I write in a small room, its dimensions that of a one-car American garage of long-gone days. My “room of one’s own,” as Virginia Woolf would call it, abuts the tiny kitchen in my house, so that if I’m cooking while writing, I can jump up when I smell the beans burning or the timer screams at me that it’s time to take the bread out of the oven.
This room, for me, becomes a sanctuary when I close the single French door draped with a flowered curtain. (I wish I could rent a room in a retreat house for writing, without distractions, but I’m content with what I do have now.)
What do I see in this room?
The deep scratches on my desk, and the dried blobs of scaly blue paint, attest that my white-oak desk once knew another home, another place, where someone treated it not as a sacred object, but as a thing. Above the desk, on a stucco wall of the old-fashioned drywall style popular in the 1950s, I’ve hung a riot of different frames, filled with prints and posters. A few mirrors, and a fake Carnival mask in the Italianate style, hang around the periphery. I like to think they add a diversion for the eye. And books, of course. Four tall bookcases hold dozens of the books I could not bear to part with when I moved into this small house, one-third the size of my last house. Atop the shelves I’ve carefully placed a baker’s dozen of 3-dimensional objets d’art, memories made concrete. Conquistador stirrups and vintage wooden saints, from my father’s first trip to South America. A papier–mâché Day of the Dead skull given to me by a friend whose dissertation dealt with Mexican women and their kitchens. Two feathered Aztec warriors that nearly came undone in customs when the agents wanted to cut them open to see if I smuggled some drugs inside their cottony bodies! And a Josef Original vintage figure reminds me of my grandmother, who died when I was eleven.
Surrounded by these relics of my past, I create word pictures that might live on into the future, thanks to the digital world. “A room of one’s own” is a vital tool for any writer. Or, if not a room, then a place, a space where writing happens.
Please contact me with any ideas, comments, or other statements that you might concerning a writing space, your space right now or one you dream of.