Where I Write
Author Mark Holtzen’s Desk
July 14, 2016 | Category: Children's Books
For this series, our authors take us behind the scenes to show us what their work spaces look like. First up: Mark Holtzen, author of A Ticket to the Pennant.
When I started taking writing more seriously, I asked my dad if he’d help me build a desk. I came home from teaching one day, went out to the grungy 1923 garage that sits in the corner of our backyard, and found a fully built desk. That’s my dad’s way.
He’d used a repurposed oak restaurant table. The desk was attached to the wall, and was wide and sturdy with just the right amount of regality. I’ll shove my family under there should there be a major earthquake. It’s fantastic.
I’d wanted the desk to sit high against the window so I could stare out at my garden (a required habit of any writer). So I asked my father-in-law to “raise the floor.” The floor is also fantastic. It’s hinged, so it can retract for a car, though the only thing that’s been parked out there for quite some time is me.
I had both my dad and father-in-law sign their work.
Early every morning I head out to the garage in my socks. I sit down at the desk and look around. On the walls above the desk I have taped memories: favorite photos, drawings by my children, inspiring quotes by other writers—both authors who’ve believed in me and authors whose work I admire. Recently, I added a kind note from a former student.
I like sitting at my writing desk. It’s a nice place to be. I’m close to those I care most about, but away from them too. I sit near spider webs, oil stains, and underused tools while I click away at my keyboard. Between my headphones I dream up families, quirks, and conflict, all while alternating between feelings of fear, satisfaction, and joy.
Tomorrow, when I sit at my desk out in my grungy garage, I’ll see my favorite quote. Two words from the composer John Cage, pasted right at the center of the window: “Begin Anywhere.”
And I will.