Every writer needs a place to write. As a newspaper and television reporter, I’ve written just about anywhere and everywhere — on airplanes and on the floors of several airports, in press boxes and in the front seat of my pickup, on smoky hillsides, in coffee shops, in bars, on those brutally hard courtroom benches. All that is required is a place to make an Internet connection (or, in the old days, a place to “couple” my crude computer to a pay phone) and I’m off.
Writing at home, however, is a different animal. For years, I simply sat at a small desk in the corner of the family room or, more recently, set up shop at the dining room table.
But in 2009, after Jim Davidson and I agreed to embark on the journey that is The Ledge: An Adventure Story of Friendship and Survival on Mount Rainier, I knew I needed a dedicated space to do my work. Luckily, there was a small, little-used bedroom on the second floor of our home, and I claimed it. I moved in my wife’s oak rolltop desk — which over the years had been wrestled from the main floor to the second floor to the basement — and a couple file cabinets. And then I got to work.
The room isn’t large — barely 100 square feet total. But I have two nice windows that face south and west and catch the sun all day long, and even allow me a glimpse of the Colorado Rockies. I have a comfortable chair. The best part about this, frankly, is that just before I walk away for the day I can stuff everything into the desk, roll down the top, and hide the debris of my work.
If you sat down at my desk, you’d see all kinds of junk — mementoes, sticky notes, scraps of paper, and things I use to inspire me:
- Random photographs of my children at different ages.
- A few of my journalism awards.
- A bulletin board festooned with scores of credentials accumulated from nearly a quarter century of working as a reporter — those from the World Series and the Olympics get their own special hook.
- Purple, blue, green and yellow sticky notes reminding me of passwords to various computer programs, things that need to get done and phone numbers.
- A Jeff Foxworthy “You Might Be a Redneck If …” desk calendar.
- Spare ink for the printer.
- Business cards.
- Three links removed from the watch my wife gave me for Christmas.
- The Elements of Style, Between a Rock and a Hard Place, and Touching the Void.
- One of my favorite cartoons from one of my favorite cartoonists, Drew Litton.
- One of my favorite editorial cartoons from one of my favorite editorial cartoonists, Ed Stein.
- A couple dozen reporter’s notebooks, ready for use.
- And yes, at times, a glass of red wine.