A Nook of One’s Own

“A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” So said Virginia Woolf in 1928.

Ninety years later, this quote from A Room of One’s Own, Woolf’s extended essay from which it famously derives, is as relevant as ever-especially to me.

I write non-fiction and poetry. But does that preclude me from having a room of my own to make a writerly mess in?

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Woolf is a hero of mine: my English Springer is named after her and I believe The Waves to be one of the greatest accomplishments in novel writing history. My devotion is unmovable. . .unlike my furniture. Which resided in a very messy bedroom writing nook of one’s own.

One being me.

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One in a house of six, five: one husband, seventeen year-old twins (our older son recently decamped to Rhode Island), and the previously mentioned Woolf namesake. Writing anywhere other than a designated spot was at best inconvenient (the dining room) and at worst impossible (on the living room sofa).

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The nook I settled on is at the far end of our bedroom. Yes, it has a staircase to the main entry right behind it, and yes, it’s above the laundry room (ding!) but, the staircase is the fastest way to the tea kettle and the sound of laundry running gives this “one” a sense that all is right with the world.

Here is how my nook looked before:

(see previous post HERE)

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It’s amazing how unaware I was of the space. Given my design background, I should have been mortified. But, the eye sees what the eye wants and I decided to turn a blind eye in favor of being left alone. It was almost too much to ask that my space look nice. I mean, I’ve still got two sons at home, one of whom has yellow flower-patterned wallpaper on his bedroom walls that I PROMISED to remove. Three years ago.

The problem was, once I noticed my nook’s shabbiness, I couldn’t un-notice it. I stopped writing in favor of moving piles of paper and furniture around. I became counter-productive. The tipping point in favor of a nook makeover was that the son with the flowered wallpaper only uses his bedroom to sleep in and with the lights off. Also, my nook remodel expense was minor: we did the whole room for less than $1,000, including the floor. Also, I’m the mother and I’m in charge.

Coinciding with the finishing of the nook of my own,  I’ve had two ideas for novels-and I wrote them down.

Thank you Virginia Woolf. . . I love you.

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Organizing Strategies for the Manic

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It’s that time again.

You know it.

That special time of the year when you want to change everything: get a new job, a new haircut, move, and learn to speak decent french.

I don’t even speak indecent french. Although…there was that time I had some minor surgery on my leg and because I had three Valium, apparently spoke coherent, slightly indecent high school french to the surgeon.

After the surgery he said:

“Vous etes bizarre. Me aimer, je ai opere si bien sur votre jambe.”

Which I took for: “You’re stunning. I love operating on your leg.”

Luckily for all my doctors, my house tends to be where I put most of the manic energy. The desire to rearrange rooms and re-paint can lead to unfortunate hours spent on Pinterest when I should be reading Virginia Woolf’s diary for my graduate degree.

Which has lead to my current state of manic affairs: I am a neat freak and recently discovered that to get down and dirty with this writing thing I need a place to make a mess. I don’t like messes. They’re messy. They make me uneasy. They make me walk to the kitchen, eat chocolate chips from the baking jar, and with my mouth full vamp in the mirror as I pull my short blonde hair straight up in an attempt to look like Andy Warhol, but end up looking like David Bowie. You see my problem.

Also, my house is small. There are few options. My first one is a fantasy: Take over the lovely shed in the backyard. This is no problem for the delusional. My husband rolled his eyes at my suggestion, “Where would we put all the stuff?”

I then suggested a dumpster. Because, really- I need a lot of room to spread out. I’ve got notebooks, ten packs of index cards (fancy plot devices), and I need a big ass desk and lamp.

While I’m in there, might as well add a daybed, a rug, some roman shades on the two windows and maybe an electric kettle. If there is any room, an extra chair for a little french woman to come teach me the proper way to say: “No, I am not cooking dinner, this memoir will not write itself.”

Or, something like that.