Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Where I Write

Greetings! If you're just walking into this blog post off the street, this is my first submission in the Front Row's Occasional Blog Series that my friends and I are putting on. In brief, we're called The Front Row because we always sat in the front row of the classroom where we met as graduate students in Hamline University's MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults program. They are some of the best people and finest writers I have ever had the pleasure of meeting and reading.

We graduated in January together and now we're adding "blogging like BAMFs" to our repertoire. The theme of this installment is "Where I Write." Sarah "The Delight"* Ahiers kicked us off on Monday, followed by my boy Josh "The Clutch" Hammond yesterday.

I have always been a solitary writer, and when it comes to writing accommodations, a picky one as well. I've tried writing in school computer labs, coffee shops, even in a private piano practice room on a beat-up upright, but for me, having a quiet place to write is where I am most productive. Now that we're in a two-bedroom house, we have room for an office/library/study. A quiet office with a can of Young's Double
Chocolate Stout and a neat, orderly desk is heaven on earth.

Unfortunately, this is usually what my desk looks like: Notebooks everywhere, papers for God-knows-what strewn about the floor, not to mention the "I can't find a place for this right now" items that have made a nigh-permanent home in and on my desk.

My desk itself is an improvised, IKEA-hacked contraption. Pretty it ain't, but functional it... it might be. Maybe.


1. Take the feet off a scratch-and-dent entertainment center.
2. Screw a couple of shelf holders to the front of said entertainment center.
3. Toss that mess on top of a desk that a normal person would be satisfied with by itself.

    Total Cost: Less than a real standing desk, probably?

All cleaned up! This will last at best ten minutes.
The shelf holding my keyboard and trackpad is removable, so I can sit if I need to, but my chair is unbelievably crap, so I generally avoid sitting. Plus, I have an 8-hour-a-day job where I sit at a desk and type ALL DAY, so standing up to write is actually a nice change. Plus, I listen to music near-incessantly, so standing to write shortens the time between "OH YES THIS IS MY JAM" and me dancing inadvisably.

The two compartments below my laptop house my Tolkien collection (which includes a first-edition American Hardcover Silmarillion) and my essential oils, which I use to make beard balms and soothing scents for my lil' egg-shaped diffuser. Right now, I've got Sweet Basil, Lemongrass and Eucalyptus kicking, and it's pretty calming. I also have a bunch of Mason and Ball jars with dice and pens and markers in them, which both look cool and keep the important stuff nearby (just between you and me, I use the dice more often).

My wife Stephanie and I moved just recently, so the walls are still pretty bare (I may have also forgotten to ask our landlords if we can hang stuff up), but I am working with the amazing Anne Ursu right now, so in keeping with my MFAC tradition, I have her packet letter taped up on the wall. I HIGHLY recommend this. I circle things I need to work on, books to read, and things she liked. That last one is important for me: it doesn't take much for me to worry that I am effing up my manuscript and that it's all garbage, but having the things that are working printed out in black-and-white helps stave off those demons long enough for me to get to my feet.

So that's where I write! Tomorrow Jessica "The Winner" Mattson is showing off her writing space tomorrow, so be sure to check out her blog for that!

Also, here's the list of the rest of the Front Row and the day they're posting. I'll put links in soon!

Monday: Sarah "The Delight"* Ahiers
Tuesday: Josh "The Clutch" Hammond
Thursday: Jessica "The Winner" Mattson
Friday: Brita "The Magician" Sandstrom
Saturday: Jennifer "The Machine" Coats
Sunday: Anna "The Jack-of-all-Trades" Dielschneider

Of course, if you want to get involved, blog about where you write, make a video or drop me a comment; I would love to see it!

- Z

*- Sarah's codename has been censored due to the fact is has a swear in it and my mom might read this. HI MOM.


  1. That's awesome! Love the idea of hanging your packet letter on the wall. Nice job IKEA hacking yourself a stand-up desk. Very cool.

  2. Yep, I read your post ZACK! Thanks for sparing me the swearword(s), LOL
    I love you! And I love where you write!
    Thanks for sharing! OLA, Mom

  3. I never knew you were so fancy with the oils and stuff! But I agree on the packet on the wall - genius.

  4. Love your Frankendesk especially it's ready-at-any-moment-to-dance ability. Thanks for sharing! See you in July!