About ten years ago, I built my “office” on one wall of my bedroom. I have always written in my bedroom. I do most things in my bedroom. It is very hard to find reasons to leave it. I have many pictures of the sea around me. The photograph in front of my computer was taken by my friend, photographer Kristina Loggia. The two pictures on the side were made by my younger son. I have no particular affinity for the sea over any other landscape. But I guess other people think I do, or I should.
The art supplies and the model are relics of a time when I tried to learn how to draw. I wanted to learn to do something that I didn’t have to be good at. I succeeded. I am no better an artist now than I was when I began. I am not being coy. Tell me to draw a circle and I will draw something that looks like a squashed egg. Even my teacher was perplexed. I felt bad. On the desk and the lower shelves are the books I used for research for Little Nothing. They include books about wolves and early 20th-century insane asylums and bizarre medical practices and fairy tales and…plumbing. I now know more about plumbing that I ever thought I would know in my life. There are also some books about physics and why the world is the way it is. I read these continually and without understanding. But I keep reading, in hopes.
What We're Reading This WeekGet recommendations for the greatest books around straight to your inbox every week.
To the left of yet another picture of the sea (this one by my other son — it’s a conspiracy) are the piles of notebooks and note cards I kept while writing Little Nothing. I kept fresh notecards by my bedside. I’d wake up at 2 AM having a brilliant idea that I knew would solve all my narrative problems. I’d scribble it down and fall back to sleep only to wake up to a card filled with incomprehensible drivel. An example: “They play. Bring bits of food. Hydraulic crane.”
Under my desk is where every single iteration of Little Nothing lives. I keep these in case there is some sentence that I remember having written that I want to retrieve but that I have somehow erased from my computer. Yesterday, on the day the book was published, I did a ritual transfer of these pages from this basket to the garbage can outside my house.
This is an afghan that I have been “working on” for over a year. I made one for my younger son before he went to college. Then I figured I’d better make one for my older son, just to be fair. But at the rate I’m going, this will be fodder for his future therapy appointments. Above it is a photograph of said children, when they were younger. Also, a water bottle filled with sand from the Sahara. We took a trip to Morocco some years ago, and I was mesmerized by the cinnamon-colored sand. I took some to remind myself of that color.
This is the very distracting view out my window. But sometimes the view works in my favor. Watching a bird behaving oddly on the deck one day gave me a scene idea. And once a fire broke out on the hillside beyond those trees, which allowed me to beg off a phone call I didn’t want to continue. “There’s a fire outside my window!” turns out to be a very good conversation stopper.
Photographs courtesy of Marisa Silver