Friday, June 29, 2007
Slow Day At The Office

So, pretty soon now I'll start editing. You'll probably be hearing about this over the coming months, as I tend to get more absorbed in this part of the process than in shooting, and since it's so cerebral it generates a lot of random thoughts that will eventually need an outlet. It's strange -- I always dread the edit in the beginning, and god knows it can be absolutely torturous. But it's also when I feel most connected to the medium, when I feel the most like a filmmaker. It's deeply satisfying.

An embarrassing admission: when I first began working in film, I conscienscously avoided editing because I perceived it as "weak" work... or to be blunt, it was women's work. And if that isn't bad enough, I also initially avoided documentary work for the same reasons. I don't know if my slow, inexorable gravitation towards documentary editing is just a confirmation of all my suspicions, but suffice to say that I've pretty much given up fighting what seems so natural for me. I guess "women's work" is fine if it makes me happy.

I know, though, that editing is where I have the most potential. I'm a competent shooter, and I'm pretty good with sound (as far as I've been able to develop that skill set), but the edit, I think, is where I could move beyond competence and into genius. I undertand the nuance in a way I don't with other aspects of filmmaking. I get it, I can feel the underlying structure of a well-cut film, and I can sense the space into which editing might expand. My capacity for growth is greater here than anywhere else. At least, it will be if I can ever find a place to really dig into it.

I suppose it's obvious that I'd end up moving into editing -- I can write pretty well, and editing and writing are profoundly connected. Editing, especially in documentary work, is really just a kind of writing using sounds and images instead of words; they both rely upon your ability to construct a narrative structure, and both are more about what you cut away than what you put in. Frank Zappa once said that he was a composer first a foremost -- he happened to be a composer who worked with music, but he could compose anything. And that's how I want to be. Give me some stuff, and I'll edit it.

And it's funny, the things that used to draw me away from postproduction are now the things that are driving me towards it professionally. I love to shoot for myself, but I just don't think I want to spend my working life dealing with the kind of tense, hectic environment you find in industry productions. I used to hate the idea of spending eight or ten or sixteen hours a day in a dark room making fantastically fine alterations in a flickering image; now it sounds like bliss. Maybe I'm just getting older, but I'd love nothing more than the peace of a dark room and the opportunity to focus my thoughts on chewy conceptual problems.

I've noticed that over the course of shooting this film, I've made some real progress as an interviewer. I've moved from simply figuring out how to do an interview to figuring out how best to do an interview. Errol Morris, who's unequivocally a first-rate interviewer, has said that his secret weapon is the akward silence: where most of us would fill it in with another question, he lets it hang until the subject cracks and fills it for you. He gets some really interesting material that way. I don't know if I could ever harden myself sufficiently to use that approach, though I'd like to play with it sometime.

My own interview process goes something like this: I usually start recording before I've completely set up the camera -- the act of focusing and color balancing and framing and the rest of it masks the act of rolling camera. I certainly never announce, "okay, I'm filming... NOW!" I don't really want my subject to know when I've started taping, to the point that I often cover the red LED that indicates I'm recording. Then I start in with a little chit-chat -- how are you? How's your day been? What are you doing after this? I'm not really interested, but the point is to slide them into the interview like a warm bath. Then I ask them a two-part question, usually "what's your name and where are you from?" It's important to ask both at once -- if you just ask, "what's your name?" or "where are you from?" you'll always get a one-word answer ("Jimmy", "Lubbock") and that's useless. Ask both, and they're forced to say, "I'm Jimmy, and I'm from Lubbock." I can use that.

It's kind standard practice to ask novice subjects to speak in complete sentences, repeating part of your question, because complete statements are easier to cut. But it seems impractical to me -- they try, but they never do it. And anyway, I don't want to saddle a subject with any extra requirements -- it's hard enough just to be on camera without having someone nagging you to answer their questions "right." In my opinion, the better approach is to build the completion requirement into the question, which requires some care in question design. If a question is too focused, they'll give you a brief answer that's less likely to bring its context along with it; it's better to ask a more open-ended question, and the context will take care of itself. You'll usually get a short, incomplete answer intially, but then the subject will begin to explain themselves, and nine times out of ten they'll give you a much more cohesive statement at the end. If you can get them talking freely, not only will you not have to worry about what you can and can't cut -- it'll all be in there -- but you'll also de-emphasize your own agenda and allow your subject space to speak for themselves, and probably get better material as a result.

