Issue 53 Oct 29, 2023

Home spaces

I’m not disciplined enough to be able to create anywhere. For example, I’ve written a lot over the years, but barring some technical editing, I’ve never been able to do any of it in my office. That’s not because the office isn’t a creative space – it most certainly is when it comes to digital art, design, and development – I just can’t do any writing at the same desk.

Which is why I write at home, as many of us do. Now, I live in an apartment in central Stockholm with my wife and the bonus kid, and there’s just no way to have an extra room there. I don’t have a door to close to my writing space, is what I’m saying. It’s also, typically, the most common advice to aspiring writers: Get your writing space, with a door that you can close. There’s a reason for that, as many of you probably get.

The kitchen table, a staple in the world of writers, is my preferred writing spot at home. The chairs are a bit stiff after a while, but the height is perfect, and the kitchen is a nice room. I like to write there, and have written plenty of essays at the far-end seat of the table. That was sparked today’s line of thinking, as it were. You see, I never sit there otherwise. It just happens to be a great place to write. Part of it is practical, there’s no annoying screen glare from the window, and you’re not in the way when someone want to get to the sink, dishwasher, or fridge. I had an inkling that it wasn’t that simple though. That seat has something special.

I dabble in digital drawing at times, using an iPad and an Apple Pencil, and Procreate (at the moment). I’m not particularly good, but I’m learning, and there’s an inkling of style evolving. It’s therapeutic, I like it.

I do my digital drawing sitting in the couch in the living room. Our living room is wonderful, with two big sofas facing each other, a nice record collection, a book shelf, and the smallest TV you’d imagine. It’s for playing digital music, mostly. We have decorated our living room around social activities, and music listening.

It turns out, I always sit in the same spot when I draw. At first I thought it was because it’s the spot I generally choose, the one best tailored for music listening thanks to the mammoth B&W speakers I’ve got set up, but it’s not. You see, when I’m listening to music at night, using headphones obviously, I pick the exact opposite couch and seat.

What gives? There are no practical explanations here.

It’s not like when I’m playing something on my ROG Ally, a portable gaming PC. I only play in the evenings, and most of the things I play on the Ally isn’t suitable for a six year old. And while he generally stays in bed like a good boy, there’s always a risk that he’d come up for whatever reason, and I’d rather not have him see how I disembowel people in Mortal Kombat 1 over my shoulder. Naturally, I pick the couch where I don’t have my back to the hallways, making it impossible for him to sneak up on me. That makes sense. Not picking the same spot when drawing doesn’t. I mean, I might be drawing something scary?

Having started looking at my various places to do creative things in my home, I couldn’t stop. There’s a desk in the hallway. It houses a big wall-mounted screen, and a gaming PC on the floor. I got it to play Starfield, which I’ve yet to do, but I do like it, and have enjoyed Baldur’s Gate 3 and some Mortal Kombat 1 sessions. Well, every other week, that is, when we don’t have the kid because passing in the hallway is entirely plausible, and who knows what monstrosities pop up on the screen?

I digress. Said desk is for gaming, but the screen has Thunderbolt so I’ve used it for work too. Stage Manager on the iPad Pro has come far since it was introduced, although not far enough, but that’s a different matter. What’s interesting is, I thoroughly enjoy playing games at the desk, and doing some light work is fine in a pinch (the office is three minutes away, it has to be a real pinch), but I’ve found that I can’t write there. It turns out, that desk gives me the same silly blockade as the desk at the office.

I’ve got a reading chair in the bedroom. Well, I say I but we got a reading chair in the bedroom, that only I use. It’s an armchair, low and comfortable, not ergonomically correct in any sense. Naturally, I’ve managed to write in there, hunched over a computing device, making sure to do everything humanely possible to ruin my neck and back. There’s literally a desk ten steps from there, but no.

It’s all about how it feels to me, and the same kind of spaces have, I realized, existed in most of my homes. The only time I wrote in an organized fashion at a proper desk was when I was a teenager. That was where my computer was, I didn’t have much choice. No iPads or laptops back then, the former didn’t exist and the latter was so bad and expensive they just didn’t make sense yet. It seems as if breaking away from the desk, as a place to put words in order, was a big deal to me. I’ve searched for smaller and smaller devices ever since, to give me even more freedom to find the perfect space to write. Writing turned to drawing, and to other things over the years, but other than the things that truly benefit from a typical office desk setup, I’ve moved away from the desks. Luckily, there are plenty of optional spaces available, if you look hard enough.


🪧 The writers strike might be over, but the actors are still on the picket lines. No solution in sight, it would seem. Four months is a long time without an income for the vast majority of the Sag-Aftra members.

🤡 Fascinating piece on The Epoch Times, a news operation that everyone should know is not to be trusted, and yet it is staggeringly successful.

🤖 Shocker: Developers of AI models fail to be transparent about the data.

🥮 Poison your images to make AI think a hat is a cake. Love it!

🇸🇪 140 years later, the Swedish dictionary is finally done. Except, now it needs to be updated with all the new words. And so it goes on and on and on and on and…

🐯 Bill Watterson is back with a book called The Mysteries, and it does sound interesting. Naturally, when The New Yorker covers it, it’s mostly about Calvin and Hobbes

✈️ Salzburg Airport does not have a help desk for passengers who mistakenly fly to Austria instead of Australia. Shame. Also, completely predictable.

📸 Encrypted digital signatures in the new Leica camera, that’s interesting, especially when it becomes standard, and includes that poison thing for AI models scraping your photos. Apple, where are you on this? I’d expect such a feature from you, not Leica.

🚕 An app gives Uber drivers better insight into each ride’s earnings, which Uber took to court, and lost. While the story certainly isn’t over, it comes as no surprise that Uber wants control over the data available to its drivers. The end result being that fares are accepted by a driver without really knowing how much they earn, which seems backwards since no one’s making a bundle being an Uber driver.

💬 Fascinating piece on people having relationships with AI chatbots. This warrants a much larger thought than just quipping about a link. Go read it.

Got something I should read? Send it to me, either by replying to this letter, hitting up on Bluesky, or any of the other means that appeal to you. Thanks!


📚 Reading a Swedish book called Häng City, by Mikael Yvesand. Just started so not much to say about it yet.

🎵 Rolling Stones’ Hackney Diamonds is pretty good, but man is that overly polished.

📺 We saw Stop Making Sense, the remastered Talking Heads concert movie, at the cinema. It was quite the experience.

🎮 I haven’t really played anything this week, just a few courses of Super Mario Wonder, and a couple of rounds of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe with the kid. Hope to finally start Starfield next week, but don’t hold your breath…

Speaking of spaces, I have a new one. The studio is finally resembling something I’d like to share, so expect an update on that in the future. I’ve been using it a bit already, albeit not for writing, which I aim to do in there as well.

What’s your favorite space to create? Tell me, and maybe find some time to spend there for a bit. It’s always rewarding, albeit not necessarily easy, isn’t it?

— Thord D. Hedengren ⚡

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