“A Place of One’s Own”
It was Virginia Woolf who wrote about the importance of a writer having her own space for the business of writing.
And so often, especially amongst women, we do not value our time spent on our own careers. I know this from personal experience. It is so easy to allow your own endeavors to take a back seat to … well,… everything else: kids, spouses, homes, food preparation. Part societal, part pressure we place on ourselves. Just… don’t. Your kids are gonna be messed up, regardless. Don’t believe the perfect pictures everyone else posts on Facebook. Their kids are messed up too. Relieve yourself of the pressure and just consider that ship as having already set sail.
Twenty years ago, we bought our home. On the property was a very modest house, a shed with a roof and walls that were falling in, and the original house on the property. Don’t get any grandiose ideas. The original house was a one-room, cinderblock building. The roof was intact, but not much else. The flooring was a layer of gravel under a layer of tongue-in-groove boards under a layer of linoleum. Insulation? Ha ha. Don’t be silly. Windows? Truthfully, I can’t remember if there were still windows in the little house.
The couple who used to live in the little house cooked their meals on a wood cook stove with just a single bare lightbulb dangling from the center of the ceiling in the 12ft. X 20ft house. (Yes, that’s about the size of a modest living room.) Today, we would call that a “tiny house” and it would be built on a flatbed trailer. Sadly, one of the first owners passed away. His wife later built the modular home that we would later live in. I was never lucky enough to meet the previous owners, long since gone, but I felt the house, the one acre lot, and the little out building all had good karma.
For years, the little cinderblock structure just sat there, in the back yard, very near our house. I had small children at the time, and they used it infrequently as a sort of playhouse, but in truth, it was far too creepy for them. (That’s all part and parcel of messing up your kids, but that’s a blog post for another day.)
One day, I decided it was worth the risk. I took out a $5,000 loan, hired a string of “good ol’ boy” builders and the little house took on new life. At first it was rented monthly to various people looking for moderately short-term housing. Honestly, that’s all it was fit for. It is TINY. It makes a “tiny house” look grand.
But then it came into its next life. Today, I rent “The Fox Den – A Writer’s Retreat” to weekend and weekly guests: people who just need a weekend away to recalibrate, writers who need a space to just “finish up this manuscript”.
And when it’s not in use by our guests? Well, I get a day or two in between guests, (not this week though), to go out, plug in the lap top, and write. There’s little I enjoy more than sharing the Fox Den. You can check it out here: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/487795?location=Keswick%2C%20VA%2C%20United%20States&s=Oi0Huqgr
“A Place of One’s Own” – that’s my next project! In another corner of the yard, I began converting one of our two storage sheds into “A Place of (MY) Own”. I’ll post updated photos as my outdoor office begins to take shape. In the meantime, I’ll continue with my “world building” from my little desk in the living room – also known as the foyer. As a glimmer of hope to any other writers with small children; relish every minute on both ends – when they’re babies who disrupt your very real work as a writer, as well as when they are grumpy teens who sleep until noon. Just know that they will sleep late… someday… and then you too can carve out a “place of (your) own” toward building your writing career… even if it’s just a little space in your foyer.