Friday, February 17, 2006

DR: A Room of Her Own

Photo: Deb's Room

Men have always had studies—a den or office to which to retire at day’s end. A place to conduct the business of life, to read, write and reflect. A place to escape. Designer Chris Madden, in her book A Room of Her Own, explores the physical sanctuaries modern women have begun to create for themselves within their homes. But British author Virginia Woolf touted the need for “a room of one’s own”—especially for the novelist—as early as 1929 when she wrote these words in her book titled A Room of One’s Own: “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction…”

While I agree the combination would certainly be nice, I must respectfully disagree with Woolf’s suggestion that these are necessities. I’ve written a dozen novels with a conspicuous lack of money. And as for that “room of her own,” my first ten books were written in various rooms of our house that were certainly not my own. My first novel took shape at a desk in the tiny eat-in kitchen of our cramped duplex. That was in the days before I was connected to the Internet, so the research books stacked around the desk (which also served as the telephone station) and overflowing onto the kitchen table (which was also the “dining room” table) were far more copious than you’ll find on my desk today. Worse, everything had to be put away before supper could be served.

Before I began my second novel, I moved my writing space to a corner of our bedroom—because we now had four children running around the duplex. I could close the door on the noise when I was at my desk, and close the door on the mess when I wasn’t writing. What I couldn’t do was kick my husband out of bed when the muse struck at 3 a.m., but the click-click of keys and the harsh light of the computer screen kept him tossing, turning and grumbling, “someof us have to go to work in the morning.”

So for my next eight novels, I settled my desk in a corner of our living room. It was a lovely space and I found I enjoyed being in the hub of family life. When the second of our children left for college, freeing up a bedroom that could have been a real, live office, I opted instead to turn it into a TV room, effectively getting the kids and their friends out of my writing space and out of my hair on a regular basis. It worked so well, that I started saying emphatically in interviews that even if we moved to a mansion, I’d still choose to write in the corner of our humble living room.

It’s a good thing it is a woman’s prerogative to change her mind. We moved into our present home last summer. It’s not a mansion by a long stretch, but it did give me another chance at that “room of her own” and I grabbed it. How wonderful to have my very own space—a place to write any time of the day or night; and even though now much of my research material is neatly catalogued in a Word file or at my fingertips simply by clicking on a bookmark in my browser, it’s nice to have a place to scatter my things and leave them for months on end until I finally type “the end.”

I write solely on a laptop now, and for a change of scenery I still often carry my computer to the living room, the kitchen table, or in springtime, out on the deck. Time will tell whether a dedicated office improves the quality of my writing one iota. But oh, I do relish the privilege of having my very own writing studio. A room of my own.

What does your writing space look like? Have you found a creative way to carve out a place of your own in which to write?

Deborah Raney is the author of Over the Waters and A Vow to Cherish.


At 3:52 AM, Blogger Illuminating Fiction said...

Oh, the luxury of having a "room of my own."

Not a happening thing in our house. :-)

My "office" is a combination room - guest room with futon fold down double bed and single top bunk set; spare lounge with tv, dvd, and stereo; and yes, office, with filing cabinet, two photocopiers, and computer station with the desktop PC. Oh, and please don't forget play room when the kids are home. Toys often litter the room.

But during the day when the horde are at school, it's all mine. And I have to admit it is the best room in the house. Sun streams in the windows from morning to evening.

Of course, if I ever want a change of scenery, I just get out the laptop and head elsewhere. ;-) But who honestly wants to leave the sunniest room in the house?

At 3:55 AM, Blogger Mary DeMuth said...

Hi Deb,

Oh how I wish I had a room of my own. In France, I settle for a writer's nook. It's a little four foot by four foot niche in my bedroom. You can see a picture of it here:

I call it my writing turret!

At 5:06 AM, Blogger eileen said...

What a cozy spot you've settled give us more wonderful stories. I'm so blessed you're in my life. Enjoy your room: it can be just you and Jesus there, too.

At 6:40 AM, Blogger Carol Collett said...

I'm blessed to have a room I can call mine. Right now it's mess-books everywhere-stuffed animals-pillows-
But I know it's my space!

At 8:56 AM, Blogger Patricia Hickman said...

I wrote my first book at the foot of our bed. Three sweet children came to live with us that year. Along with our own three, we had no rooms left. I remember getting up at three in the morning and writing until dawn when all the kids got up. Its really a precious memory for me. God is faithful.

At 9:15 AM, Blogger Cara Putman said...

