I volunteer as a tour guide on the weekends, leading vacationers through an old house in the middle of a botanical garden owned by the city. I’ve learned to point out things I never would have noticed–the claws on the paws at the base of each front leg on the sideboard in the dining room, the Parcheesi table inlaid with 27 different types of wood.
I point out a bed and bookcase in particular, both hand-carved in the 1860s. Think about that. The 1860s. 150 years ago. This bed stands strong, on thick legs and adorned with carved flowers on the headboard. The bookcase is made of a very dark wood, almost black, and the carvings on it depict the arts, such as with a woman holding a mask, representing drama. When you sway, the hand-blown glass ripples in the light.
I have no furniture like this. My furniture came from Ikea, all of it. My boyfriend and I snapped together parts and laid all the screws and bolts out on the floor like they were instruments gleaming before an operation. We learned about ourselves in these endeavors, but we certainly didn’t spend months carving designs out of tough pieces of wood, pieces strong enough to frame our sleeping lives.
What is your writing like? Is it like the pieces of wood from Ikea–easily assembled, fun to look at, and practical? Or is it like furniture from the 1860s–heavy and ornate and built to last? Is it a mix between the two, such as a durable Arts and Crafts piece from the mid-1900s?
Are any of these better than the others? Well, that all depends on your taste and personal opinion. Think of each type of writing you encounter every day and consider: does this piece say something? Is it built to last?