I haven’t been writing much lately. In fact, I can’t remember when I last spent so little time at my computer. I didn’t mean to, but it seems that I’ve taken a vacation, a tidying-up and house-improvement vacation. I’ve been building a desk (see above), and it’s been eating up my days and absorbing my time and attention, along with a few other things.*
When I was in my late teens and early 20s, I wanted to be a carpenter. Instead, I wound up doing a couple of rounds of graduate school. Every bit of education I get seems to erode my earning potential, now probably well into negative numbers. I would have made a lot more money if I’d stuck to carpentry. At least building the desk was not expensive. I am out the cost of
some a lot of hardware and two half-sheets of plywood. We had all of the tools around the property (a few of them left from my past woodworking ventures, 15+ years ago). The rest of the wood was salvaged from various places, including the leftovers from the renovation of this house 10-ish years ago and the scrap pile at South Mountain Co.
Now to all of you who say, “Couldn’t you just buy a desk?” the answer is no, I couldn’t. Believe me, I looked. Target is seriously stalking me with desk ads over on Facebook. I also looked at Ikea and some other places online and in the basement next door, which serves as a collective family dumping ground.
The whole detour back into carpentry began when I walked into a big house in Edgartown that I was writing an article about. In one corner of the kitchen, just inside the door, was a small desk with a corkboard over it. I immediately thought, I need that in my house. Something just like that. It can be the kids’ homework desk. The kids needed a homework desk. I, apparently, had a novel revision to avoid.
The desk needed enough space for both kids to work at and a drawer for each of them. It also needed to house the family printer and its supplies (paper, etc.), preferably in a tidy, out-of-the-way manner. It needed to be flexible and it needed to fit neatly into a corner that had a post jutting out at one end. None of the commercially available desks fit the bill. The ones that had most of the functions I was looking for were way too big, and the simple, small ones that might have fit into the corner would not fit the printer and looked flimsy.
I spent upwards of three weeks drawing sketches on paper while I worked on the article about that house, a high-end renovation (the article did not mention the inspirational desk), and got the kids back to schools. Then I gathered my supplies, slowly and painfully. I spent hours looking for drill bits. I ordered corkboard, drawer slides, and folding table props off Amazon. Eventually, the living room became a construction site.
The main part of the desk top was the “good, solid walnut” top of the coffee table. It was chipboard with walnut veneer. Thick, heavy chipboard, but chipboard nonetheless.
My attempts to find a better top turned up nothing, so I decided to use it anyway. The box where the printer sits, the flip-up leaf, and the printer shelf, were made of ¾-inch, pre-finished plywood from Cottle’s, our local lumberyard. The drawers and some other bits and pieces were ¼” plywood and some 1×3 pine (“Where’d you find that, we don’t carry that,” said the guy working in that part of the lumberyard). Everything else was random bits and pieces.
I can’t remember where I started. I jumped around a lot. I should maybe have taken process photos, but the process was plenty slow enough as it was, and it’s not like I knew what I was doing.
This past week, I have pretty much ditched writing entirely to wrap up the project. It’s not perfect. There are some wonky cuts, as I still haven’t come close to mastering accurate cutting with the skill saw. I stripped a lot of screws and bent a lot of nails, but eventually, with bits of help here and there from my husband and kids, I got the thing working.
Along the way, I cleaned up an old folding table that had been disintegrating out back for the past few years (and, in fairness, was in pretty rough shape before that). Yesterday, as an afterthought, I re-glued and lightly re-finished a small end table, and I started building a shoe rack, using the legs of the old coffee table. I didn’t clean them up perfectly, because hey, it’s a shoe rack and it’s going to get dirty soon anyway, but I did get the duct tape and most of the splattered paint off. I’ll finish that today.
And then I really must get back to writing. I’ve ditched my goal of getting the final book of the series out by the end of this calendar year. I’m now aiming for late January or early February. That’s sounding very close, given the amount of work I think it needs.
* Meanwhile, I have also been messing with my computer, trying to get it to stop crashing so much. After much finagling, I figured out how to update the BIOS and the Linux kernel. That’s done now, but again, don’t come to me for advice because I did spend most of several hours staring at lines of code that meant nothing to me. No crashes so far this morning. Fingers crossed. Having a stable computer (as well as my own desk to work at, upstairs and out of the fray), is a great help to actually getting the writing done.
* In the still-yet-more distractions department, I’ve also gotten back to aikido in the last month and a half. It’s fun and probably good for me to get out of the house, but it does take up a lot of time and some mental energy.