finding a clear work space + e.b. white on “stuff”

photo: jill krementz

Although our borrowed cabin in the country was not quite as spare as Charlotte’s Web author E.B. White’s enviable makeshift work space (in his boat shed overlooking Allen Cove in 1976, pre internet), we are refreshed by going minimal for a week, in nature and quiet.

We were so intrigued by White’s utterly simple, focused space, that we browsed some of his essays. We were amused  and heartened to read of White’s eloquent stuggle with “stuff” in “Goodbye to Forty-eighth Street:

For some weeks now I have been engaged in dispersing the contents of this apartment, trying to persuade hundreds of inanimate objects to scatter and leave me alone. It is not a simple matter. I am impressed by the reluctance of one’s worldly goods to go out again into the world. During September I kept hoping that some morning, as if by magic, all books, pictures, records, chairs, beds, curtains, lamps, china, glass utensils, keepsakes would drain away from around my feet, like the outgoing tide, leaving me standing silent on a bare beach. But this did not happen…

…a six-room apartment holds as much paraphernalia as an aircraft carrier. You can whittle away at it, but to empty the place completely takes real ingenuity and great staying power.

It seems like “stuffism” is an age-old and enduring challenge, and White’s solution was, simply, to take himself “out” of it to write and think. We’ve found that can work wonders.

….and right after we finished this post, we stumbled on a website of insanely messy workspaces (viewer discretion advised).

via Cabin Porn

Related posts: 3 rules for editing your life
desktop (+floor +wall) inspirations from unlikely sources
what a messy desk really means
dieter roth’s workspace + the courage to ‘leave crap the way it is’
what’s the perfect desk (for you)?
11 questions to ask before buying something

One Response to finding a clear work space + e.b. white on “stuff”

  1. Beth 10.23.2012 at 9:27am #

    I’ve been actively pairing down, reducing my “stuff” for almost 4 years now. It is very hard to start, but each time I go through things it is easier, almost fun. I’ve gone from a 2,000 sq ft, 3-floor home to about 550 sq ft. And I still have too much. But it’s getting better. I’m preparing to travel more and don’t want a permanent residence. My goal is to put everything I own in 2 suitcases.

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