I've bounced around in the months I've been writing. I have an incredibly comfy leather recliner that I've written for weeks in with my laptop on my lap. Then when I had to work hard for three weeks to finish a WIP, I moved back to a desk in our office/treadmill room. Now most nights I sit there for two or three hours after the kids are in bed. My husband will sit at his desk and watch TV or jog on the treadmill. It's amazing what I can tune out when I reenter my novel's world!

At 9:56 AM, Blogger Deborah Raney said...

I have to agree with Patty. The memories of those books written in less-than-perfect "offices" is very sweet. I'm here to testify that there will be a day when you'll feel just a little sad that toys no longer litter the floor and there are no happy little voices to tune out. I'm a little choked up just thinking about it! :' {

Mary, your turret is charming! Every thing you need within arm's length. And I'm hearing some pretty good things about the books produced there!

Eileen, thank you for your constant encouragement. When it's just Jesus and me in my room, I thank Him for YOU! : )

Thanks, all of you, for sharing your comments. What a fun thing to wake up to this morning!

At 9:59 AM, Blogger Kristy Dykes said...

My office started out in my laundry room, which was huge, thankfully, back in the 80s when I started freelance writing. Then it moved to the guest bedroom. Over the years as we moved (my dh is a pastor; we've lived in parsonages and owned/built our own homes), my office was in various places, including one home (our own) which had a dream study complete with French doors and a fireplace. Last year, we bought and remodeled yet another home. The backyard backs up to a nature preserve, so there are lots of birds :), squirrels :), and raccoons :( (bad for the garbage). Milton insisted I have beautiful dark cherry office furniture in my new office with matching floor to ceiling bookshelves and lateral files. Throughout the day, I take stretch breaks and look out the back windows and get lots of inspiration. Living in Florida, I sometimes go outside and pick a luscious tangerine or pink grapefruit off my trio of citrus trees (for some reason, the orange tree doesn't bare). Maybe it needs fertilizer...

At 10:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Deb is so right! My office was the kitchen table for years. It was then, and still is, the hub of our family life. Back then I longed for a "real" office. But when the time came to move into one, it was a bittersweet event. Surrounded by Barbie dolls, food odors from the oven, and a toddler using the table legs to pull herself up, I thought I'd never get through that first manuscript. I did--and many more.

But some days I still miss that kitchen office--the Barbies, and all the rest. Not for long...but sometimes...

Thanks, Deb.


At 10:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I finally got that room of my own when our youngest son moved out. I've loved it! But I'll lose it temporarily in a couple of months. Our elder son will be moving back for a while, along with our two grandchildren.

But life moves on and so do the chapters--I'll set up in the bedroom once again and dream of a room of my own. :o)

At 12:53 PM, Blogger ~ Brandilyn Collins said...

Would you all knock it off? You incredible people put me totally to shame. I have two wonderful offices in two homes, one office particularly spacious and the other with a worldclass view. And I growl when my poor husband wants to enter my space. (Okay, not really, but I THINK it.) And I STILL have major, horrible trouble writing. I couldn't create with kids around to save my life. Noise? TV? Chatter? Are you OUT OF YOUR MINDS?!

Sheesh, thanks to you all, I now feel even worse about my shortcomings. Deb--last time I dedicate a book to you, girl.

At 1:00 PM, Blogger Cheryl said...

For now, I migrate. In the warm weather, I'm on the screened in deck at the back of the house. But I'm usually in one of the rockers by our living room window with a view out our backyard or, in the basement plopped in a recliner (like now).

But all that changes in the fall (hopefully) because we are building a new house which will have a dedicated office space and a library/den in place of a formal dining room. And I'll still have a screened in porch for nice days. :-)

At 4:41 PM, Blogger Patricia Hickman said...

Well, I have a nice office now, Brandilyn. Write with six kids in the house now? Fageddaboutit. LOL!

At 6:17 PM, Blogger ~ Brandilyn Collins said...

Bless your heart, Patty. I swear, if you told me you write your wonderful, lyrical prose with six kids still at your feet--I might as well shoot myself now.

At 2:37 AM, Blogger Camy Tang said...

Beautiful writing space, Deb!

I'm lucky to have my own office-cum-storage room. It's just right for me. I even splurged on an ergonomic writing chair this Christmas. What I'd really like is a new laptop, though. My old one fritzes every so often and scares the living daylights out of me. "Aaaaaack! Did I lose the last page? Did I remember to save? Unfreeze, you crusty old thing!"


At 10:06 PM, Blogger Rachel Hauck said...

A writer writes, right? Great reminder of making the muse work no matter where we plot our backsides.



Post a Comment

<< Home