Writing to Winston

As I write this on my laptop, I am listening to George Winston’s album December via Spotify. While not actually December, it is ibm selectricthe dead of winter here in the northeast, a brisk and cold 39°, on a cloudy Saturday afternoon. The first time I heard George Winston was back in the mid-80’s, at a friend’s house. Her boyfriend was playing this very album and it was love at first note. He made me a cassette and I listened to it constantly.

This particular time in my history is also an earlier time in my life when I declared I would be a writer. I was living alone in an adorable little dollhouse of a home, the last house on the dead-end of a neighborhood street. I was working as a real estate paralegal by day, managing apartment complexes by night, and doing community theatre on the weekends. Still, somehow, I did not feel fulfilled. I was yearning for some creative outlet that I had not yet found for myself. So, I decided to become a writer.

I went to the town’s one and only thrift store (more of a junkyard, really) and bought myself a small, student desk. I cleared out the walk-in linen closet in my hallway and furnished it with the desk, a small chair, my IBM Selectric, and a table lamp. I filled the shelves, designed for towels and sheets, with literary classics, books on writing, style manuals, and an enormous red hardback copy of the 1973 edition of The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, a high school graduation gift from a family that I regularly babysat for all throughout middle school and high school. I went room by room and collected artistic knickknacks and eccentric tchotchkes to decorate my writing space. I stocked the desk with paper, pens, and various other office supplies pilfered from my desk at work. I was ready for my transformation. I was ready to become a writer.

So, on Saturday mornings, after sleeping late (unless I had to show an apartment or answer to an emergency call of a clogged toilet or broken garbage disposal), I would make coffee, pop December into my cassette player and go to my walk-in closet/office to write. I have vivid and visceral memories of the experience, especially on sunny, brisk days when I had the windows open. Even from the interior of my new “walk-in office”, I could feel the cool breeze and hear George Winston’s melodic piano wafting through the whole house. I loved that walk-in office. It was perfect, bliss. Even now, thirty years later, hearing December brings back such lovely memories of my time in that little house.

One of the positives of turning a walk-in closet into an office is that you can close the door and hide it from the rest of the world. No fear of someone reading a rough draft of something that has not been put through the editing and revising process. No pressure to perform or display signs of success at this new activity because no one knows anything about it.

On the other hand, one of the negatives of turning a walk-in closet into an office is that you can close the door and hide it from yourself. The transformation simply did not take place. I remember sitting at that little desk and I remember typing, but I have no idea what I actually wrote while in there. I have no tangible evidence of it, either. I didn’t save anything that I produced from that walk-in office, if I ever produced anything at all.

George Winston is still a favorite of mine, and I have been fortunate enough to see him in concert twice. I love how he has concert-goers bring canned goods to the concert, which he then donates to a local shelter near the concert venue. I love his new work but his older pieces, specifically the songs from December, still speak to me. They have a calming effect on me and they awaken in me that same yearning from many years ago, to be creative, to become a writer.

The little student desk now serves as a vanity where I put on makeup and do my hair. The IBM Selectric is long gone. Today I write from my laptop in our home office, shared space with my husband and daughters. I play George Winston on my laptop, my phone, or tablet. I have embraced social media, actively posting about literature and writing on Twitter, Goodreads, and Facebook. I write articles for a small regional newspaper. I have a binder filled with tangible evidence of my work, mostly essays but some fiction, too. I have been published as a guest blogger on two websites as well as in an alumni publication. I have my own website where my writing is out in the open for all to see and read. I’m still on track for my goal of writing and publishing an essay a week for one year. Is the transformation complete? Am I writer yet? I don’t know. For now, I will keep plugging away at my goal, keep writing to Winston.

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