I have a history of tiny little offices in New York City apartments. My first office was a room that had once been a kitchen. It was about 5' X 7, partly tiled in white subway tiles (with an inset band of burgundy tiles) and had a north window facing the now tony Gretsch building's parking lot in Williamsburg. I loved this little office. The space felt like it concentrated my ideas and protected me from distractions. I wrote the script for and produced my feature film (How To Be Louise) in this office. There were some cabinets left over from the kitchen days for storage, and a thick piece of plywood served as a desk. The desk stretched from wall to wall (supported by file cabinets) and when I sat at it, my back to the window, daylight poured in over my shoulder.
After the kids were born, we moved four times in seven years and I was thinking more about diapers and getting a nap than about an office. In the third apartment, I had a desk in the bedroom. In the fourth apartment, I commandeered a hallway and wore ear plugs to block out the kids. This is still my office in New York City but now it has a fourth wall with a lockable door in it. It's a small office, about 6' X 9' and I love it. There's room for the camcorder and a couple of hard drives, but the paper I've accumulated, God help me, the reams and reams of paper, there's no way it can all fit in this office. There are files in the basement, files in my bureau, in the linen closet and every other closet and bookshelf in the house - trying to keep track of it all is a full-time job.
Upstate, I'm back to a desk in the corner of the bedroom and a bookshelf filled with, yup, papers. But I've had an eye on one of the sheds.
Maybe you saw the picture of me pick-axing a dirt floor last week? Tonight that dirt is all smoothed out, covered with a layer of crushed stone and ... paved in cement tiles. This shed is about to be my first-ever, free-standing 'office and studio'!
Last Fall, trying to justify to myself that I wanted this entire shed, including the lean-to section in the back, all for my own, I explained to Mr. Green that the lean-to part could be my office (as I like small spaces to concentrate my thoughts). The other part, which is twice the size and with a higher ceiling, could be where actors and I could sit around a big table and have table readings before we shoot. (And hey, it could even be a place to shoot.) Mr. Green said something like: "Oh. A conference room. You need an office and a conference room." So now my shed has been dubbed my Office and Conference Room. It sounds so corporate that it makes me laugh out loud but, in fact, tonight I'm not laughing. I'm completely in awe.
We finished the floor tonight. I went in, closed the doors and said in a voice so low that even if someone else was there, they couldn't have heard me: "This is my office. This is my studio."
But I'll tell you, I wasn't feeling AT ALL like I 'owned this room'. I felt more like when I first meet an intimidating person or a very powerful and large animal or when I walk into a building or a room that takes my breath away.
While we were fixing it up, I went through spells of worrying that it was too big, that it would overwhelm me, that I'd feel ridiculous, that I don't deserve it and, the topper, that because of it, I'll never do anything again... Tonight I can't wait for tomorrow so I can go vacuum it, wash the windows and move my stuff in.