In 1929, Virginia Woolf published her famous essay, A Room of One’s Own, in which she argued that if a woman is to write, she must have money and a room of her own.
I’ve certainly been aware of money as a factor in being able to focus on creative work. In the years when my husband and I struggled financially, creative projects routinely got pushed to the backburner.
But I hadn’t really thought much about the other thing Woolf talked about, until the publicist for Page Street asked me about my writing space for an Instagram series she was working on.
To be honest, my attention is generally focused on the importance of special places for my fictional characters. In my novel, It Should Have Been You, my protagonist Clara holes up in the broom closet of an office for her high school newspaper. While the other staff writers prefer doing their work at home or at the local coffee shop, Clara far prefers the tiny office. Here she feels safe to work on her writing, away from the glare of ugly publicity and rumors that she was involved in her twin’s unsolved murder.
Similarly, in my forthcoming novel, Leisha’s Song, the protagonist is an aspiring classical singer. Her sanctuary is the music practice studio in the basement of the arts building at her boarding school.
As I looked around my home office, I realized how much I appreciate having this room of my own in which to write. I savor the pleasure of working in a space that holds so many of my favorite things—obviously, my trusty desktop, but also pictures of my beloved grandkids, favorite reference books, and even the year-round Christmas lights my husband put up over my desk area because I love the holidays so much. And when I shut the door, I find myself in my favorite place in which to fully immerse myself in the lives of my characters.
So yes, Virginia Woolf was right. Having a room of one’s own matters. And for mine, I feel so grateful.