And you shouldn't be afraid of some silence if they need time to think. Sometimes I throw a subject a particularly abstract question just to provoke them into some on-camera thought-gathering, just because it gives me a chance to grab some shots while they're not paying attention to me. I also try to figure out ways to ask obvious questions in inobvious ways -- I try to ask questions sideways. With this film, for example, I didn't ask them "why do you want to teach in the delta?" because I knew I'd only get pat answers -- they were expecting to get that one, so they already had answers ready. And I don't want prepared answers. So instead I asked them, "At the end of your first year as a teacher, how will you know whether you've been successful?" It covers the same ground as the obvious question -- their values and ideals, their expectations and preconceptions -- but not one of them saw it coming, so they had to formulate entirely new answers on the spot. And that's what I want. That's what the film wants. The other fun thing is to ask them an obvious question and watch as person after person gives you exactly the same answer -- "oh, if I can just help one student it'll all be worth it." Get enough people gravely spouting the same platitude and you've got instant documentary gold.

Bah -- enough of this for now. I've got a spreadsheet to tend to.
12:26 PM ::
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Thursday, June 28, 2007
Something To Read

So anyway.

I'm pretty sure there'll be another couple of posts coming soon. In the meantime, Eric Spitznagel is rapidly becoming my new prose hero. Maybe you should check him out or something. Or not. Like I care.
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Monday, June 25, 2007
Everything To Everyone

Just so nobody can say I don't strive to satisfy my readership:

I started this blog more or less on March 1, 2004. The start of the Iraq war almost a year previously had sent me fleeing to the internet in search of socio-political succor I couldn't reliably find in Mississippi, and I'd ended up doing a lot of writing and interacting online. After a year of it, though, I'd become frustrated by the restrictions and high bullshit factor of online forums, and kind of hated that I put so much time into writing stuff that was inevitably ignored and/or lost to the void. The former I can't do much about, but at least I should be able to keep what I write.

So I started this blog. There were other reasons, too -- it's a cheater's way to stay in touch with lots of people at once, it serves as a sort of home base where I can always be found, it's an ongoing journal of my day-to-day life, and it's an outlet for all the stuff I otherwise wouldn't say. It helps me overcome the worst of my inhibitions, it allows me to take my writing skillz out for walkies on a regular basis, and I never have to feel guilty or self-conscious about pushing myself on other people -- by definition, the only people who read any of this are the ones who are interested. Or at least they can't say they didn't come of their own free will.

Mostly, though, it provides me with the one thing I desperately need in order to write: an audience. Usually it's an abstraction, a sort of generalized "you" to whom I might address myself, but I can't write without it. I've never written only for myself, I don't see the point. Some of my posts are directed at specific people, some of them are just me talking to myself to you. But the idea that someone might be reading is the bridge that gets my thoughts out of my head and down in text.

If you've ever checked out my archives, you'll see that the early posts were mostly of the standard political snark variety popular at the time. It was something I needed to do back then, but a couple of years ago it began to shift -- less topical, more personal. Posts became less frequent and less relevant, but chewier and more revealing. If you ever want to know anything about me, it's probably in here somewhere. People I haven't met yet will one day get to know me, at least in part, by reading my old posts; a few of you have already done that. I can almost re-live the last few years of my life by reading my own archives. Not that I ever do. Whenever I try, it's always surprising -- I don't remember writing any of this stuff. Sometimes I don't even recognize it.


The "Sister Novena" part of the title I would probably change now if it weren't such a pain to do it -- significant parts of my online persona are tied into Sister Novena, and switching to something else would require a lot of updating. But I don't think it suits me anymore, if it ever really did -- still, I haven't come up with anything better, so for now it's stuck to me. And I actually came up with the name "Portapulpit" when I was a kid, for something else entirely. I used it for the blog because a) it suggests mobility, which is paramount in anything in my life that I hope to make last; and b) I can be kinda preachy. Ergo...

I suppose I should say that I hope post #2000 is about my recent win at Sundance, or the tremendous reception my film received at Cannes or something like that. I hope it takes place in a marginally saner America, and I hope it's not still about the fucking Iraq war. I hope I have a quieter place to write -- you have no idea how many posts I've aborted because the space here can be so hostile to concentration. I won't say I hope I'm "happy," because if I am, I probably won't be blogging anymore. I think I can say, looking back at post #1, that I've made progress since then; and I guess I hope that when I get to #2000 I can say the same relative to this one. I wouldn't care to suppose what that might mean, though -- right now, my main thing is staying open to whatever comes next. All I'm looking for is a surprise.

