Some many years previous, I recall listening to a guest lecture from — I think — the great man of American Art and Letters, John Updike. My memory is not to be trusted, but it would’ve been some two, no, three decades distant, and it would be his speaking engagement at ASU in Tempe, AZ.
I can’t recall the exact purpose of the lecture, probably to earn him a handsome honorarium, and possibly to promote a book — or something.
What he described, the part I clearly recall, describing his house, in New England, with a second floor that was mostly windows, and he would be able to follow the sun through the course of his day, as he worked on a manuscript. Perhaps he was writing a novel, a short story, or, as he implied, correspondence. That would be in the bad, old days, when “correspondence” was done via regular postal services.
Print out the message and hand it over to be answered with a printed out message.
This rumination is brought by my current, winter-like system, which, in part, dovetails into the hardware. I’ve gotten used to getting up in the cold, on dark winter mornings, and working in the kitchen on an older iPad with an attached keyboard. Not ideal, but serviceable, and functional while coffee brews and the day arrives.
The current kitchen windows are west-facing so there is no inkling of morning light, no rosy pink glow, no ascending orange fireball, but, as of late, I’ve gotten more comfortable with that darkness, gradually, after making a full pot of coffee, moving myself back into the office. Wrong facing again, but the light gradually bounces off the buildings, and there’s a process, a series of motions, and the desk itself, still a standing desk.
Late afternoon, after a productive day, or otherwise, I’ll find myself at the kitchen table again, and there is always familiar feel to a kitchen table, soft maple hue, hard wooden chair, the familiar keyboard reconciling thoughts and reflections for the day, and the afternoon sun, streaming in through the shutters.
The process — as winter approaches — starts in the kitchen now. Making coffee, having the morning handful of pills and such, then watching as words start crawl across the pages.
The mechanical backend is less technical, and more interesting. I start on an iPad, in the kitchen, opening up a set of essentially text-format documents, then proceed to type, flipping back and forth to website, correspondence, news, all while making coffee.
The word processor I tend to use these days is called Ulysses, and it syncs in real time with the cloud thing — no sooner do I walk from the kitchen to the office , then I can open up whatever I last typed while in the other room, now me on a different machine, then I’m working at standing by my desk.
Tablet, laptop, desktop. All talking to each other. But I kept thinking about that talk from the great author of American letters, as he had described the way he would follow the sun around the house, as the light shifted, moving from room to room, as the day progressed. I may not be there, quite yet, but I’m getting closer.
Process, sometimes difficult to understand, yields results.