Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A room of one's own.

{Virginia Woolf's writing room, a little out building in the tangled and lovely gardens of Monk's House. This summer cottage is in Sussex, and is well worth the visit if you ever are in England.}

As a few of you may know, one of my most ardent (material) desires is for a writing room. Not a desk. Not a home office. A writing room -- a room with space for bookshelves, a big wooden desk, a comfortable chair, art and other pretty things that inspire me, and a window, preferably with a pleasant view, to let in plenty of natural light and air. Maybe some houseplants for oxygen and good measure. And a globe! Definitely a free-standing globe. Mostly, I want a quiet and peaceful room that is designated specifically for writing. No homework, work-work, bill-paying, online shopping, or other administrative tasks allowed! Naturally, when I discovered this series on writer's rooms, via The Guardian, I was instantly compelled to click through the lot of them.

Particularly mind-boggling to me is how chaotic many of these rooms are. I know there are some stereotypes floating around about "artsy types," but I can't even imagine working in some of the sloppier rooms featured here. Even some that are clearly organized are still overwhelmingly cluttered. I just picture all that claustrophobic weight squashing any creative energy into bland jelly. Yikes!

{Just looking at Eric Hobsbawm's writing room makes me want to maniacally pitch my computer out the window.}

Stress and distraction are heavy in my nature. For me, writing requires a certain amount of focus and isolation. I can't just tune out the world and bang away at it. Have you seen Jane Austen's "writing space" before? I have no idea how she ever managed to get anything accomplished. It's amazing. Never. I could never, ever do it. I need to sort of...get in the zone. I need to escape.

{This just seems like cruel and unusual punishment.}

I personally find it very difficult to "escape" from the constant mental-reiteration of all the upcoming tasks I need to complete, and from the low but persistent hum of anxiety that generally plagues me. If I'm feeling anxious about upcoming due dates, I feel too guilty writing when I could be working ahead. If I'm sharing a living space with others (even my parents' house) where I feel I might soon be interrupted to have a conversation or to carry out a chore, I hesitate to even begin to write. The biggest and therefore most logistically frightening project I have undertaken as a writer is S'QUATCH, the novel I wrote this past year as my honors thesis. Honestly? It was a nightmare. Writing that thing involved a lot of intense thinking while doodling in lined notebooks at my parents' house, followed by a lot more intense thinking while mournfully downing gallons of coffee and watching my cursor blink at my apartment in State College. After almost a year of this, I finally banged out most of the 200+ pages of text in a near-psychotic daze of caffeine and sleep deprivation over the course of the final two weeks before the book was due. I have no idea how I managed to submit it in any sort of acceptable form, either than the fact that I spent a lot of time hanging around the least populated and most silent computer labs on campus between the hours of 12am and 6am.

I have plenty of peace, quiet, and space now. Things are much better on the writing front. Still, it would be nice to write in a space not populated by stacks of education textbooks, bills, binders and fileboxes of handouts, and calendars filled with my schedules for work and school. I'd much rather be writing in a place like this...  Hey, a girl can dream.

{I love the light, the high ceiling, and especially the beautiful exposed beams in Kevin Crossley-Holland's writing room.}

No comments:

Post a Comment