A note they neglect to tell writers: choose the ideal desk. Something spacious. Maybe mahogany or walnut, some dark wood with the scent of the forest thick in the grain. Comfort is key for the long haul. If it’s expensive, start saving. Statistics show sixty-three percent of authors haunt their desks after death. All those unfinished thoughts and pages left unwritten are like glue. It happened to Doyle and Austen and Tolkien and Poe. Their homes have been converted into museums. Go look. You’ll see them, eternally seated, scribbling on ethereal parchment.
Don’t be cheap. Consider eternity. Consider the yawning maw of time. Consider waiting for Armageddon in a single seat attempting to write the final chapter from the unfinished novel your publisher released as a fragmentary series, the one reviews criticized for its weak plot and two-dimensional characters. You were clear about your wish to have it burned in the furnace.
The edits would have fixed it all, you’ll mutter through translucent lips as you wait for that final meteor to wipe away the page before you.
- Your Will
A third note for writers: make your will clear in regard to your desk. Your heirs will ignore the furnace part, but they won’t ignore this.
You don’t want that roll-top to end up in a yard sale, sold for five bucks to a heavy smoker with fifteen cats who lives in a basement apartment with no windows. Is that where you want your spirit to reside for the next thirty years? The next hundred?
Make sure your last of kin avoids high bidders and deal hunters who own boutique furniture shops specializing in haunted fixtures. Spending eternity in a converted mill showroom with couches possessed by deceased starlets and the drafting table of Frank Lloyd Wright is less glamorous than you’d think.
Haunted desks are expensive and slow to sell. You’ll be on the show floor for a while.
There’s nothing worse than a room filled with deceased authors arguing over who would have won a Pulitzer or Nobel if they’d had three more years. They’re almost as bad as the ones trying to convince window shoppers to write down their words, to squeeze out a last story that would keep their memory from fading, their name alive on living tongues. Writing isn’t about that. You’ll never convince shoppers to put words to paper, to fill out the SASE, or research the name of the correct editor to send it to.
Don’t harass the living. No one likes a nagging ghost.
- Final Suggestions
Based on polling the dead: have your last remaining kin drop your desk in the same forest from which it was hewn. Set the legs in the moss beneath a tall pine. Arrange your chair to face a nearby stream, close enough to hear water burble, and see frogs and turtles wading in the wash. The birdsong will be soothing. It will make you forget the chapters you never got to, the stories trapped in your file cabinet waiting to be polished. Avoid the glades already inhabited by other authors’ desks. See reasons above. Choose a spot far off the main road, a place only hunters and foragers will find. Avoid locations crisscrossed with public trails and woodland hotspots for middle school field trips.
You spend your whole life sifting through voices. The last thing you need is any more haunting you after death.
Corey Farrenkopf lives on Cape Cod with his wife, Gabrielle, and works as a librarian. His work has been published in/is forthcoming from Nightmare, The Deadlands, SmokeLong Quarterly, The Southwest Review, Bourbon Penn, and elsewhere. His debut novel, Living in Cemeteries, will be released from JournalStone in April of 2024. He is the Fiction Editor for The Cape Cod Poetry Review. To learn more, follow him on Twitter at @CoreyFarrenkopf, on TikTok @CoreyFarrenkopf, or on the web at CoreyFarrenkopf.com