I once stumbled across a rather striking quote from Ernest Hemmingway:   ‘There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.’ 

Writing is a pain, yet a privilege. It is a ritual of spilling everything from your fears to your love onto a page. It is prying a piece of yourself and fitting it in among a puzzle of words. I have yet to come across a person whose experience with writing is all but terrifying.  

All writers have every right to take pride in their work. How could they not? There is so much that goes into writing anything, whether it be jotted down daily journal entries to hastily scribbled poetry. The sheer amount of travail and ardent yearning that goes into each and every single work of art is alone, remarkable. 

Thanks to the multiple sleepless nights prying my eyes open in order to find some, elusive form of inspiration, I’ve found that there are certain objects, people, music or even situations that seem to best stimulate my writing process. Most often, that certain something acts as a constant in the turbulent world of writing. 

My desk is where the magic happens. It has seen me through years of conflict and progression and life’s many plot pivots. There is a certain feel of hospitality to it now – that feeling of always being welcomed back with open arms.

Writing in that very spot holds a certain relief. Amidst the oddly comforting peace of the Google Document’s blank emptiness, my words sing to me. They are a choir of light and hope and infinite forthcomings. 

The familiarity of the wood under my fingers is a comforting thing, adding what I hope is a touch of warmth and opulence to my writing.

With this blank canvas all ready to be coated with vibrant flicks of paint, I begin to apply the first strokes of colour, the soft dove grey of night to dawn. As my words start to outline the defining shapes of paragraphs, I am taken by the hand further and further into the far-offish land of wonder, technicolour locution and spellwork.

Though my surroundings have remained just the exact same, the tall skyscrapers of paragraphs hide and soften reality’s glare, and the world around me clouds over into a stew of hues. The only thing grounding me to this unfortunate reality is the familiar rough wood of my desk, barricading me from fully immersing myself in these fictional tales of lore.

In truth, I often find myself at a loss of words anywhere other than my desk. The unfamiliar plastic of any library’s table brings me nothing except discomfort. In this place of hushed flipping and muffled stillness, it feels as if all eyes are on me. I feel compelled to bow over the screen, protective as if guarding a sacred gift from the heavens. 

Day-to-day things lay my heart at ease, even if just by a little. This statement in itself is hardly debatable. It is a rarity to hear of someone who consciously and constantly seeks out all the exhilaration and chaos the world has to offer.

There is easy comfort in the familiar. It is a solace amidst the flurry of life. This itch for the expected and familiar has been recognised as the ‘mere-exposure effect’, a scarily common psychological occurrence, in which a preference for something, from food to people to books, arises merely due to familiarity. 

     In search of a potential sparring partner, I sought out Sophia Lee, my classmate of two years, infamous for steering clear of her desk at any given chance. I asked her one day what the reason for this firm avoidance was. She never seemed to be working at her desk at all.  

‘I don’t even do my homework at my desk,’ she quips, dead serious.  ‘I do it on my bed.’

Her bed is her go-to writing location, she shares.  

‘My desk reminds me of work, so I get stressed more easily.’ She continues, shrugging with a deadpan expression on her face,  ‘Also my bed is more comfortable. It’s got a more welcoming environment.’

And indeed, places laden with emotion are oft-times the byproduct of increased exposure to it, thus the cleverly dubbed ‘mere-exposure effect’. For me, someone who spends hours at my desk, for homework and breaks, the table has become my medium. 

Writing in a café is a foreign, almost unnatural, feeling to me. Where my surroundings are dewy in the fresh glow of the unfamiliar, my heartbeat crescendos and I feel a tight squeeze of nerves sift in my chest, churning as it waits to take over. It wallows inside me, a fiery mess slowly sending me spiralling into a tornado of anxiety I absolutely do not need. The air is a bitter combination of coffee beans and distant chatter, and I find myself battling an invariable annoyance. 

This is not where I want to be.

I glance towards my Google Document, still barren and lacking the usual iridescence that is practically omnipresent when at my desk. In my heart, there is an out-of-place twitch that makes me antsy in my seat. 

There is just something about my desk that sings so sweetly to me. Perhaps it is the familiar sight of it that I have grown to love so much, or maybe the multitude of keepsakes that are my guiding lights.

So now, in this inky sea of black darkness, as my MacBook hums its final goodnights to me, I will sweetly sing back a fond ‘See you again’ to the marriage of words and canvas. I will run my hand along these stubble tracks of wooden table for the last time on this fateful night and whisper my gratifications.

For there is nothing of greater worth than sitting at my desk and typing my heart out, to feel each word embed a piece of me into its sea of letters. 

And as Ernest Hemmingway so perfectly put it: ‘Never go on trips with anyone you do not love’. 

With that, I’d like to introduce my desk, who so valiantly has been my companion through stormy ocean seas, nighttime strolls through the ruins of churches, and the everlasting world of writing.

Jaclyn Lee (Class of 2023) writes to feel, and feels to write. She first started writing her own stories at the age of 4, after discovering that writing about fairies is, unfortunately, much more viable than becoming one.