Virginia Wolfe wrote, ““A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.”
― Virginia Woolf,
I am in the process of converting a small room upstairs into my office.
When we bought the house, the description counted this particular room as a bedroom. Supposedly our home is a 5-bedroom house. No way! A crib might fit in it, but there’s not room even for a twin bed and dresser. It might make a nice office, though. We shall see.
Currently, my “writing room” is on the main level in what was identified as a family room when we bought the house. Dennis and I use it as an office-library. Against the south wall, the computer and printer sit. Dennis’ big roll top desk is against the north wall. The fireplace and built-in bookshelves on to the west and another book case is to the east.
In the room hangs a plaque on the wall above the space where the computer sits. The nurses on the maternal-child unit at University gave it to me after I was awarded the NCC Neonatal Nurse of the Year Award. The award itself, a beautiful crystal that sits atop a gray marble base, is hidden away upstairs somewhere. The calligraphy reads:
That Woman is a Success–
Who loves life and lives it to the fullest;
Who has discovered and shared her strengths and talents that are uniquely her own;
Who puts her best into each task and leaves each situation better than she found it’
Who seeks and finds that which is beautiful in all people and all things;
Whose heart is full of love and warmth with compassion;
Who has found joy in living and peace within herself. Barbara Burrows
As I sit down to write at the computer, the plaque is a reminder of what my colleagues thought at the time and it inspires me to seek meaning in what I do.
To my left as I sit, is the mantel and fireplace with bookshelves on either side of the hearth.A myriad of books stack the shelves–non-fiction, fiction, inspirational books, children’s books, large tomes, small paperbacks and the Bible. Each of the eight shelves, four per side, holds at least 25-30 books, well over 200 books total.
Against the wall on my right is a tall 5-shelf book case. The bottom two
shelves hold more books, primarily books on writing, a couple of dictionaries, some writing materials and papers and a big book with the title of “Just Do It!” The top three shelves display family pictures, my grandmother Grady’s old marble mantel clock, and an antique anniversary clock on the shelf above. A Madonna and child statue sits next to the anniversary clock and an old German barometer is on the shelf above. The barometer is a red and white chalet with the little man in Lederhosen and the little lady in a plain blue dress. The chalet is adorned with flowers below the little window. Today the little people are both inside the chalet with their backs to me.
I have many things surrounding me that offer inspiration, but also distraction at times. My digital speakers for my I-pod sits next to my computer screen, allowing me to plug in the device and listen to music, preferably Golden Oldies for writing and Irish tunes for cleaning. A 1-½ inch wooden rectangular token with the image of San Juan on the front sits next to the speakers. On the back, it tells of San Juan (St. John) the apostle who is the Patron Saint of Writers, Editors, Publisher and Printers. A souvenir of my trip to Colorado Springs with my friend, Deb, it remind s me that writers can shape the world and inspire others to seek the truth.
As I ponder on my surroundings, I realize that this is my own secret space, my writing space, my thinking space, my prayerful space. It is the space that connects me to the world as well as keeps the world out. I can communicate with my friends via email or Face Book or I can focus on my stories, shutting everyone else out.
Time stands still here. I can sit down to write and time becomes irrelevant. Then suddenly, I realize that 4 hours have passed in an instant. It is 12:00 in the kitchen, but it is still early morning in my space. I want to stay in my space but I must go to the kitchen because the world beckons.
My space is a little cluttered and sometimes the world invades my space such as in March when Dennis chooses to use my space to do the taxes. If I would change anything about my space, I would remove all the non-writing parasites that creep in and start to take over—the amoebic bank statements, the overgrowth of committee work, the pestilent to-do lists. What my space really needs is the Orkin personal secretary and DeCon killer organizer to take care of the pests that get in the way of my writing.
Maybe the little room upstairs will provide that bastion for “the writer only.” Stay tuned. I will let you know how the room conversion goes.