(Not) My Writing Desk

This is not my writing desk. It is the sea.

I can understand why you would make that mistake. I write a lot about the sea (and associated watery things like drowning and swimming and seagulls and algae) but I do not actually write in the sea.

There are certain practicalities to be considered. Ink tends to run, paper disintegrates. My previous laptop died with an unfortunate accident with a glass of water, which is much smaller than the sea (250ml against an approximate 1.3 billion cubic kilometres) and so I do not think that will go very well for either the laptop or my writing. I also have much better things to do in the sea than write, including but not limited to:

  • Swim
  • Chase shoals of fish and pretend I’m a seal
  • Dive down holding my breath until I can pick up an empty shell from the sea floor
    • Drop said shell and watch it float gently down until it hits the sand
    • Remember that I need to breathe and splutter up mouthfuls of water
  • Float
  • Jump off rocks into the sea
  • Think about salt and how it sneaks into wounds and makes them hurt (these two points may be related)
  • Swish my hair under the water and watch it drift, weightless
  • Smoke cigarettes on the shore and feel the water evaporate off my skin.

On reflection, there are a very many things I can be doing that are better than writing.

Besides, it is not a good thing to have a writing desk in the same place as the subject of your writing. You are likely to get distracted and sloppy, or diverted by how you feel at that particular moment in time when you are still experiencing the thing you want to write about. A partner may be upset if you paused mid-sex to try to find the perfect phrase to describe the sensation of skin on skin (or the reader might get bored of ten pages of ‘oh. yes. yes. god yes, oh…ouch, you just elbowed me in the face you idiot… ohhh.) Immediacy and proximity to the theme is not always a good thing. This is why Editors exist, and why the sea would make a particularly poor writing desk for me, not just because it’s wet.

I have tried to use bars and cafés next to the sea as a substitute, but unfortunately this tended to attract people who want to meet women who write alone at bars and cafés next to the sea with a glass of wine, and then they will tell these women all about Proust and their new podcast, and so for this practical reason I also do not use the sea shore as my writing desk.

I am writing this at my writing desk, which is actually a small corner of the sofa that has a useful arm for supporting the laptop whilst maintaining a comfortable semi-foetal position. So even my writing desk is not a writing desk. It is also not the sea, despite the sea also not being my writing desk.

I hope this answers your question adequately.




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