I did that last interview today, finally; it was good. There was a moment towards the end when my subject looked down my lens and spoke for a couple of minutes with such articulate concision, summing up his experiences of the last year with earnestness and perfect clarity. And I knew as soon as he'd finished and looked up at me that I was done shooting; those were the last words of this interminable shoot, and will likely become the last words of the film. Each of my three subjects has a particular contribution to make -- one is warm and engaging, open, unfailingly optimistic and enthusiastic; one is sardonic and goes off on fantastic, almost poetic little rants about the pressures of teaching in the delta; and this third guy I know I can always count on for clear-headed analysis and the perfectly formed, well-expressed thought.

He asked me, as I packed up, what the film was going to be used for. I told him honestly that I didn't know -- all I was going to do was make the best film I could from the material I have, and then give it to the MTC to do with as they like. He asked me what I thought the film would be, and I told him again that I didn't know. Somewhere in all those tapes there's a seed, some little scrap of footage that will make me think of something else, that will lead me to explore one aspect of the story or another, which will then demand an explanation which I will go and piece together. And that's how it'll all come together -- as artificial as it is, it's a wholly organic process that can only take place over the course of time. And as much footage as I have, I could make a hundred different films. At this point I have no more idea what film I'll end up actually making than I have what kind of life I'll end up living. I have the same sense of potential, the same kind of vision in my mind, but enough experience to know that it won't -- and ultimately shouldn't -- turn out exactly how I think it will. And that's the best part of it. It's the process that matters most, not the product.

Still, one phase of this process is over now, and another will start directly. I find myself at the terminus of more than one process lately. But more on that in another post.
7:32 PM ::
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Saturday, June 23, 2007
The One Before

The pressure of post #1000 is killing me -- honestly, you have no idea. It's crushing my creativity like a bug. I've got one likely candidate post sitting in my drafts folder, but there's nothing particularly 1000-ish about it except that it's long and it rambles.

I hit a bunny with my car yesterday. I was almost home when a little brown rabbit darted out into the road and made a beeline for my front wheel. I tried to miss it, but I heard it go crunch under the car; when I looked in my rear-view mirror, though, there wasn't anything behind me. When I got out of my car I didn't see anything unusual, and I only hoped that some owl or vulture would come deliver it from its misery as soon as possible.

This morning, a rabbit -- or more accurately, about 70% of a dead rabbit -- appeared next to my car. Its left side was sheared away -- fur, flesh, ribs, leaving just an opening into its little chest cavity. Its spine was snapped cleanly in two. Everybody thought the cat did it. I only wondered where it had gotten lodged in my car, and how it had gotten out.

There is nothing in this world I hate more than hitting little animals; they haunt me for days afterwards. I apologized profusely to the bunny. I feel really, really guilty and awful -- not that it's dead, I'm not especially squeamish about death -- but that it must have suffered.

One more damn reason to get rid of my car.

The next post will be #1000. Any suggestions? Last chance...
9:18 PM ::
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Thursday, June 21, 2007
Esc

So, I extracted myself from bed this morning, like every morning; and staggered to the kitchen to start making my breakfast, pretty much like every morning; and then sat down at my computer to confirm the complete and total absence of email, like damn near every morning. And that's when I noticed that something was... amiss.

My Escape key is gone. There's just an empty socket on my keyboard where it used to be.

It's just weird, because I'm pretty sure it was there when I went to bed last night. And having a key vanish from your keyboard without known cause or means is odd. All the other keys seem pretty firmly attached, and I didn't know of any special issues with that one. And it's not like it's a big deal -- I could re-attach it if I could find it, and no harm done. But it doesn't seem to be anywhere around.

Gnomes, do you think? Or is this more of a fairy job?

Update: It was the cat, apparently.
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Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Morgan's Birthday

Today is my lovely, sweet, darling friend Morgan's birthday. He had his party a couple of nights ago (I didn't get drunk after all), and while I was there I spent some time talking to his current R.I. He told me (among other things) that the thing he really loves about Morgan is his optimism. And I think that's very true -- I mean, I love my pessimist/realist friends and I value their perspective and all, but sometimes it's so nice to have a friend who understands as well as anyone how bad things are, who sees all our fucked-up-ness and our hostility and self-destructive tendencies, and can still smile and insist that everything's going to turn out fine.

