Years ago, before work changed the way it did, people talked about setting up small offices for people working at home. At that point, every one had an office. You needed a copier, a central place for messages to be taken, a fax machine. If you were very lucky (or paid a lot) a place for file storage.
Enterprising work-at-homers gathered to start small offices. There was a meeting room, work cubicles, perhaps a receptionist and all the shared technology. It was in an office building and someone cleaned it up. You paid a certain fee per month and got everything you needed to function. Including the occasional meeting at the water cooler. It was a good and very temporary system.
The technology changed so quickly and as it changed, so did our work. Cell phones, laptops 3-in-one printer/copier/scanners became completely affordable, even as written documents became more and more obsolete. If you think about it, it’s astonishing how much of our work gets done on line these days. Well, it’s astonishing if you’re a person who remembers carbon copies (oh blessedly on the way out as I was becoming a secretary. What a delight the Selectric was! I could type as quickly backward as forward. I always made a lot of mistakes in my hurry to be done.) Early adopters’ lives changed quickly. But at this point, even the most reluctant embracers of technology are moving along far differently than they did.
I still print my sermons. I’m sure if at some point I get a Kindle or an ipad that will stop. Why waste the paper? Why have it building up around the house? Make a pdf and send it to one of your e-readers. Goodness knows I’m a much more efficient filer on line than I ever was in a file drawer. And thanks to the search function I think I’ve found every poem I’ve ever written except that wonderful piece about the Susquehanna at twilight. (sigh.)
I spend time these days, working in the realm of ideas and trying to decipher which ideas are best suited to which media. It’s interesting… and publishing doesn’t seem to have a very clear idea which way it’s going yet…
So, much is taken care of… except that water cooler thing. Cue the rise in number of coffee houses. Now they’re not just the new meeting room, they’re the new water cooler. Every Monday morning, I have a study date with a friend, now two. Mostly, we work on our own work. But we each know what the other is working on. Occasionally, we’ll stop and say… “so, am I on track here?” and read a short piece aloud or push our laptop across the table. No one else at the table does theology. Neither woman is churched. But they both, boy howdy, came equipped with ideas and opinions.
So there we are. We write. We nosh (gotta keep our meeting place in business). We talk about world events and what more appropriate responses should be. We offer advice. We just listen. We Google. We giggle. Occasionally our separate wonderings fuse into a solid workable idea that changes each woman’s work for the better. Even more occasionally we realize we can collaborate on something. Most importantly, we remember we are not alone as we strive to do good work.