I live with an artist. He is a talented painter named Rufus Chalmers. Here is a sample of one of his pieces.
We not only live together, we work together in the same room. It's not that big.
It used to be my office, the place where I could create and think and process and, hopefully, come out at the end of the day with a few effective pages. I furnished the room with a desk, my laptop, a sofa and some bookshelves.
Now the front half is my space and the rear half is Rufus' studio where he has an easel, art supplies, the pieces he's working on and his computer. All my furniture is still here.
Did I tell you the room isn't that big?
I never thought I could share my space. I thought I needed silence and privacy to do good work. A door that closed to shut out the rest of the world--which for a long time consisted only of my two Siberian huskies. Well, okay, I didn't shut them out of my office. They used to lie at my feet or under my desk. They still do.
Did I mention the room isn't that big?
Now here's the interesting thing. Everything I thought I needed isn't really what I need. Not that I want a loud party in progress as I work--I value the silence. I can't write without it. But I've learned that having another creative person working in the same room actually helps me do better work. I think better. The writing flows better.
First of all, I get to try things out on Rufus. I can say," Will you listen to this scene and tell me what you think?" Not only do I get the benefit of his opinion, I get to hear the words out loud, get a better idea of how well the scene reads.
Second of all--and I never thought I would say this--I benefit when he interrupts me to ask my opinion on his progress. I get to ask him questions, see how his mind works. See how he solves problems.
When he's excited about his work, it helps me stay excited about mine. If something inspires him, it's easier for me to get inspired.
It helps that we like each other's work.
I don't know how it would be if we were both writers or both painters. Maybe a competitive element would creep in. But as it is we work well together. Writing is very different from painting. Perhaps it is in the differences that we enrich one another.
By the way, did I mention the room isn't that big!