Before I moved to this house, my office was a five-by-five space between the living room and the kitchen. I could open the refrigerator and grab a snack without getting up from my chair, but I had no privacy. The result was a lack of concentration, frustration, and a drop in productivity. However, I completed my book Night Court in that tiny office, so I guess I did get some work done there.
My current office is a room in the western part of my new home. I like that, because I have always loved both the word “west” and the direction “west.” It might have something to do with the spectacular smog-streaked sunsets I observed when I was a child in Southern California during the 1960s. The air is cleaner now, but I’ll never forget watching the red sun sinking into the Pacific on summer evenings. That sun appears in many of the drawings I made as a child.
I’m deeply grateful to have this space where I can work, this room with green walls and a quirky ceiling that goes in every direction. It has a door. It is private. Even though I have not occupied it for very long, it already feels like a sacred space. Virginia Woolf would be proud of it.
I do most of my work at the desk in the above photograph, but I also have an “analog” space with my grandmother’s 1932 Royal typewriter and a windup clock.
A triangle of light takes all afternoon to travel to the corner of the wall above the desk before it disappears. It reminds me of when Lily Briscoe says, “A light here requires a shadow there” in Woolf’s novel To the Lighthouse. She’s talking about making a painting; a good poem is also a balance of light and dark.
I have a space on top of a bookshelf where I’ve collected a few mementos. The stuffed cat and teddy bear were my children’s, the Kalimba came from The African Store in Eugene, Oregon, the red car is from Dresden, Germany, and the book is a handmade art book I bought in California. I can’t remember where I got the Troll Doll. When I was a child, my aunt had a bunch of them and they fascinated me.
People often ask me where I get my ideas. Many begin as notes, doodles and sketches in journals. I started visual journaling about fifteen years ago – adding drawings, watercolor, and collage to the written word.
Here’s a journal page featuring a quote from Thomas Paine, some interesting postal stamps, some collaged images, and a note that might have made its way into a poem.
While pondering the meaning of life, Lily Briscoe concluded, “the great revelation perhaps never came. Instead, there were little daily miracles, illuminations, matches struck unexpectedly in the dark.” That’s what I want to discover, as the triangle of light travels across the wall in my green room. Like Lily, I try to “make of the moment something permanent.”
About the Author: Erica Goss
Erica Goss is a poet and freelance writer. She served as Poet Laureate of Los Gatos, CA from 2013-2016. She is the author of Night Court, winner of the 2016 Lyrebird Award, Wild Place and Vibrant Words: Ideas and Inspirations for Poets. Recent work appears in Lake Effect, Atticus Review, Contrary, Eclectica, The Red Wheelbarrow, Main Street Rag, Pearl, Rattle, Wild Violet, and Comstock Review, among others. She is co-founder of Media Poetry Studio, a poetry-and-film camp for teen girls. Please visit her at www.ericagoss.com and connect with her on Facebook, Linked In, and Vimeo.