For me it’s as much about time as place. Time and context, maybe, which is a way of starting to explain why the woodshop’s workbench doubles as my favourite writing space. I have my desk at home too, where I write properly in my notebook, and edit OpenOffice docs on my cherished and ancient computer, but something about the rhythm of building things makes me want to write. I’ll turn over phrases in my head while sanding pieces; I’ll pull up my notes app, unwilling to forget a certain line or idea. Back and forth through the shop, switching from tool to tool, hands and body busy, and every part of me aware there’s something I want to say. And then, eventually, lunchtime hits, the shop empties out, things get quiet (or at least quieter), and I can sit down and write.
“So much of writing requires hope and faith.”
I’m sure many writers feel the same longing while at their day jobs. At work we’re the most alert and quick-minded that we will be all day, but we’re not free to use that for ourselves. I’m just lucky that the tactile nature of my work helps my writing. I think it’s similar to how people keep pen and paper on their nightstands. Dreaming awakens the part of them that can receive inspiration. Or maybe it’s more how athletes feel after winning a match—that exhilaration, the adrenaline rush. In any case, as a writing space, the woodshop itself acts as inspiration, as well as serving one more purpose. So much of writing requires hope and faith. For me, writing at my workbench renews that faith daily. Being surrounded by my tools, my notes, my projects, all of them evidence of a trade learned and deeply loved, serves as a kind of reassurance: a reminder that I know one kind of making, and that I can learn to practice another.
Meraj Zafar works as a cabinetmaker in Toronto, Ontario, having previously worked in communications in the not-for-profit sector. She has a B.A. in English from the University of Toronto.