The other day on the Do Some Damage blog Steve Weddle posted about Virginia Woolf's quote about a woman having money and a room of her own in order to write fiction. He spoke about not having a room and how he created a room in his head in order to write. Of course I wanted to tell him how stupid he was, that men can write anywhere without interruption by family members who are in constant need of something. But I stopped myself because in my heart I knew it wasn't true.
It is my truth, but many other writers, both men and women, have the same problem, spouses or partners who can't stand to see them writing. You see when a writer gets lost in their story they tend to wrap themselves into a whole new world and many people just can’t stand the idea of being ignored while the writer slips away into that world.
I believe for most men they’re given the space they need to write, whereas a woman is expected to put other people’s needs above their own. Now, this could just be a generational thing. I see my sons giving their wives room to do the things they want without making them feel guilty. But my husband is a different story. And I live in his world.
It's easy for some people to say get up early or stay up late to write. I tried that. The later I stayed up the later my husband stayed up, if I got up early he suddenly couldn't sleep late. A room of my own? Yep, tried that. Every time I went upstairs to work I found myself running up and down stairs. I have an office downstairs now, but with no door it's definitely not private.
How do I cope? I steal little pieces of time between cooking three meals a day, and baking, and cleaning the house, and taking care of whatever my husband decides he needs at any given moment of the day. Sometimes it's an hour long block of time, other times fifteen minutes. It's not easy, but I still get to write,
And it's not just about having the space and time. For many writers it's those cutting words about wasting time on the computer or what's the point if you're not getting paid. And so you quit for a while, let the partner feel like they've won and then slowly you go back to putting words down, on paper, in your head, and finally at the keyboard.
It isn't just rejection that beats a writer down, it's those loud nagging voices of family that can finally wear you down and make you toss your dreams into a box and close the lid. It makes the idea of "money and a room of one's own" a most pleasurable place to dream about.