Unless you’re a Hemingway wannabe with no discernible personality of your own, you do 99.99% of your writing while in the classic sitting position. I, for example, am in said position as I write this post, and am far more comfortable than I was while writing part 3 of this series. Why is that? Well, since I feel compelled to answer questions posed by myself, it’s because I have a new chair.
Some people say the key to good writing is imagination, or intelligence, or a flair for the English language, or an ear for story material. Sure, those all help. No question. But when you really get down to the creation of fiction, you need a good chair. If your ass is uncomfortable, you’ll be unhappy, you won’t be at it for long, and all you’ll end up with are some angry haikus.
I was dangerously close to angry haikus. The chair I owned, a black padded swivel job with adjustable arms, plastic casters, and a covering that aspired to leatherdom, had been an improvement over my previous perch, a wooden chair that came from some early 20th century factory office. But after years of being subjected to repeated lowerings of my ass, the seat of the black chair had finally succumbed, its pad compressed to oblivion. I may as well have been sitting on a crate of peaches.
My natural inclination, rather than passing the uncomfortable chair onto someone that I knew and perhaps respected, was to place the battered beast on the side of the road with a FREE sign stapled to the nearest telephone pole. But most writers are romantics, and I, falling into that category, suddenly felt a melancholy creeping over me at the prospect of parting with my chair. How could I abandon my faithful old companion? We started together at the York County Coast Star, where I honed my craft week after week. I brought him home (yes, it’s a him; after all, he’s not a rifle or a guitar), where we worked on several novels and plays together, plus numerous songs, letters, and optimistic haikus. And now I was going to cast him out like a package of green-edged English muffins I had forgotten about storing on top of the refrigerator in that enormous mixing bowl? What was I thinking?
And yes, a little part of me was concerned that the Dana M. Pearson Memorial Museum & Library would look incomplete without the chair I had sat upon while writing my first novels. I admit it. So there. Sue me.
I had given up hope on finding my Holy Grail of Chairs, long being a fan of the high-back tufted leather lawyer-type chair, you know, in a deep reddish-brown that looks great by firelight, because they don’t do much in the way of lumbar support. I settled on a brown leather swivel number from Staples for just over $300, an amount that made me feel as though I wasn’t being blatantly cheap while also guaranteeing a quality product. Lumbar is everything when you’re over 40.
Finally, like the deus ex machina that she is, Diane – you know, my wife – came to the rescue by saying she could use my old chair up at her office. I asked if she found it uncomfortable, and it was delicately revealed to me that less padding is needed on a chair when the one sitting on it doesn’t weigh 190 pounds.
Problem solved. The chair stays within reach until such time that a certain museum requires it. Unless Diane wants to sit in it while gazing at my statue.