Saturday, January 26, 2008

A Room of My Own

I need a room of my own. Virginia Woolf unearthed this nugget of truth years before and I'm finally conceding the brilliance of this simple notion.

I read "A Room of One's Own" when I was far too young to appreciate the importance of this piece of advice. I appreciated the beauty of the prose and the clarity of her ideas but I didn't truly understand the meaning. It's the same way you can't fully appreciate the joy of sleeping in on a weekend morning unless you have young children and can no longer abandon yourself to the pursuit of guiltless leisure. I read those words from a great distance for I was still a child with the whole world at my feet. What care did I have for a room of my own, I already had that, I was seeking the stimulus of the outside world.

Since I firmly set my course on becoming a writer, I've resisted the idea of creating my own space. When my ex-husband and I moved from our tiny East Village apartment to a three-bedroom co-op in Brooklyn, I entertained the idea of creating a real office for myself. I was pregnant with my son at the time and thought my daughter and the baby could share a room and I could have a room with a door. But the master bedroom was the only large bedroom, the other two were quite tiny, eventually I would have been forced to relinquish the room when the kids were too big to share. So I opted to set up an office in the alcove off the living room which felt much like setting up a work space in Grand Central Station.

Then we moved to a smaller apartment which did have three bedrooms. It was a temporary place we rented before moving out of the city. I turned the third room into an office but the room was small and uncomfortable ( too hot in the summer and freezing in the winter). I also moved from a desk-top computer to a lap-top and felt free to roam about the house to write. What need did I have for a stuffy office? I could write whenever the muse struck. I squeezed in the writing when I could. When we moved to a real house, then I'd get some real writing accomplished.

So we moved into a four bedroom house with two adults and three children (number four made his appearance two years ago). The two girls would share a bedroom and so would the boys. I didn't want to put an office upstairs in our bedroom not liking to confuse my sleeping space with my working space. This left the fourth bedroom. Once again the opportunity was presented but I backed away. This would be our tv/guest bedroom, the place where the kids could hang out, play video games, watch movies and use the computer. I set up my office in the dining room. I loved the view and believed it would be better to be in a central location where I could keep an eye on a busy household. Big mistake! This was Grand Central Station all over again.

By not allowing myself a private space in which to create, my writing is not taken as a serious pursuit by anyone, not even me. I attempt to squeeze it in around the needs of a household which seems to need me incessantly. Yesterday I escaped to Borders just to have time where I was left alone. Even as I am writing this my husband is cutting my son's hair while his best friend looks on, my daughter wants me to test her in Spanish, and my toddler is tossing shoes.

In the name of creativity and sanity, I need a room of my own. Not want, but need. I need to have a door that can close with the understanding that when that door is shut, only an emergency requiring fire-fighters, ambulance or police warrants the opening of the door.

I have decided to claim the tv/guest room for my own. Like the early explorers, I have planted my flag and claimed it for my own. In this case I don't need to enslave the natives, only displace them to other parts of the empire. I am filled with excitement over the birth of my creative oasis. Like all births, the labor will be tough and there will be a rough period of adjustment but it's well worth it.

Do you have a room of your own or sacred space just for you? How have you been able to maintain the integrity of your sanctuary?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree with you 100%. I think I definitely need to join a support group or practice meditation. These multi-tasking "skills" are now so much a part of who I am that I think that if I stopped I wouldn't know what to do with myself.