Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind. – Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own, 1929
As an architect and a writer, I have a tendency to take the title of Ms. Woolf’s essay somewhat too literally. If I don’t have a perfect space in which to write, I will always have an excuse to not be putting words on paper. No progress on revisions? Blame it on the chair. Stuck on an idea that won’t resolve into words? Not enough natural light. Or too much distracting sunshine.
I have been pursuing the dream of the perfect writing space since I started thinking of myself as a writer. And I have failed. Repeatedly. At times, I have come close, seen the outlines of utopia in an environment where focus, comfort, and solitude came together in perfect balance. Check out this space that my husband and I built in our first house:
Not pictured: The screaming baby in the next room.
In our second house, we had another idyllic office space, with doors that shut it away from the rest of the house. We also had a thriving design/build company that sucked the energy out of the room. The few hours a day I managed to escape into the quiet room were consumed by a pressured frenzy of deadlines, client meetings, and a succession of panic attacks. The office was large, but there was no room for writing in it.
I have moved away from the architectural profession in the past few years, and now the family desk is in the middle of the house in the midst of the din of everyday life. It is a great place for writing when no one else is home, which happens about once every 1,367 days.
But now I have a laptop. And I’ve come to realize that anywhere my laptop is, I can write.
I am free.
I write at a folding table in the bedroom during early morning typing frenzies, I curl up in our warm and cozy TV room, I take over the dining room table when the light is right, I set up camp at a coffee shop on Tuesday evenings. What is more important is to have space in my mind for writing.
And space in my schedule. If I don’t create time to write, I start to go crazy. And I don’t want to emulate Virginia Woolf that closely.
Where do you write?