Poor ol' Morgan's had a stressful year, and the fact that he can still do that after everything is pretty amazing. I've learned a lot from Morgan over the years, I'm a better filmmaker for having worked with him and around him, and I hope he knows how much I love him. So happy birthday, Morgiepie.


10:57 AM ::
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Monday, June 18, 2007
Delay

Alas, my very, very last interview, which was set to happen today, fell through -- my subject's car broke down last night, and I'm not driving all the way to Indianola for a 20-minute inteview. Oh well, it's not like I can't relate to car trouble; we'll try again later on. As it turns out, I'm not feeling so hot today anyway and wasn't looking forward to going out, so I'm not too disappointed. And it gives me extra time to do all the other chores (laundry, grocery shopping, snoozing on the sofa) I have to do. Still, I'd hoped to post something a bit more triumphant this afternoon, some heralding of trumpets and annunciations of new liberty. I guess it'll have to wait.

I've got a couple of half-written posts in my queue, so maybe I'll slap up something more interesting later on.
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Sunday, June 17, 2007
A Suggestion For Father's Day




Just, y'know, not very much. Ha!
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Saturday, June 16, 2007
In Bloom

Fuck St. Patrick's Day... it's Bloomsday, motherfuckers! (It's like St. Patrick's for the over-educated.) And this year I'm all about the character that turned Ulysses from a book I dug into a book I fucking loved: Molly Bloom. I have no interest in your pathetic virgin/whore dichotomy -- I want to be Molly when I grow up.

PS: Look at this. Yes I said yes I will yes, bitches.
2:24 PM ::
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Thursday, June 14, 2007
O Fateful Four-Day Weekend

This weekend, a burst of activity may well signal the end of my obligations down south. Now, that's not to say that it's the end of my time here -- I've still got a couple or three months to go -- but after this weekend, my time and my agenda are entirely my own.

Tomorrow: in Oxford by 10 AM to do my first interview for the day; two more interviews in the afternoon.

Saturday: a tiny film festival around lunchtime, and then a friend's birthday party / cookout in the evening. (I'm trying to figure out how I might go about dodging the drive home that night so I can get a little drunk, which feels like a good idea. I only do it a few times a year, so I have to make it count.)

Sunday: Father's Day -- I have no idea what's going on, but there'll probably be something.

Monday: back to f-ing Oxford to do my very, very last interview for the MTC film.

After that, all that's left for me is to start editing, start packing, finish my various IT-related studies and take the exams, finish out some time in my job, and figure out when/where/how I'll land in the far, far away.

Cool.

PS: This is post #992 -- eight more to go. Anybody have suggestions for Post 1000?
10:27 AM ::
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Wednesday, June 13, 2007
$13K

I've spent the morning frustrating myself. See, I've been looking at equipment, the stuff that would turn me from a random girl with a good camera and some ambition into a fully-functioning filmmaker, trying to figure out what it's going to take to get me from here to there. And I've come to one agonizing conclusion:

I am never going to have this much money.

The hilarious thing is, it's not even that expensive, at least not compared to how much it would've cost a decade ago. I'd need a fairly powerful computer, one good monitor (two would be better, but one good one is better than two crappy ones), the editing/postproduction software suite to make it useful, a sound recording device, a shotgun mic, a wireless lavalier mic, and a basic assortment of lights. If I had that fairly modest kit, I could do pretty much whatever I wanted -- it's enough for almost any documentary work, and most contract-hire work. I could bring the lot home for under $13K, I expect, which is less than a used professional-grade camera would've cost back when. I mean, thirteen thousand for near-complete creative freedom? That's nothing. But it's so goddamn much.

This is where the brash young independent auteur plunks down his first credit card and damns the torpedoes. Maybe that's the difference between me and him -- that and about ten years of bitter experience. If I thought there was a real prospect of using this equipment professionally in the near future, I might be more willing to do it, but the most I can assume at present is that this is a very expensive hobby, albeit one I'm unusually passionate about. I just don't think I'm up to freelance production work yet. There's still so much I have to learn to be as good as I think I need to be.

The first order of business, once I get established in this new city, will be to find a couple of mentors, someone with whom to work so I can get my skills back up to scratch. I'm rusty, my talents (such as they are) have become dull, and my confidence is shaky. I need to be much more adept with sound recording, and god, I need to learn more about editing. If there's one place where I think I could really bring my talents to bear, it's editing. I'm competent now; I could be brilliant. But I've gotten about as far as I can go on my own -- I've reached the point where I really need to spend some time working with someone much better than me if I'm going to keep making progress.

