by Michelle MacKinnon
Thursday midday, Elisabeth Eaves, award-winning journalist and New York Times notable author, edits a story about North Korea for the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists while her partner Joe Ray, 2009 Lowell Thomas Travel Journalist of the Year and contributing writer for Wired magazine, prepares for a trade show in Chicago. The final draft of author Tara Conklin’s second novel, The Last Romantics is shaping-up too in a hidden writer’s room where spoken words are few.
In 2017, Eaves and Ray opened Type Set–a 650-square minimalist co-workspace in Columbia City for serious writers. Members of the modest collective have all-day access to the quiet space with occasional opportunities to break from the mostly necessary isolation of writing.
The working couple created Type Set to satisfy their own need for a writerly sanctuary where they could cultivate a group of colleagues and allies to stimulate creative and professional success.
“Writers are always looking for good places to write,” says Ray.
Inside a discrete ground floor alcove set back from the street, Type Set is one of several townhomes that double as work space for the tenants. The buildings spill into a brick courtyard shared by Empire Coffee and a Pilates studio. A single double-wide window is the only view of eight matching white powder-coated steel desks bordering an interior wall. Each desk is fitted with a rolling cushion chair and the warm LED illumination of a balanced-arm lamp.
Two arm-chairs with heated slab floors beneath them sit against the opposite chalkboard wall and offer writers a brief repose. A six-foot wooden table in the center of the room adds warmth to the spartan décor and modern aesthetic in white, black, grey, and red.
“You get very obsessed with ergonomics,” says Ray, pointing to the two standing desks and rolling chairs he hails as “bulletproof.”
Members can lease full- or part-time access for one, three, or 12-months with rent ranging from $85 to $165 per month. “Compared to other co-working spaces, it’s very reasonable,” according to Conklin.
Membership includes a key to the office and secure locker space. Coffee, tea, microwave, fridge, and high-speed wireless internet use are all free. The application process includes a reference check, informal interview, and usage contract. Once accepted, members can add a picture and bio to the website. “We like everyone to be an asset to each other,” says Eaves.
While Type Set’s venue helps “foster a community among writers, to promote and celebrate what other people are doing,” says Eaves, “You’re here to work,” interjects Ray.
Away from household distractions, Conklin can focus at Type Set. “It can be a struggle to elevate it on your priority list, so having this space where you can go helps make it more serious to you and to partners, friends, and kids,” says Conklin, who’s first book, The House Girl, was a New York Times bestseller.
Members can participate in networking lunches and bi-monthly Salons that are open to all writers and adjacent industries. “You’re always trying to figure something out about your profession,” says Ray. Current Type Set members are a diverse group of writers at various stages of their careers, including playwrights, first-time novelists, journalists, and social media content managers.
Type Set has had brainstorming and social events to bring members together. “Let’s talk about your angst,” says Ray. Investigative journalism cooperative, Investigate West, and the Mineral School, an overnight artist residency project, are friends of the coterie. With a dozen members so far, Type Set seeks to continue to grow.
Find out more information on the Type Set website.