Pam Webb

a writer's journey as a reader

A Room Of My Own or a Writer In Woolf’s Clothing


While I’m not particularly a fan of Virginia Woolf, I do appreciate her unspoken contributions to women and writing. She once penned an essay discussing the need to have a room to create in, the desire to close out the responsibilities of mother and wife in order to be alone with self and creating. Rather a revolutionary idea in her time.
Though not so confined to the stove of domesticity these days, as a woman and a wife, mother, teacher, library trustee, GiGi–assorted other hat wearer, I too crave a room of my own. Carving out a space for personal creative endeavors has had its own set of challenges involving space and guilt.
We’ve tended on the small side of houses and squeezing out an area for a desk meant getting creative to find a creative corner. A door placed on top of filing cabinets worked for a time, but definitely cramped the bedroom and so we moved it out to the living room.  Still squishy. Ugly to boot.

When I switched to laptops, I got rid of the desk arrangement and I splurged, buying a loveseat the color of eggplant. I eked out a coveted thinking space in the bedroom, approximating nanoseconds of creative corner. The kids loved the idea that my office was purple.
Now, as an empty nester, I’ve commandeered one of the back bedrooms, I forget which progeny actually had it since they switched around so much. None of them can complain I’ve stolen their room. They know my standard reply anyway, “Your room? It was on loan for eighteen years.” My desk is an Ikea chair complimented by matching footstool to accommodate my two laptops (I still like my antiquated Dell, as I am trying to get used to my touch screen Lenovo). I have a rocking chair for when the MEPA wants to pop in and chat and a futon for the occasional overnight guest. This is where the guilt comes in: it feels a bit me-centric to devote one entire room towards my endeavors.

I know, I know–lots of people, lots of women have sewing rooms, craft corners, workshops, man caves and suffer not a twinge of remorse. I, on the other hand, do feel a bit bad about eradicating all traces of the progeny’s room. No beds, posters, old clothes, trophies remain; they truly are a guest when they visit.

Then again, I nudge away those nipping little guilts and conclude I should have no dilemmas about acquiring a room of my own. And this is where I have my moment of truth. Possessing a room of my own means I should make use of it, shouldn’t I? Then why am I writing this in the living room?

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7 thoughts on “A Room Of My Own or a Writer In Woolf’s Clothing

  1. I support your self-affirmation of your writing pursuits! I hope your room becomes a haven for your creativity. –But if it doesn’t, don’t force yourself; whatever works for you is what you should do!

  2. Ah, the guilt of the empty nester. We moved to a new home when our son started his sophomore year of college. Feeling badly that the ‘home’ he’d known all of his life was gone, I recreated one of the guest rooms into what his room had looked like down to the wall paper and all of his furniture. That room was so unused – I think he slept in it half a dozen times during the rest of his college years. But still, I never redesigned it into a room of my (writing) own. I should have! 🙂

  3. I’m actually in the middle of reading A Room of One’s Own. Although, I think I might have to agree with you that sometimes it’s nice to slip out of those spaces of temporary isolation. I understand how silence and creativity might go hand-in-hand for a while, but sometimes I write in the living room, too, just to be around the noises of other people lol

  4. You could argue that you do make use of it, by creating a room of your own, you give yourself a choice as to whether you work there and choice is freedom, freedom to write and break your own space to create rules. Essentially you are a maverick and I respect that.

  5. This is the most valid statement of the whole post: “They know my standard reply anyway, ‘Your room? It was on loan for eighteen years.'” There is no question that, regardless of the changes, whether it’s the moving out and into rooms, or moving out or into apartments or houses, there is typically that feeling of “loss.” When something’s over—it’s over, it’s in the past. It’s not always an easy transition.

    I live with my parents (once I became disabled, I moved back in though with my son) which shifted room usage in this house for the umpteenth time. Unless you live in a very spacious home (or mansion), it’s simply the way things go. My bedroom, once I got married, was converted into my father’s office/library and hasn’t changed since. My brother’s bedroom became my mom’s room (just as yours has) until we moved in—it then became my son’s room. When he married 2 years ago, my mother could not WAIT to have a room of her own again. When we moved here in 1969, from the Bronx to NJ, my grandparents moved with us. My father put up a wall which converted the supposed “family room” into their bedroom. It’s on the main level of this split level home. I think before I even got married, my brother took it over and made it his bedroom, which was when my mother made his bedroom her room. He moved out and it became a guest room. We moved back in and this room is now mine. So, yep—the changes are according to need and timing 🙂

    What I’m thinking, though, is that although you wanted a room of your own, maybe the atmosphere you’re more comfortable with is being out in the living room? Maybe it doesn’t have to do with guilt? I don’t know, but I hope you get over it! Enjoy that room! 😀

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