Thursday, October 22, 2020

A Room of One’s Own

Virginia Woolf said that a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction. She said this in lectures at Cambridge University in the 1920s, talking not only about writing, but about feminism, and the ongoing struggle for women in the arts to be acknowledged, respected and allowed to succeed.

All important, all good. But it was always the “room of one’s own” part that resonated with me. Because I never really had one.

Okay, I’ve had rooms of my own a few times since growing up and leaving home. Usually the spare bedroom with a table or desk. Almost always a shared space. For years, when my children were young and growing and I was a college professor, the kitchen table was mine, all mine. Centre of the house. The hub, where Mom could be found prepping lessons and marking assignments in between making meals, folding laundry, arguing with the teenager about sketchy weekend plans, or offering advice on schoolyard politics. More recently, I spent almost 10 years at the dining room table, a.k.a. the home media bench, while working in sports communications. Me and the china and silverware.

And I still managed to write a couple of books that got published. But, but… 

A room of my own. A studio. An office. It was always a dream. And now, with kids moved out and a quieter pace of life, I have finally claimed a space just for me. For my writing, my books, my music, my rug hooking, my yarn stash. My stuff. My creativity. My solitude. 

Of course, you’ll still find me at the kitchen table with my computer, or in the living room by the fire with my yarn and needles, or in the family room watching the Leafs (one day soon, I hope) and playing my dulcimer. 

But to have my room of one’s own to retreat to…?  Yes, Virginia. There are things worth waiting for.

Here's a little tour...

A tiny glimpse of my embarrassingly large yarn stash. Please don't judge me.

Yes, I am a hooker.

The instrument is a mountain dulcimer, purchased over 30 years at the Halifax Folklore Centre, and well travelled. The books are part of a collection of traditional folksong that I've been amassing since I was 12 years old and my Grade 6 teacher gave me the school's copy of Edith Fowke's Folksongs of Canada. He knew I was onto something. (Thank you, Mr. Logan!)

Norton Anthology, Beowulf and Snorra Edda (that's Old Icelandic for, very roughly, Snorri's Stories - Snorra Sturluson's 13th century collection of stories and verse.) Also my mother's collection of Rosamunde Pilcher. Favourite re-reads, such as A Town Like Alice, Pride and Prejudice and Vera Brittain's A Testament of Youth. Current fiction and non-fiction from people I know (Terry Fallis, Brad Smith, Sara Jewell). And tons of music.

A workspace must include tea.