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Saturday, February 6, 2010

A room of one's own

I have an office.

With a door.

Now, for some people this might not be such a big deal. But for me, this is huge. When I first started writing with the idea that I might make it my career, my "office" was a large pine computer armoire situated along a large wall in the breakfast room portion of my house. This was when we lived in Ohio and our house was a modern take on a colonial, with the entire back of the first floor making up one large living area comprised of kitchen, family room, and yes, breakfast room. It's okay-- my kids were toddlers at the time and it made it easy for me to be able to keep an eye on them. I learned a few valuable lessons, such as being able to work with distractions and what working pattern was best for me. In those days, it was research during the day, in other words, something that could be set aside quickly and picked up just as quickly, then write at night. And oh boy, did I have some late nights back then.

When we moved to Florida, my armoire and I did get a room of our own—sort of. The guest bedroom area in the house was enormous-- big enough to house the guest room furniture, including the queen-sized bed, and my armoire. So there was a door that closed, but with a caveat. I had to desert it whenever my mother came to visit. (Side note: this was when I first started using a laptop as my primary computer-- at least I could pick up and move without much interruption.) This bedroom also had the misfortune of being right next to the pantry. And my husband had this horrible habit of going in the pantry, standing there, and nibbling on food. Do you have any idea how annoying it is to have someone hovering mere feet away while rooting around in the Tostitos bag and nibbling? It was like having an army of crazed squirrels camped outside. More than once I'd stalk out there, grab something, shove it into his hands and yell, "Take it and get out!"

Distractions are one thing, but this was genuinely crazy-making.

(Poor man... what he puts up with, in terms of my quirks...)

Anyhow, once I sold, I announced that there was no reason that I should have this huge room of which I was using maybe one-fifth. So I decided to get rid of the bedroom furniture, install a daybed to serve guests, and buy proper office furniture and bookcases and a comfy chair. And I did. And it was glorious. I was still sharing with the guest room, but now the guest part of the room was relegated to the background.

Of course, no sooner than I had put the finishing touches on the room than we decided we needed to move houses so we could be in a better school district for our kids. So we moved. And in our new house, I really, really wanted a proper office. And the house we moved to had a great space-- upstairs. Which wouldn't have been a problem except 1) my dog, not having grown up in a house with stairs, refused to go up them and if he wasn't glued to my side, he was whining; 2) my kids and husband. Who love playing console games and are kind of, frankly, slobs, leaving stuff all over the floor and tables and any available surface. No way was I leaving them out in the open where everyone could see their mess. The guest room double up wasn't going to work in this house was because it was way, way too small (it barely fit the daybed and a storage armoire), so I was left with using what had once been the formal living room. Completely open to the rest of the first floor and adjacent to the kitchen.

Really, I'm good at working with distractions. Managed to write two more manuscripts, including WHEN THE STARS GO BLUE (the next release), in that space, but it was less than ideal and I definitely felt rootless and sort of shunted aside.

Which brings us to our new house in Seattle. You can bet your sweet bippy I put my foot down this time. I commandeered a room on the main floor so Cranky Dog would be happy. It has four walls. A beautiful window. A huge walk-in closet that I've appropriated for even more storage/working space. I'm surrounded by my pictures and books and artwork and things that amuse me and make me happy. And there's a door.

The irony, of course, is that I rarely close the thing. I like being connected to the rest of the house and knowing what's going on, even if it means a little bit of distraction, but it's the psychological comfort of knowing I can close the door if I want.

It's mine. I don't have to share. But generally, anyone's welcome. Here, have a look. And even though it's not completely finished (because terrifyingly enough, I have more books to unpack) why don't you join me for a tour:


Gina Black said...

I have a room with a door, too, for the very first time. It's glorious. To top it off, there's an insanely beautiful view.

Shelley/Book Fanatic said...

That's exciting! Enjoy your new office! I hope you get alot of writing done! And you too Gina! Although an insanely beautiful view might be too distracting! lol

Jenny said...

Sometimes it's just knowing that you CAN close the door if you want to that makes all the difference!