And yeah, I know, it's not the equipment that matters. But damn it, it matters some, and I'm sick of trying to record with a $40 Audio-Technica mic and light with $5 dollar scoop lights and tin foil. Fuck that -- I want to work at a higher level than that. This is the one thing that really matters to me, the one thing I can't not do. It's the one thing that truly justifies the investment. But goddamn -- where am I going to get thirteen thousand dollars?

Oh well. The next two weeks will see the final shots of this year-long documentary I've been working on, and soon afterwards I'll start editing. Then we'll see how much it's really going to take to make a respectable filmmaker out of me.
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Monday, June 11, 2007
Are Y'all Sick Of Computer Questions Yet?

Okay, this is unrelated to the other computer questions, but as long as we're on the subject:

I've got an assload of video to edit, and I've decided to just go ahead and buy a big fuck-off hard drive to hold my precious data. I'm hoping for some recommendations on brands and sellers... pretty please?

I'm looking for an external 500 GB drive, Firewire interface. I want to spend as little as possible because I'm po', but not to the point of buying crappy merchandise. This is a pretty major purchase for me, so I want something I can hopefully rely on for a few years. Everybody I know seems to be really into Lacie drives, but I've heard a few bad stories about them. Who makes fast, reliable drives? Where's the best place to buy from?
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Sunday, June 10, 2007
Springtime Fresh

I've spent the better part of my day so far tweaking my computer. I figured, before I go through the minor hell of reinstalling, I should go over all those routine little maintenance processes one more time, just to be sure. I'm good about defragging my disk and dumping temporary files on a regular basis, so I didn't think it would make a significant difference. But still, I uninstalled a lot of programs I've never used much, and then I decided to try a third-party registry-cleaning program (EasyCleaner, if you're curious.)

Goddamn, I had no idea I had so much crap floating around in my registry. I scrapped about 270 useless reg files -- no wonder it was taking so long for my system to start up! Then I spent some time backing up my data and profiles, archiving old email, re-organizing my filing system, and generally cleaning house. Everything is running much more tidily now.

So I don't know -- is there still sufficient reason to re-install? I mean, I'd still like to repartition and do the whole dual-boot thing, but I don't know if I'd like it enough to deal with the pain in the ass of getting everything set up the way I like it again. On the other hand, I've done so much work to prepare for it, maybe I might as well just go ahead for the sake of experience? Are there options I haven't considered that might make this a simpler decision?

It'll be a couple of weeks before I do anything, so it's not like I have to decide right now. Any thoughts?

PS: Hey, what about something like Partition Magic? I mean, I don't really want to go buy a program for something I'll probably only do once, but could something like that solve my dilemma? Does anyone know of a freeware program that performs a similar function?
1:54 PM ::
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Thursday, June 07, 2007
Pointless

I'm going to force myself to write this blog post, even though I'm sitting at my desk at work (with nothing to do, as usual) and thus feeling uninspired. I've had a couple of posts floating half-formed in my mind for most of a week, though, and this is the time I find myself free to write them, so I might as well have a go. I make no promises about the quality of whatever follows.

I think I know what's really going on here. I'm referring, obliquely, to my earlier post about doing a new Windows/Linux installation, but also to other things. I've been mentally overhauling my entire life lately: my computer, yes, and also my space, my time, my plans, my intentions, my projects, my stuff, and myself. I'm looking at everything I have and everything I am and thinking, what of all this do I want to keep, and can I get rid of? What serves me and my ambitions, and what doesn't? It's becoming a minor obsession, which it'll need to be if I want any chance of actually making these changes real. It's going to take an awful lot of work.

You've read all this before, I know, and no doubt you'll read about it again (and again, and again) in the coming months. It's the one thing that's "going on" in a life in which presently not much seems to be going on -- and is, in fact, the reason why I'm not doing much else. All my energy is going into it, building up momentum for a Big Change.

I suppose I'm fortunate to find myself in this position. It's not uncommon, I think, to hit your 30s and discover a desire to completely change your life; but I, having avoided any major obligations or responsibilities (no spouse, no kids, no mortgage, no career) am free to actually do it. It's the one really good aspect of being an inveterate slacker: I am free as a proverbial bird. Not that I want to undo everything I've done, and not that I'm looking to re-invent myself in any sense. I like what I've done so far, and I like myself, and I'm comfortable carrying my identity forward. But I'm trailing too much crap from my past behind me, and it's holding me back.

