I always love the Habitats articles in the New York Times. This one about author Roxana Robinson’s apartment struck me both because I love coherent, meaningful spaces that feel good, but also because of this quote of hers: “The assumption is that writers can write wherever they can sit down, but the main thing you need as a writer is a sense of certainty that you won’t be interrupted.”
I’m a busy mom with kids that are home most of the time (for another year–we have half day kindy around here) and people are always telling me that I should just get out of the house and go to Starbucks or something and write. It’s a really nice idea–just get away from it all–and I understand where they’re coming from, but honestly it’s more likely that I could pull off backflip in a Starbucks than write a coherent paragraph. And libraries? I can’t even read in a library. Never could. Too much space and too many people. Besides, carrels are creepy.
However, what I need is exactly what she says: I need to be confident that I can disappear into writer mode and not be brought back until I’m good and ready. Internal space, not external.
Unfortunately, there are no unused (or even little used) rooms in our house. Quiet time is short and sparse. My desk is in the living room where I have to ignore the stack of bills and recipies (which are laughable anyway, since I don’t really cook) and report cards and health forms and camp information. There are no long hours of solitude around here. There are only more things to do and less time to do it in.
And yet, if I want to write, which I do, I have to accept that none of that matters. I have to create an internal space where writing can happen, because the external will not conform. Perhaps someday I will have a writing room and hours to sink away into my imagination, but until then I will just have to dream about lovely, spacious apartments, drool for a few minutes over them, and then push all the noise aside and get to work. Because if not now, when?