Last week, my friend Jenny wrote about the importance of writing spaces — how objects from her past held her back, and how a thorough clean and “upgrade” of her space brought her face to face with a slight fear of success. (My interpretation; you can draw your own conclusions by reading the post here.)
I read A Room of One’s Own when I was in college, and I don’t remember whether Virginia Woolf’s thesis of women having less success as writers because they had less private space resonated with me then, but it definitely resonates with me now. It resonates with me so much that I used it when I was applying to live in the artists’ coop where I live–insisting that I needed a room of my own (I was renting a room from a rather rambunctious family at the time) to properly do my art.
Now that I’m “stranded” at my parents’ place longer than expected due to the accident, I’m finding it nearly impossible to write. In fact, I always find it nearly impossible to write when I’m here, but usually I just let it slide because I’m not usually here this long. It’s hard for me to believe that my life as a writer actually started here. But maybe that’s because back when I lived here, I did have my own space. Now, my options are my laptop on the dining room table, or the rather slow and virus-y desktop in my parents’ bedroom. Both places are fine for the short blurbs I write for work and for these blog posts. But they’re daunting places to sink into writing something as serious as fiction.
Still, I know I have to get past this roadblock, because I’m trying to write a short story and I’m on a deadline. But here’s the guilty truth: even though the list I posted last Friday looked so shiny, writing the start to my short story was like pulling teeth; I wrote just over 500 words in an hour (not a rate I’m impressed with), and I haven’t returned to it yet, despite firm resolve every night to pick it up again “in the morning.”
So while writing spaces are important — and while, by golly, we certainly deserve them! — we can’t let them become just one more excuse not to write. Because the truth is, Jane Austen wrote novels in her family’s sitting room. I wrote my first novel in my parents’ bedroom, where I’m writing this now. I’ve moved my desk around several times in my current apartment, and I’ve written novels on it in every place. I wrote novels huddled under my room-mate’s bunk in college; I even rewrote one novel and started another while rooming with the rambunctious family. I can certainly manage a short story at the dining room table.