Jason Gurley

By day, I'm a user experience designer; by evenings/weekends, I write novels from my home in Scappoose, Ore. My newest is Awake in the World, published February 2019 by Roaring Brook Press; my previous novel, Eleanor, was published by Crown in 2016 and has since been translated into German, Portuguese, and Turkish. I’m currently working on a new project.

Moving in

My time in the never-named writing office has come to an end. 

The office was a gift—from me to me—after Eleanor was sold to Crown. All of the novel's final edits were made in this office. Other projects were started, but not finished, here. My daughter loved to spend time here, reading or drawing as I worked, or dashing up and down the building's corridors on weekends. 

It was never the perfect office: There was no natural light, and the built-in fluorescents were oppressive and set on an unchangeable timer, which meant they'd flicker off when I was deep in the middle of a writing session. The room was almost always too warm, and required the constant use of a mostly ineffective fan. To concentrate, I used a white noise machine—provided by the therapist in the office next to mine, and without the use of which I could hear every word of her client sessions. (Often enough I could hear them over the white noise machine as well, no matter how loud.)

But I liked it. There was no room for me to write at home, so I'd been writing in coffee shops and libraries, where the distractions were plentiful. I'd unpack manuscript pages and pens and Post-Its and a laptop, write and edit for as long as I felt I could take advantage of the table space, then painstakingly gather all of my things again. The office meant I could leave my things strewn about, mid-project, without having to lug all that material around with me. 

So: I'll miss you office. I never gave you a name, but I still liked you.

The logistics of moving from one house to another are never straightforward. Most of the contents of our home remain in the current house we're renting, while we focus on things like emptying out a rented storage unit (so we don't have to pay for another month) and emptying out my aforementioned office before the lease is up. We'll hire movers for the majority of the other things, but we haven't hired them yet, or even packed very much. 

Last night I began unpacking parts of my office, and they started to fall into place in the new space. We've been referring to the new house as 'Hill House,' because it's on a hill, and because it has this suitably creepy red porch light that turns the front door into a gateway to hell. The office is in the belly of the house, and it shares a few characteristics of my prior office: no natural light, no connection to the house's A/C. 

But then, there's a years-long plan in place for this writing space. I'll write here for a couple of years. Eventually we'll build a small cottage on the property for Felicia's mother, at which point I'll move my office into the room she leaves behind. That room's quite a bit larger, has natural light and A/C. And then, in a few years or so, I hope to build a little writing shed—shack? cabin? workshop?—just down the hill, in the woods, where I'll set up more or less permanently. 

But for now, I'm moving in:

The mostly bare desk, the empty bookshelves, the extraordinarily heavy cartons of books

The mostly bare desk, the empty bookshelves, the extraordinarily heavy cartons of books

A makeshift reading/thinking/dozing corner

A makeshift reading/thinking/dozing corner

After a couple of hours of dragging things around and unpacking, I now have a pleasantly cluttered space. Lots to do, including sorting all of those books, blanketing the walls with art, etc. 

Eventually, though, I'll close the door and write the very first thing in my new, also-unnamed office. I wonder what it'll be? 

Froggie went a-courtin'

Moving on