A Room to Write, Create and Just Be Weird…Coming Soon

I am plagued by this rather persistent fantasy…oh, I know it’s a mundane, sadly stereotypical fantasy among writerly types, but it still feels wondrous and magical to me.  Every time I think of it, my toes tingle and my creative heart flutters.

I am wanting a writing room.

Not a home office.  Not a library.  Not a “room of her own” which mainly functions as a safe space to shut the door when other people are clamoring for my attention.  No, I am wanting a creativity studio designed for storytelling.  A safe, nurturing place just for me.  In my mind’s eye, I see a room filled with chalkboards, bulletin boards, bookshelves, comfortable chairs, non-invasive lighting, plenty of power outlets and lots and LOTS of little drawers.  Maybe some funky typographic decor.

I’m talking about a working studio, not a picture-perfect, utterly clean HGTV creation covered in fabric and bows.  No. no, no.  I’m a messy girl.  I tell messy stories.  My creativity studio needs to breathe.  Power cords, Post-it notes, chalk dust, the fabulous elliptical machine (physical activity sparks my creativity), copious amounts of cat hair, mountains of mismatched books and ink/paint spatter are all part of my decorating scheme.  For me, it’s about function over form.  Still, it would be nice if the room was colorful and attractive.

There’s a whole magazine dedicated to this sort of fantasy called Where Women Create.  Yes, I’ve been know plunk down my $15.00 just so I could sit and drool over the “Inspiring work spaces of extraordinary women.”

Now here’s the sad/hopeful part. There is absolutely no reason why this fantasy room cannot become a reality in the very near future.  I have an unused spare bedroom.  Why don’t I have a writing room?

When I first rented my current home (a cute little cottage near Lake Lanier) in September of last year, it felt like a dream come true.  This home marks the first time in the history of me where I have had a space other than my bedroom or the living room to create my fantasy writing space.  I moved in over 9 months ago.  Why is that room still a horrid little dumping ground?

Right now, the room’s inventory includes:  one skinny bookshelf filled to overflowing, the fabulous elliptical machine (non-negotiable), a desk, a matching-but-uncomfortable chair and a lamp…oh, and five huge plastic bins chock full of more books, writing files and art supplies.  Unfortunately, there is not enough storage space to hide these ugly plastic bins and I need to have easy access to the materials inside.

I’m addicted to those design shows where the designer is given a very small budget to work magic in a single room.  My room probably wouldn’t even require $500 to transform into my dream studio space.  If only I would just “get ‘er done” and “make it work.” (Ha…I just referenced the catch phrases for the Cable Guy and Tim Gunn in one single sentence.)

Last week I decided to make it a top priority to whip that room into shape.  One week later, it’s not going so well.  The room is slightly less cluttered, but hardly a functional space.  I think it’s time to shame myself.

Here’s the BEFORE pics:

Walking into the room (the view from the doorway)...

...and the view from the elliptical (not exactly inspiring).

And here’s the SHAPE UP or SHUT UP CHALLENGE:

I am going to post AFTER pictures of this room within 30 days (so on or before August 12).  Even if the after pics look pretty much the same as these pics, I’m going to force myself to post.  If I can’t transform this room into a decent writing/creativity studio (not a designer showcase, mind you),  then I need to admit to myself that my will to achieve this particular little fantasy is simply not sufficient to make it happen.  End of story.  In which case, I’ll just keep writing at the kitchen table and move on.

Don’t get me wrong.  This isn’t an excuse for procrastination.  And I don’t think this writing room will make me more creative or more productive or anything like that.  I’m not waiting until I have this space to start writing.  (Currently, I’m about 1/3 of the way through my second novel and still going strong.)  No, this is just an itch I really need to scratch.

Any helpful suggestions to transform this room into a writer’s studio would be greatly appreciated, but keep in mind I’m a renter who cannot paint or permanently alter the cottage in any way.

By the way, in a separate but related topic, I recently read this post by River Jordan and experienced much envy.  Her “real life” as a published author is pretty much my fantasy life.  She has an editor.  She has an agent.  She has a marketing person.  She has a radio program. She’s published 5 books.  Feh!  Who needs room service in Cairo?

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7 thoughts on “A Room to Write, Create and Just Be Weird…Coming Soon

  1. Humorous and how apropos. Yes, we always hear of the artist’s and creator’s space. How important and sacred. I can think of Grandma Moses’ studio ( as described to me by one of her associates ), and growing up neighborhood / abstract painter’s basement, and one of my professor’s offices: a claptrap of every fossil and rock of interest he’d come across in years, and Charles Darwin’s tiny writing corner on board the HMS Beagle.

    There is a great, in my opinion, modern woman author, of women – oriented writing, whom I read enthusiastically: Sarah Ban Breathnach ( Simple Abundance ). She suggests that you make your home one of your hobbies and she quotes English novelist Arnold Bennett: “A space which is not a fair expression of us at our best, a home which lacks what it might have, a space which is in any part more ugly or in any part more uncomfortable than it absolutely need be . . . a home which cannot be run without waste, a space which by any detail gets on the nerves of its inhabitants and so impairs the harmony of their existence—something aught to be done about such space . . . why not make the perfecting of the home a hobby?”

    Some creators can create regardless of space and surround. Think of Van Gogh in a tiny room or bar. It sounds like for Slay the Writer, that she is like me, and the Feng Shui must flow and not be discordant….I think I myself will move to a home in the hills with a view to the north Georgia mountains. The clear light of day might help me.

  2. Great post and I will anxiously await the “after” photos. My husband and I bought a house in Alaska on a couple of acres of land when we were first married. It was in the middle of a birch grove and twenty feet from our back deck was a small lake, and beyond that, a mountain view. There was a separated garage with a one-bedroom apartment above it. That apartment was to be my writing place.

    I never had the time/money/energy to convert it.

    And how stupid that was. Of course I could have done it if I wanted it badly enough.

    I wasn’t writing then, though. Not anything that I let anyone see, anyway. When I started writing with a serious bent toward pursuing publication, I wrote at a small desk in our living room with my husband sitting right behind me watching TV and my small children putting around noisily. By then we’d rented the garage apartment out and that was OK because I discovered I could write through anything just as I’ve always been able to read through anything.

    Now I live in a double-wide mobile home with my old mother. I sit in the living room to keep her company. I plug in my earphones so I don’t hear the news that she has on all day (Because I’ve found that I can’t write through anything. I can’t write through constant stories about abused and murdered children. UGH. I hate listening to the news–it is all so sad and depressing.) and I write.

    But someday I’d like to have a writer’s cabin.

    Here’s where Tahereh Maffi’s space
    And here are some writing huts.
    And then there is Laurie Halls Anderson’s cottage.

    So I’m looking forward to what you do with your room. I’d love to be setting up a room. I’d haunt the second-hand stores. Your idea of having lots of bulletin boards and chalkboards sounds perfect to me.

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