This week I sulked. I have a generally happy life, but October/November were challenging.
The New Orleans Bookfair, which I'm supposedly involved in organizing, went swimmingly, but a few other things didn't. What's germane to this blog is that I lost my beautiful, beloved writing space when the old warehouse at 511 Marigny, also known as the ARK, shut down for good. This was a blow. I depend on my writing space even during the hours I'm not in it. I need to know it's there, the place where nothing matters except my prose, a private room behind a locked door. It's the bedrock on which I build peace of mind.
I have a busy domestic life. If needing a writing space that isn't my bedroom makes me a prima donna, well, I've been called worse.
I know a novelist who writes every morning at a cafe, but I cannot enter the deep-focus state I need for writing in a coffee shop. The soundtrack alone would drive me bonkers. Libraries here are often noisy, and more importantly, every time you go for a piss you must pack all your belongings with you or lose them to theft, something true of most coffee shops as well.
The coffee shops where I wouldn't have to worry about securing my (ancient clunky donated) laptop are those run by, staffed by and frequented by friends whose conviviality would make writing impossible. I don't wish to perform my writing in front of anyone. To get the best from myself, I need to enter into almost trance-like concentration, an unusually un-self-aware condition. Even the possibility of interruption can be distracting.
Once 511 Marigny was condemned, doomed to become condos, I began finding it difficult to write there. My grief distracted me. Some artists had lived in the building 16 years; I'd only been haunting its hallways for 4, but I mourned it intensely. I loved my writing space, a beautiful room with 20-foot ceilings, a broad, long room whose 8-foot-tall windows gave me a view of the downtown skyline. $100 a month I paid for that shit... ah, well.
With only a week left in the old space, I landed another in a punk warehouse right off Frenchmen St. I'd have to build the walls, but I'm butch like that, and I have friends who do such things for a living. The day before-- really, just the very day before I was planning to move in, the new warehouse got 30 days notice that the owner was booting everyone out. It's to be condos as well.
Downtown New Orleans is fucked, but that's a different and larger subject. I had no more writing space, and I was too worn out to keep looking. Time was up at 511 Marigny. I gave away most of my office furnishings and moved the rest into the small house I share with 4 other people. I knew something would come along eventually, but I needed to focus on doing some work-work, for money, and to be honest my spirit was a little broken.
The weeks rolled on. I became sullen. This week, I barely left my house at all. I didn't answer my phone except as it related to paying projects. I constructed the toweringly time-wasting vampirefish.info and spent hours poring through the Classified Ad archives of a small-town Rust Belt newspaper, because I felt like it. I've been vaguely intending to build a Danny W. Shultz archive for years; it took this mild depressive phase to make it happen. I was sulking, and I was determined I would sulk until someone called me up with some good news. Good news! Good News! Not a request for a favor, not a question for me to answer, not to see if I wanted to do some work for free, not even to extend a social invitation-- GOOD NEWS.
Yesterday it happened. I got a call that a dear friend had found me a tiny office space in an old funeral home, "down the hall from where the gay Alcoholics Anonymous meets." It's perfect... I'm somewhat gay, an alcoholic and fairly anonymous; there's no-one I'd rather be neighbors with. It's ready for me to move in Saturday.
Five minutes before I left to go see the new space, I got an e-mail offering me a part-time contract for some book editing. I rely on exactly these kinds of small gigs to pay my way through the world, so this is a windfall. Four months of part-time work is enough to support me for half a year.
So yes, I know it's childish to sulk, and self-pity is contemptible; I know waiting for things to land in one's lap is immature, and constitutes "magical thinking" rather than the stolid rationality we're told is the way forward, but fucking whatever. I'm a grown-up, not a naif, and it's clear to me life has almost no rhyme or reason, almost no cause-and-effect. Terrible things happen to lovely people, blessings fall out of the blue, existence is absurd. I sulked, retreated into a snit, and was rewarded with good news-- not because I deserved it, but because life is a colossal joke and I'm unusually lucky. That's the state of things.
I have a writing space again!