Yes, Virginia, a room of one’s own does make a difference. One of the (many) things I love about the new Chez Moi (I am thisclose to calling it Castle SquirrelTerror, you have no idea) is the fact that right next to my bedroom is another bedroom, which is (ta-da!) my office.
I have never had a dedicated space to write. I’ve always written in cracks and corners, or in stolen spaces–the loo in the middle of the night while the current boyfriend sleeps, the living room so I can keep an eye on the kids, waiting rooms and restaurant tables where I have to scribble fast and catch the thoughts by their tails before they vanish or I’m called to pay attention to something else, so on, so forth. I can work under incredibly chaotic conditions, and have for most of my life.
Now I have to learn how to work like this.
Outside the window I can see trees–the cedars along the back fence, the gaunt pine who stands sentinel among their row like a sergeant, the oak–at least, I think he’s an oak–snugged against the back of the neighbor’s house as if supporting it, moss dripping from his branches. It’s like being in a treehouse, especially if I open the window. Last week I took a morning and unpacked my reference books and my favourites bookshelf; as a result I can see familiar faces when I glance up. (Of course I was looking for my forensic pathology textbooks, and of course they were in a box on the very BOTTOM, Murphy’s Law of Unpacking…) The printer has been wrangled into speaking to the wireless network, the Saddest Little Bonsai In All The World is sitting in front of the window and deciding whether or not to accept its new location without losing all its bloody leaves…
…and I am kind of terrified by all this peace and quiet.
I start violently at least a half-dozen times a day, because it’s too quiet and I have to know what the kids are doing. When they go back to school I anticipate at least two panicked moments a day trying to find their silly little selves. At least the dogs are right there the entire time; though shutting the office door when they start getting rowdy means I open it up ten minutes later to reproachful gazes and slumped shoulders, dejected low-hanging heads and stubbly, hopeful tail wags.
I think it’s the idea of having a door to shut that is the most amazing. I don’t want to turn into a writer who cannot function without a closed door–for one thing, if I’m forced to work in chaos again I’d really like to not be a Speshul Snoflake about it–but I do very much like having the option of closing the door if I so choose. Often, it’s the illusion of choice that allows one to bear almost anything, even the unbearable. It’s when one is helpless in the face of the unbearable that survival becomes much, much harder.
The peace and quiet and the door to close should I so choose is a good problem to have. I can barely believe I’m lucky enough to have it.