Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A Room of One’s Own

A Room of One's Own

All I need is a room of my own...

Or a desk at the library. To my left a student sleeps, head resting on folded arms. To my right is the hot pink Mills & Boon bookstand, with its racy covers and titles. My iPod's in and techno blasts, drowning out gossiping teenagers. As the librarian rolls past with the book trolley, the sprung floor bends and complains and my chair tilts: a hundred years ago, our library was a dance hall.

Or a table at a bar, James Blake on vinyl bringing me to tears. As I sit in the shadows, the barmaid tells a story and people start to laugh; the owner makes calls in the next booth; a delivery man rolls in a trolley full of crates; and women stride past, their boots crashing assertively on the old wooden floor.

Or an anonymous food court where a pot of peppermint tea buys a seat for hours. The surrounds are so ugly I have no option but to concentrate on the task at hand. Lower back aching, chair digging into my legs, I write three thousand words in a sitting.

Or halfway up the stairs, the sounds of a houseful of children ebbing and flowing below me. I sit in the illuminated square below the skylight and a gentle breeze curls its way upwards, softly brushing past me as I type.

Or the kitchen table, kid asleep in another room, a sticky smear of jam at my elbow, crumbs at my feet, a pile of dishes in the sink and me steadfastly ignoring them all as I grab an hour to write.

It may not be what Virginia Woolf had in mind; it may not be much; but it is, for now, enough.


  1. I am not quite so adaptable and need a cafe with a certain ambiance, my kitchen table or an iPad in bed. I think of writing in postcard-sized snatches. My supervisor once reminded me "you can only write one word at a time". I love stories if people who wrote books by stopping off everyday to write while they had a cup of coffee. I am sharing this post with a peer writing group at La Trobe. We meet in Writer's Block, the cafe in the library there, a good name and a great place to work. Jean.

  2. Perhaps it's a versatility borne of necessity. I just edited (one handedly) for an hour and a half while my three year old slept in my lap - a mother's way to write a book! Thanks for sharing the piece with your group; I hope it is thought-provoking. Alison.


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