In my case, a room of my own is turning out to be the inspiration I need to get my writing juices flowing again after a couple of years of hibernation.
For years, I've craved a room decorated with bright colors, provocative artwork and my favorite books, in sharp contrast to the monastic writing room of novelist Roxana Robinson. This writer, whose works include a well-regarded biography of Georgia O'Keeffe, one of my favorite artists, tellls The New York Times in an article published a few days ago that her art-filled study lined with books had proven too stimulating for her to write. Instead, she now camps out to write in another room in her Manhattan apartment that is devoid of any remarkable characteristics, unless you count the brick wall she faces as she writes on her laptop.
Throughout my 14-plus years in journalism, I've found I work best at home, not in a cubicle or otherwise drab environments, though breaking news often has required I write in places as sparse as my car or a street corner.
Truthfully, I believe a writer passionate enough about her work can write anywhere. After all, there was one job exactly 10 years ago where I, too, stared at a brick wall much of the day. But instead of taking solace in my writing, I escaped to another job where I didn't feel so limited and had a desk overlooking one of California's main freeways. As it turns out, this job was the one for which I traveled the most. My last two years on the job were spent mostly on reporting assignments or working at home.
Now, here I am, no longer a full-time journalist since I prefer to be a full-time mom, but a writer nonetheless, of this blog and other writing projects. Except now, I have a multitude of new responsibilities and worries, which means I have less time to write, less time to get into a writing groove with two young kids running around. How then does one get inspired with a snap of the fingers?
I present to you my new writing room. Give or take a few details, it is the writing room of my dreams. I've been working on it almost a year now, juggling it with other decorating projects around the house and taking my time picking out furniture and artwork for it.
Perhaps my favorite painting in the room is of a little girl on a boat. As soon as I saw it on Ebay, I decided to buy the framed vintage painting because it reminded me of Xochimilco in my native Mexico City, although the description said the origin was unknown and possibly Hawaiian. I took a chance and bought it, but the framed painting arrived with the glass broken into countless tiny pieces. As I removed the painting from the broken glass, I noticed a slight notation in pencil on the back of the painting that said, "Xochimilco." Had the frame and glass arrived intact, I would have hung it as it was and never would have seen the notation or known that my instinct about the painting's origin was correct.
Most recently, I spent a couple of days painting a futon I bought unfinished 10 years ago after seeing the super-stylish Alison of My Little Happy Place make over a dresser in glossy turquoise. At first, I intended to refinish my thrifted desk a glossy pink, but decided against it at the last minute since time was limited and I still needed to strip off the old paint and varnish from the desk.
After the paint job:
Truthfully, my futon right after the paint job looked more like it belonged in a bordello than the office of a suburban mom. A quick online order for a new inexpensive cream-colored slipcover and a change of throw did wonders to save the project from further good-natured ribbing from my husband about how I had "ruined" a perfectly good (not pretty, but good) piece of furniture. More importantly, the room no longer looks unfinished with the futon painted pink.
Elsewhere in the office, you will find discounted bookcases and file cabinets from a Pottery Barn outlet near my home (since they are pricey direct from the store), original art found mostly on Ebay (keyword vintage painting turns up awesome deals), some vintage office supplies found on Ebay or at thrift stores and two $500 designer lamps I bought on sale for $50 each at a nearby Anthropologie. (Yes, it pays to develop relationships with the salespeople, who can phone you to alert you to sales on items you want.)
One glaring photo missing from this post is one of my desk, which will frankly have to wait a couple of years until I have much longer stretches at a time for a refinishing job. It is, at the moment, nothing remarkable to look at, what with my endless piles of papers and books all over it. I promise to post a photo of it and my ultra-large inspiration board that I hung next to it in the weeks to come.
As you can see, everything from the artwork to the futon in my new writing room is meaningful to me. The room, like my writing, has developed over time, with hard work and much love. Inspiration is everywhere now.