The subject of that famous 1928 essay by Virginia Woolf, establishing a room of one’s own for writing, has finally become a reality for me. In truth, I’d had a room of my own, but in this life, you know, things change.
Until recently I had my “study,” a room tucked away at one end of our home, which became my private working space. There I had three desks: a computer desk, a household desk for paying bills and making calls, and a lovely wide drafting table with lots of elbowroom to create my short stories, blog posts, and book reviews. With my husband away at his office all day, I could write and write to my heart’s content. All was bliss.
However, when my semi-retired husband, with my encouragement I should say, moved his office into our home, my precious private space suddenly, alarmingly, became a “shared” space, cluttered and cramped. My drafting table became George’s computer desk, with his bulky chair blocking access to files and storage closets, his printer constantly going off, and his needing to brush past me to retrieve copies. Gone was the beloved elbowroom I had taken for granted for so many years, as was my carefully planned schedule of quietly writing every morning. Sharing a tight space and being surrounded by a husband, a cat, and a puppy, laundry swooshing and spinning in the next room, phones buzzing and beeping, as well as countless other interruptions and demands on my attention, became untenable. Before long my husband and I were on each other’s nerves big-time. Drastic measures were needed.
Lo and behold, along came Carol Dannhauser and her latest creation for writers, the Fairfield County Story Lab. Half of one floor of an underutilized office building in Westport, CT, the Lab was designed by Carol to be a shared writing space, where all types of writers could come to do their thing. The Lab offers, among several other writing spaces, a Storyboard Room, a Community Room, a Café, and, best of all, a Quiet Room (REALLY quiet).
When I first visited the Lab, I saw it had everything I needed, and I signed up immediately. Furnished to be homey but not too homey, with wide desk space galore, the Lab offers the perfect writer’s retreat, the ideal writing space.
In the Quiet Room I have managed to find a little corner nook where, if I get there early enough in the day, nobody else is. My own little private space with a table, a chair, a couch, and utter peace. The only sound to be heard is the traffic on I-95 a hundred yards from my window, actually the ideal white noise. In this little nook, or anywhere else in the Lab, I can plop myself down at a writing desk or on a leather couch or chaise longue and write for as many hours as I choose each day, any day. No cats jumping up on the desk, no puppies needing to go out, no laundry noises, no phones ringing, no husband interrupting my concentration with “Can I ask you something?” Just complete freedom to write, to read, to write some more, to THINK, and to continue to write.
For writers who do not have a quiet space in their homes, I cannot stress enough the importance of having a designated area just for writing. The utter joy of it. To get some real work done, you have to find a private nook, even if it’s a corner in the local public library, to do your thing. And, while this post is not intended as a commercial for the Story Lab, it is a strong endorsement for that crucial element in a writer’s life – a room of one’s own.