Monday, September 21, 2015

A Room of One's Own

My space (I need to get a picture of our dog Kane up there).
For the past six months we have had two bedrooms in our four-bedroom house that have been little more than storage areas (and we all know what happens to storage rooms). So, following my adventure at writing camp this summer and inspired by my friend Shelley who just set up her home office, I decided to Get Serious About Writing and convert one of those rooms to my very own space for writing and other forms of "work" and creativity.

The well-known expression, "a room of one's own" comes from Virginia Woolf's 1929 essay of that title in which she persuasively argues that without education and a physical space of her own a woman is doomed never to realize her talents.

Eighty-six years later, we have made huge gains for women, both in education and in recognition of the value of a woman's contribution to arts and culture. (Don't get me started on how much room there still is for improvement.) I am very grateful for the many women who fought hard at personal cost so that I can take these things for granted.

But this was not meant to be my feminist manifesto (I'll save that for another day).

This is about staking a claim and also obliging myself to use it. Because I am just guilt-ridden enough to feel that if I've blocked off all this space, I certainly can't have it go to waste.

So here is My Room.


This is the view from the hall. It's a sunny, happy space. The painting is by my daughter, Katie, and is inspired by Matisse. The bench is for the cat, of course. She wants me to build a platform for it so that she can peep out the window. The "nipple light" will soon be replaced by a ceiling fan because I am always either sweating or about to sweat.

The great thing about doing this later in life, after we've moved from a much larger house to this one is that all the furnishings for this room were crammed into our basement, just waiting for me to give them (us!) a home. Nothing in this picture was purchased for this room.

The ratty old ottoman is actually a storage chest. It holds a bunch of my tech stuff like backup drives, cables, and such.

The screen shows this exact blog post being written. How meta!

I don't usually sit upright at the desk (though I've removed the chair armrests so that I can, if I wish). Usually, I sit with my feet on the ottoman and the laptop resting on my lap and the edge of the desk, as shown in this glamourous shot. Ergonomists would probably see purple when looking at this picture, but my hips, elbows and shoulders seem to be happier with this than with a more upright posture, so . . . .

Even the printer was a seldom-used back-up from our family office downstairs. For now, the contents of the cupboard are not very organized, but they include materials for a few of my crafts (watercolour painting and beading).

Before setting up the room, I actually googled feng shui for some tips on where to place things. (I certainly didn't want all my good fortune to fall out the window!) I didn't go very far with it except to find out that my Kua number 4 and orienting my workspace to the north is supposed to bring me money and success. Directly south would have been better for health, but it's also right by the door to the room and would feel exposed. East would have been propitious for love and marriage but would have had me looking out the window, which doesn't appeal to me. Southeast, looking into the closet would have been good for spiritual growth.

As you can see, my decision really had very little to do with feng shui and a lot to do with where I felt like sitting. (Aren't you glad you read that entire preceding paragraph?)

But one tip I did follow was to place uplifting visuals in your workspace -- things that make you happy, which explains the family pictures on the wall. It also explains the little things dangling from the lampshade: those are ear rings for which I have lost the mate. I still like them, but had no home for them until now.

I also felt it was important to have a comfortable reading chair, hence the rocking chair beside the desk. (I use the office chair as a foot stool when I sit there.) You'll also see a small hanging-file holder on the night stand: our main filing is downstairs; this is my way-station for materials that aren't yet ready to be permanently filed.

So that is my room. Feel free to picture me here trying to be creative whenever you are bored.


  1. I would so love to have a space all my own!! The problem with not having a place where I can go, shut the door, and actually focus on writing, is that I tend to find other things that of course need to be done Right Now, when I am sitting elsewhere in the house. If I sit at the kitchen table, there's those dirty dishes, or I could make some muffins for when the kids get home. Downstairs by the fire -- look at that dirty carpet, I should vacuum! Ugh. The only place I can go right now and shut the door, is out master bedroom. And I am pretty sure my husband could find other stuff for me to do there! HA.

    1. Haha! When I first started writing (freelance), I had three kids under the age of six and my "office" was a table in the living room. I wrote with Mr. Dressup in the background and kids running cars over my feet. At one point, I noticed that I was writing Sesame Street lyrics in my article. Ooops!

      Having an actual office is definitely a luxury, but I'm not 100% certain that it stimulates my creativity. We shall see.


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