Last week I signed the lease on a 285 square foot art studio on the third floor of a refurbished mill building in Lowell. I move into my new writing space on April 1. Perhaps the joke is on me.
The idea of renting a studio for writing came out of nowhere. One day I remembered the building from a feature article I wrote about some local artists and the next thing I knew I was sending an email inquiry asking about small studios. The lease had fallen through on a space and within a few days I was in for a tour and fell in love with it.
The windows, the brick, the floor, the history, and even the giant industrial heater suspended above seemed like the perfect place to finally do battle with my lifelong inability to produce regular writing. The only person that needed convincing was me.
I explained to myself that having a dedicated space that I could regularly visit without the distractions from my day to day life is just what I need. I added that perhaps I could even make enough money from this new writing to pay for the space in which I would now write all this writing. I made a persuasive argument and immediately handed over the security deposit.
But now that move in day is approaching I have my doubts. I’m starting to feel surprisingly self-consious about taking on a physical space for a mental exercise. Isn’t the idea that writing is something you can do anywhere? Any corner with a chair and table, at the library, or even Starbucks? It’s not like I don’t have space at home that I already pay for, but none of it was working. My head and all its noise travels with me.
Then there’s the matter of the “traditional” artists around me, the painters, sculptors, photographers, fiber artists, and jewelry designers. My art experiences are limited to a jewelry making class at Mass College of Art in my 20s (that produced a sterling silver ring) and a sculpting class in my second semester of college (that produced a bronzed and headless nude figure). I still have both pieces, but one no longer fits.
And what to do with the large gallery space outside of my door? A wall of my very own to showcase my work. Should I frame essays? Print pithy Tweets? Produce and display a daily stream of consciousness? Leaving it blank seems too defeatist and yet the symbolism is spot on.
I know that writing is an art. But I’m not sure that what I produce or may produce would classify as such. I guess what remains appealing is not knowing exactly what will happen in that room. Who knows? Maybe the deafening white noise of that heater will drown out my thoughtful distractions. Perhaps the constant presence of turpentine and oils will suspend my apprehension in letting the words just come out.
We’ll see. It’s just a week and 20 minutes away.