- Editors' Pick
I needed a place to work. That at least is the explanation I prepared for anybody who asked about the little building going up, very slowly, in the woods behind my house. I was building a ''home office,'' an enterprise so respectable that the Government gives you a tax deduction for it. The fact that it would also be a room of one's own, a temple of solitude off the beaten track of everyday life, was a part of the plan I kept to myself.
Since I am someone who lives in his head much of the time—who makes his living as a writer—this probably sounds reasonable enough, if perhaps a little dreamy. What made considerably less sense, however, was that I wanted to build this place myself, with my own two unhandy hands. This part of the dream would entail a journey for which I was singularly unprepared, a journey into a realm where I had never attempted anything more ambitious than the weatherstripping of a window. It was a journey that certain comfortable abstractions would not survive, including one called lumber. That particular euphemism fell one snowy morning in January, the day a flatbed truck from the lumberyard backed four massive timbers of fir—prone trunks more than 20 feet long—into my driveway: so these were the trees I was proposing to turn into the frame of my little house.
Since each timber weighed more than a quarter of a ton, the lumberyard had sent two men to help unload. A friend also happened to be on hand, and after taking a few minutes to small talk and gather ...