True confession time. When Jenna Bayley-Burke asked me to write about my writer’s space, I almost said no. For one reason, posting photos of my house would reveal exactly how unglamorous this writer’s life is. (Another confession: living on the affordable street in a neighborhood of McMansions tends me to bring out my insecure side. Still another confession: everything brings out my insecure side.)
But there was another, bigger reason I hesitated. One a wee bit more complicated. See, if I talk about my writer’s space, then I’ll have to own up to something I’ve been hiding from my family for four years. The office I created out of our small spare bedroom? The one I insisted I had to have because I “needed a room of my own”? It’s my least favorite place to write.
From all accounts, I should love my office. It’s painted a lovely shade of aqua. It’s got a cozy chaise lounge, and a large screen monitor with a Jensen Ackles screensaver. A half-nekkid Jensen Ackles to boot.
And yet, the only time I can write in there is when I’m pulling an all-nighter and don’t want to wake up my family.
One reason is the fact the room has Internet access. I have an Internet problem; I like being on it too much. (Yep, another confession.) To hear my muse, I need to put as much distance between my brain an the World Wide Web as possible.
The other, bigger, reason is that although this room was designed to be a room of my own….it’s anything but. Instead, it bears the fingerprints of many cooks.
Originally, when I ditched the guest room in favor of my office, I had this great plan. The fact we were losing a bedroom didn’t worry me. Our guests – namely my widowed mother – could sleep in our master bedroom while my husband and I slept elsewhere. Enter the first wrinkle. My mother refused. She has, for nearly five years, insisted – and I say insisted, I mean to the point of near tantrum and tears on her part – on sleeping on a roll-away bed in my office. This set up means I had to forgo the bookshelves and coffee maker I wanted to install in the small space. It also means that for about a week prior to my mother’s visits and a week after, I get to battle feeling bad I dumped the original bedroom set up in the first place.
Finally, there’s the storage issue. My office is the dumping ground for every item waiting to be run to the attic, for the Christmas presents waiting to be placed under the tree, the clothes waiting to be donated and anything else that has yet to find a home. In other words, when not playing host to my mother, it acts as the dumping ground. I can’t remember when I’ve sat at my desk and not felt cramped by the paper, boxes and what-not littering the space.Mainly, though, it’s the Internet Access.
And so my writer’s space isn’t my writer’s space, although in my stubborn way, I haven’t told my family. Because telling them would be admitting my “room of my own” announcement wasn’t all that necessary. Bad enough they spy me camped out on the living room sofa writing on my Alphasmart every day. Or worse, packing up my notebook so I can drive to a nearby industrial park. What does it say when your muse speaks louder in your Hyundai Sonata than in your spa-colored chambers?
I guess the point in all of this rambling is that while we all still might need a room of our own, we don’t need an office. We simply need a muse, a pen, and some peace and quiet.
To learn more about Barbara Wallace and her books, visit her website http://www.barbarawallace.com/.