Thursday, March 27, 2008

A Room of My Own

This is a writing prompt I wrote about an essay in Literary Mama. -Loida

Virginia Wolf’s famous quote is. “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” I thought of this quote when I read Terri G. Scullen’s essay, “Green Means Go.”
I believe Virginia Wolf whole-heartedly and since I already have the money part (I work full-time) I figured the room part wouldn’t be too hard, especially now that my kids aren’t babies anymore.

I set up an old wooden desk in my upstairs guest room and told my husband that once a week I was going to retreat into my room to write. My husband built a wooden bookcase all across the back wall on each side of the single window. The shelves are filled with many of my favorite authors. Hemingway, Amy Tan, Baldwin, Cisneros and many others. I surrounded myself with three beautiful framed pictures a friend gave me. They each have a Maya Angelou quote. I also have a print of the Three Graces by Peter Paul Rubens to inspire me. I pictured myself sitting in this room writing a great novel. It didn’t quite work out that way.

First there were the children. No matter how much we told them it was my writing time, they chose to ignore it and they insisted on coming upstairs, breaking my concentration.
From the moment that I went upstairs I could hear their little voices asking where I was. When my husband told them I was busy the little one would start to cry. It’s hard to reason with a five and two year old, the ages they were at the time.

Next I tried to get away once a week to write, but that was short lived. By the time I drove out somewhere, or dropped the kids off and picked them up, I felt like the process took too long. I might as well stay at home and write, I reasoned. I would actually get more writing time on a good day when the children kept busy.

Finally I gave up and I started writing in my kitchen. Far away enough from the television in the living room, but close enough when needed. Somehow the children took me for granted when they could see me.

The kitchen is medium sized, not a small kitchen of newer houses. Our house was built in 1940, when the kitchens weren’t open community areas like they are now. It’s its own room with its own doorway, but we don’t have a door up. The doorway is open, but somehow due to the position of the kitchen some sounds are muffled. I could hear the sounds coming from the living room but I tuned them out.

This is how I finally finished writing my novel. I clicked away on my laptop, while listening to the sounds of the children and my husband in the background. Sometimes my little one would wander in and would climb on my lap or would stand on my chair behind me and would pat me on my shoulders. But when I was in the zone it didn’t matter. I kept right on writing.

In my dreams my room upstairs is a perfect oasis. It’s decorated with prints from all of my favorite artists and quotes by writers. Patchouli candles are burning and the lighting is just right. I lock myself in for one hour every night with my laptop to weave my words. No one comes in to bother me and I have a whole glorious hour to myself. This would be my perfect writing environment.

The truth is, now that my laptop died, I write at my desk top computer almost every night for one hour, in the middle of the house. I write almost every day. Because when you have that fire burning in your belly you can’t help but write.

I read about a new author in Book Magazine who wrote her first novel while rocking her newborn baby in a baby swing. I write many times with my four year old sitting next to me, asking me to read to him. I stop in between typing and I read to him. Then I start writing again. It can be done. We can do it.

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