It was Virginia Woolf who said: ‘a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction’.
Do you agree with Virginia Woolf? Money aside, do you think that writers need a dedicated area, free of distractions, in order to write well?
I shared a room with my sister until, aged eleven, I got my own room. I promptly asked for it to be painted purple. (Well, it was the seventies…) I wrote my first short stories there, and the poems I submitted to the school magazine.
As a student I shared a room for a year or so, then had my own room, but it was never a successful creative space. The flat was far too busy, and I had exams to worry about.
I remember a shed in the garden of a rented house in Oxford becoming somewhere I could retreat to and write. I learnt a lot about writing in that shed, as much from my failures as from any success.
‘Diary of a Parent Trainer’, my first published book, was written in the small study of the last house our family lived in. The room was too small to be a spare room, so it only contained a desk, filing cabinet and bookshelves. It was a dedicated writing space. I painted the walls a beautiful, warm yellow colour. It was a pleasure to write there.
In the house we’re in now, we don’t have a spare room. I’ve been writing in the kitchen and at a desk at the end of my bedroom. I’ve missed having a cosy, quiet little nook where I won’t be disturbed.
This brings me to my birthday next week (hurray!), and the present I’m getting. A friend, who is a carpenter, is going to help us patch up the little shed in our garden. Up until now it’s been a dumping ground for garden furniture, but we’re clearing it out. It’s going to get a new floor, and the roof and walls are going to be mended where the wind and rain are getting in, and the windows will be cleaned of dirt and spider’s webs. The little shed may even get a lick of paint, who knows? The best bit is that it’s going to be all mine, so I am going to have if not a room of my own, a shed of my own.
See the ‘before’ photos below, I hope to post the ‘after’ photos in my next blog or the one after if it takes longer than a month.
I’m working on a new writing project right now. Perhaps my new space will help me to finish it without distractions.
Watch this space…