Hemingway & His Standing Desk
Pulitzer Prize Winner.
Nobel Prize Winner.
And life-long standing desk user.
That’s right, Ernest Miller Hemingway — who survived two airplane crashes, called Fidel Castro a drinking buddy, and penned several American classics — wrote standing up.
I thought so too when I came across that fact several years ago, on a visit to the Hemingway House, down in Key West.
Didn’t pay much attention to all of the man’s writing habits at the time (too fascinated by seven-toed cats and the model of Papa’s fishing boat Pilar), until I started coming across news reports touting the health benefits of standing while you work at your desk.
He was the only writer I knew who did that. In fact, I’d never actually seen any one write while standing at their desks. Not in college or in all my years in newsrooms.
Sitting at your desk, in a cubicle, is the norm for the modern-day office worker. And in my case, the modern-day home office worker.
That was until last month, when I was gifted the Rise Up Table Top. And just like when you fall in love with a particular car, gadget or vacation spot, you start seeing it everywhere.
You’re catching headlines like “Sitting For More Than 6 Hours a Day Shortens Your Life,” and reading articles about famous writers who stood while they worked, like Virginia Woolf, Vladimir Nabokov, and Lewis Carroll.
A whole new world is opening up. You’re part of the “Stand Up” tribe. And you find out, there’s an interesting history that goes with the standup desk, stretching back to the 1880s (see ad below).
You’re learning all this, while you’re actually using the standing desk. Then you think back to how you got one (cue the flashback mirage):
You’re sitting in your friend’s dining room, at his small dining table, in his cramped apartment filled with paintings, sculptures and books. You’re both sipping on a cold Chelada, both wearing red mustaches, and then he drops it on you.
“I invented a table that rises so you can stand up while you work at your desk.”
You remember only catching the first two words, so you stop him and say: “You invented something?”
He repeats that he has then goes into describing an adjustable tabletop that you can carry around with you, how he wants to make it affordable, and how he’s been working with a partner to come up with a final product.
You high five him, tell him how awesome it is that he invented something, and let him know he’ll sell a million of them once he works out the kinks.
But there’s a problem, he says.
“We don’t got a name for it… we need to come up with one.”
Why don’t you call it the ‘rise up,’ you say, since you rise up when you adjust it.
He loves it. Both of you raise your glasses. (Mirage effect!)
That happened nearly two years ago. Since then he’s seen his share of ups and downs. But then a few months ago, when you came over to visit, share some laughs over cold Cheladas, he brings out one of the Rise Up tables and hands it to you.
“Told you you were going to get one.”
After thanking him, you start thinking about using the table. Then it hits you: You’re going to be standing while you write, just like —
You turn to your friend and say:
“I’m calling my Hemingway.”