September has been a really long month for me, mentally. Making that long story short, what I can say is that as my mental health improves, it means I can look at deeper issues or things I just kind of shoved aside and ignored while under a lot of tension. While this is absolutely helpful, in that I’m kind of able to excavate down and deal with emotional problems that have needed some kind of solution for years, it is particularly draining.
Which brings me to interesting things I picked up from two inspiring people – Adam Savage, and Joe Abercrombie. Adam Savage you’ll know as one of the hosts of Mythbusters, Joe Abercrombie might be familiar to you if you’re into fantasy literature, but if not, he’s my favourite still-living author.
Joe posted a video on twitter where his publishers took a look at his brand new bookshelves – which are massive, custom-fitted to his home, and even has a beauty and the beast belle’s library style sliding ladder. And somehow, looking at this bookshelf, and thinking about bookshelves in general – but specifically as this thing you build into your home when, as a writer, you have this huge love affair with books – I realized that bookshelves make me feel safe. Somehow secluded from the rest of the world.
This dovetailed into something Adam Savage said as a passing remark during one of the many Tested.com youtube videos he hosts – he said he looks at his workshop as a sort of oasis. This place where he has all of his tools and spare parts lined up and organized, work spaces, a little area to store favourite things he’s made or collected. A workspace and a retreat in one.
At the time I found this to be counterintuitive. We keep our work and our rest spaces separate, don’t we? But as I thought about it, Joe Abercrombie’s bookshelves snuck back to my mind. Maybe the kind of work that we aspire to do through our own inner motivation – especially artistic expression – isn’t the kind of work we go out into a big threatening world to do. Maybe it’s the kind of work we do in some kind of safety, whether psychological or physical. Maybe it makes perfect sense that Adam Savage’s workshop is effectively a home of sorts for him. Maybe the instinct to cover the walls of a writer’s workspace with bookshelves is perfectly natural – and it’s not to ensure reference material is close to hand.
Maybe the relationship we have with our work, especially work that we aspire to do creatively, needs to be seen as something we can nourish and in turn be nourished by. Something that it is natural to do in an emotional oasis, slightly away and aside from the other concerns in our lives. Which, as I continue to explore and figure out my work/life balance after things being so disrupted for so long, is a very helpful thought to keep in mind.
As usual, the Patreon’s paused, and, as usual, I am somewhat horrified by the local political news. Assuming I’m still here next month and haven’t suffered something horrific and Brexit related, I’ll post another update on what’s going on and what I’m thinking then.