Virginia Woolf first said it in 1928 while lecturing at the two (separate) women’s colleges at Cambridge:
“A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.”
I’ll not get into the discussion of Woolf’s essay as feminist text, but she had made a very practical, obvious point. Words do not always equal dollars – at least not at first, and not a one-to-one (yet) . Together with the ability to close the door on a distracting world, both seem to be sound advice for a life of writing.
Just over two years ago my husband and I combined our home offices. We wanted to redecorate a guest room and prepare a fourth stunted-bedroom (formerly his home office) for a new life as a master bathroom. Just as I started to sock away money for a writing life, I gave up the room of my own. I know, the irony.
A new development: his job now allows him to work from home. This is great, except for the room-shaking knee bouncing, the outbursts of mumbling , and his penchant for wanting to show or tell me cool things every 10 minutes. [He knows this is true and accurate, and not at all a personal attack or complaint. Just facts.] Not to mention the conference calls for work.
Since a claw foot bathtub and custom tiling have not miraculously appeared in the fourth bedroom, and the money tree hasn’t taken root out back, the master bathroom is more dream than plan. The husband picked out a new paint color and prepared to relocate to a new home office.
Our funny fourth bedroom is more ante-chamber to what may be a nursery or child’s sleeping porch; the back part of the room with a three-windowed view on our backyard is separated by a wall and doorway (sans door) from the front part that is entered from the upstairs hallway. All that natural light is actually pretty bad for editing digital photos, which my husband prefers to do in a darkened room without extra light polluting the view of his monitor.
But, it is a true writer’s den, a perfect creative nest. We realized that it made more sense for me to move my home office.
No more garbage trucks or other street traffic to distract me. A southerly and western exposure to light my work instead of a few weak light bulbs. Maybe a squirrel* or bird nest to keep me company.
When I had a room of my own, I didn’t write in it. Now that I am writing, I shall soon have the room – the right room, it now seems.
Virginia Woolf didn’t say anything about how you get the room of your own, but a little do-it-yourself work is in order—before I move in, there are walls to sand and paint!