A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction–Virginia Woolf
As an only child, I always had my own room. There were many, many rooms during the years when my father was a golf course construction supervisor. Some were cramped and generic, others included an adjoining bathroom or even a private balcony. One, at a ski resort, was technically its own rental unit with a separate address from my parents. At nine I had the entire second floor of our condo, which included two bedrooms, a bathroom, and a loft, though I usually hung out in the storage nook halfway down the staircase, which I also claimed. At our house in Maine, half the basement was mine. Not such a prize, as I had orange shag carpeting, no door, and a quarter of my space was taken up by the woodstove, which meant my winter sleeping quarters were five degrees hotter than hell. My dad eventually finished the basement and built me a proper room because he’s awesome like that.
I read, wrote, and drew constantly as a kid.
When I started college, my parents literally lived on the other side of the world—Thailand. Everything I owned had to be hauled to Missouri and stuffed into a shared dorm room. (Apologies to my roommate, who never complained.)
All creativity vanished.
Eventually, I had my own apartment and wrote a rough draft of my first (literary vomit) novel in three months.
When I married, my “room” shrunk to a shared office. Two kids later I downsized to a cramped computer armoire tucked into the corner of a cluttered common room, the TV mere steps away. I responded to e-mail while the Little Einsteins theme song played in the background and took social media “breaks” when the hubby watched The Walking Dead. I wrote during those brief, precious hours when I had the house to myself, with frequent interruptions to let the dogs in, out, and back in again. Damn squirrels!
A single draft took years to accomplish. I feared I’d never have a successful writing career at that pace.
Other writers I knew, both female and male, have expressed similar frustrations when they lack a room of their own. What makes this room so essential for creativity? [Read more…]