So everything in my life is potentially on the chopping block, everything is in question: possessions, relationships, habits, assumptions, old dreams, old resentments, all of it. If it doesn't help, it's gone.

And yeah, okay, re-installing Windows XP is a pretty meaningless way to express that drive. I mean, if I had my preference I'd buy another machine entirely, something better suited to my work, and doubtless sooner or later I will; but for now, this is as close as I can get. The small changes are really just signifiers for the bigger changes, although they're very helpful in their own way. Going through my books and scrapping the ones I don't care about enough to haul them over the Rockies might have slightly more symbolic significance, but it's hardly transformative. Getting rid of my car (or at least working towards it) is a bigger thing, and one that points to a number of deeper, more subtle changes that have already been taking place for a while now. Starting to think seriously about what I want -- my space, my work, my tools, my associates, my comforts, my day-to-day life -- and chipping away at even minor details in an effort to make it all real, is what's really going on.

But yeah, I'm lucky if this is how I get to experience my 30ish upheaval. I've seen it happen to a lot of people, but most commonly it seems to come about through destructive, chaotic means -- divorce, disaster, illness, bankruptcy, big awful things that happen to you more than for you. And obviously any of that could happen to me, as well. But at least I get a chance to do it because I want to, the way I want to, and make whatever I like of it; and not because it's being forced on me by circumstance. It takes a lot of work, though; it's a big project that requires a lot of fussy little sub-projects, some of which seem pointless and inconsequential. But it's also those details that are getting me through, the little things I can do right now that get me incrementally closer to where I want to end up.
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Tuesday, June 05, 2007
First Signs Of The Electronic Insurrection

Has anyone else had anything strange happen today? Particularly relating to electronic devices. So far today we've had three completely unrelated, completely unexpected, completely weird things go wrong with electronic devices, and it's starting to perplex me. I mean, one is odd, and two is a coincidence, but three before lunchtime is a little freaky.

Just me, right?
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Monday, June 04, 2007
Room

I spent a painfully boring day at work today. It was two hours of productivity followed by six hours of sitting at my desk with nothing to do -- not for lack of initiative, but because everyone else in the department was frantically doing other things, and keeping me occupied was their very lowest priority. And, y'know, fair enough. But I still ended up with a huge chunk of time to fill. Alas, my supervisor had told me on Friday that I'd be busy all day today -- I don't think she's quite figured out how quickly I work yet -- so I didn't bother schlepping my study books in with me. So it was me and the computer, and that was it.

I tried to write a blog post -- really I did. But there's just something about a cubicle, something about fluorescent lighting in a windowless room, something about listening to the guy on the other side of the cube wall eat Fritos with his mouth open, that sends all my creativity and enthusiasm gurgling down the drain. It's an acceptable environment for doing stupid, easy work, but a singularly hostile one for an active mind.

Why should setting be so important to creative work? I mean, if you've got it, it shouldn't matter where you find yourself, right? How many books have been written inside dank prison cells? How many poems have been written on battlefields? How many cheesy little ballads have been written in institutional dorm rooms? Okay, not many good ones, but you see my point: is it the location that's messing me up, or is it just my own head?

I have a vision in my mind of the perfect work space. I love lots of natural light and pale wood, and I love white. I've always responded to texture more strongly than to color, so left to my own devices I tend to pick out neutral colors with interesting textures, and white carries light so well. Not that any space should ever be just a symphony of multi-tonal white -- you need something to break it up or else you'll go snow-blind -- but a really well-done white room is the best thing ever.

And there'd be plenty of flat surfaces, a little open floor space, a wall consisting of nothing but bookshelves, and there'd be a big, comfortable chair for reading. There wouldn't be a television in sight -- the older I get, the more sensitive I seem to become to the presence of a television. For example, I can barely sleep in the same room with one these days; just having it there makes it hard for me to rest, and makes it harder to focus and concentrate. But if having a TV in the room is unavoidable (I need something to watch films on, after all), it should at least be something I can hide away so I don't have to feel that big, cloudy black eye glaring at me all the time. Quiet is important; peace, privacy, a little noise from the street but none from inside. I have to be able to open the windows to let the air in. Painted plaster walls (white, obviously, or close to it) for sticking notes to, and homemade art on the walls up where I can't reach to stick notes. And flowers -- there should be some flowers.

Do you think I could actually do more or better work in the right space, or am I just kidding myself?
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