James Brush is no stranger to these pages. He was my first interview victim a few months ago. I’ve asked him to return and provide us a glimpse at his writing space and he graciously agreed. This is a fascinating look behind the curtain and I’m pleased to share it with you.
My dad made this desk for me when we lived in the Philippines when I was a kid. He made one just like it for my brother, and I’m no longer sure if this is mine or his. It seems my brother’s pet rabbit chewed on both of them so there’s no real way to be sure, but it doesn’t matter.
This is the one piece of furniture to which I am truly attached. I never used it for doing homework as was intended or even writing when I was in college (it weighs a ton and so stayed in my parents house until I was somewhat settled). But then around 1995, when I moved into a little duplex in south Austin, the desk came with me. I stuck my computer on it (a Mac from before Macs were cool) and wrote the script that would someday become my novel A Place Without a Postcard.
I also played a lot of Risk and Galactic Frontiers with my roommates around this desk and that old Mac. Eventually, I came to love this desk as a place for writing. It’s damn comfortable and it’s a great desk for a computer, which is cool considering it was built even before we got a Vic-20. I wrote my grad school papers and scripts on it, my three novels (two still unpublished), countless short stories and poems and the final manuscript for Birds Nobody Loves. It’s the place I go when I need time and space for deep and sustained thought.
Then came the laptops. The laptop made every room in the house and beyond into potential writing spaces and now poems get composed wherever and on whatever is handy: scraps of paper, my journal, my phone, email. But for serious revision, assembling poems into collections, playing with photos and videos, messing with blog code and diving into novels the quiet space and that desk are essential. The desk, you see, is built of memory and words as much as wood and sometimes when I write, I can’t shake the feeling that whatever I’m writing or working on fits in like the heavy drawers on that desk with the other things I’ve done.
Last summer, our son was born. Mark asked me to write about how he’s impacted my space, but really the impact has been on the time part of the spacetime continuum. Time moves faster now but in some odd ways, space seems to have expanded to compensate and so writing is done more in snatches and often ideas are drafted out on my phone and then reworked on the laptop in whatever space I might be occupying, but when the time comes to sit down and get real, it’ll be at that desk, usually in the hour or so after he’s gone to sleep and before we crash for the night.
Someday this desk will be his. I hope he likes it and whatever he uses it for, whether a place to write, to pile junk or sit while information is downloaded into some chip in his brain, I hope he’ll get a sense of the history behind the desk, the adventures I’ve been on while sitting at it, my arms resting on the worn wood as they’ve done for nearly 30 years.
James Brush is a high school English teacher. He published his first poetry collection Birds Nobody Loves back in January. He keeps a full list of publications at his blog Coyote Mercury. James lives in central Texas.