A Room of One's Own

 

“A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.”

                                                                       ~ Virginia Woolf

 

I am operating on less than four hours of sleep and less than six hours of me time for the whole week.  I feel edgy and my skin crawls from lack of recovery sleep and lack of alone time.  I am propped up by spearmint gum, latte caffeine and a couple new songs on my iPod.  I sit in the most remote corner of the Quiet Study Room in the public library.  My phone is on vibrate and the room is silent except for the light clicking of fellow laptop users. I desperately need to go within and tap the spring where ideas live and writing flows.  I need to create something and finish it.  I need a room of my own.

 I’m Not Afraid of Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf wrote her famous feministic essay A Room of One’s Own in 1928.  She claims the sky is unveiled when women have an income and a space of their ownA Room of One’s Own explores the history of women in writing.  The sixteenth and seventeenth century’s shelves are sadly void of female authors.  Men of the era wrote lovely lines of poetry and literature depicting women as angels, beauties and wise confidantes.  In reality, most women were sold off young to an arranged marriage and expected to bear children until their uteruses sputtered and fell out.  No time or space for writing.  For some, there must have been a frustration that made them want to dash their brains out (no doubt some did) but a sense of responsibility prevailed.  It was not until the early 1800s that Jane Austen dared to write a little novel called Sense and Sensibility.  Jane was a rare case in that her family, including brothers and her father, believed in her education.  Even so, she wrote in the common sitting room on blotting paper kept hidden from servants and visitors outside her family.  Even Jane Austen had no room of her own. 

 At Least Someone’s Getting It

A scandalous female writer named Frances  Hodgson Burnett did manage to run away in 1898 to a hideaway in the English countryside.  She was dodging the far-sighted eye of scrutiny not for her writing but for her divorce and romp with her financial manager.  While at her manor in the countryside, she built walls of brick around an outdoor space where she planted 100s of rose bushes.  She spent full days in the garden room writing, reading and blossoming.  After her return to the states several years later, she wrote a successful novel entitled The Secret Garden

Gatherers

Women are very often surrounded by others, plopped in the center of hustle and bustle.  We are the sorters, the organizers, the mirrors of all.  For these virtues we are rewarded with continuous chaos and perpetual publicity.  We are the hub, circled by spokes that keep us dizzy from constant motion.  Perhaps, it is an evolutionary characteristic left over from hunter-gatherer communities where survival depended on supporting the tribe.  Will evolution ever make us comfortable being alone, free individuals?

 No Place to Hide

Today a room of our own is a hiding place or an extravagance.  My own home, which is of good size for five people, has no room where I can retreat.  Even the master bedroom (note the name) is shared and strategically located next to the laundry room, living room and kitchen.  It is not a quiet sanctuary.  Even my sleep is interrupted because of the comings and goings of others.  I feel a sense of kinship with my sisters of history.  There is an inner turmoil that feels like rocks in my pockets, weighing me down, heavy with instinctual conflict.  

Be at the center of the family or create a separate space to realize my own dreams?

More Than Just a Room

While driving home from my six-hour writing stint at the library, I realized a room of one’s own is more than four walls and a door that belongs to you.  It is the ability or space to accomplish something, to spearhead your own project without outside interference.  It is a sense of purpose gained from doing work derived from your own being.  I spent hours at the library (definitely not my own room) and felt satisfied with my efforts and ideas.  I felt full but not heavy.  I was ready to be with everyone.

 

Do you ever feel strung out from too much togetherness? Do you have a space to be alone?  What would you accomplish with a room all to yourself?  

If you enjoyed A Room of One’s Own you may also love: 

There’s Nothing Wrong With You.  You’re an Introvert. (space2live)

Introvert Relationships: Love Me or Leave Me but Please Don’t Need Me (Too Much) (space2live)

In Defense of Introverted Parents  (space2live)

How to Protect and Liberate Your Energy: A Guide for Introverts and Anyone Who Feels Drained (space2live)

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16 Comments

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  6. Maureen @ Vaco-Vitae
    July 13, 2011

    My husband and I are location-independent (meaning we’re full time travelers without a single “nest” that we call home). So, I am in and out of many rooms–be they hotels, short-term housing or the homes of others when we house-sit.

    With this lifestyle (on top of being an HSP), I have to make darn sure that I carve out space for myself. I do it in the morning (gotta grab it before the day gets away from me!) I retreat to an empty room–any room will do–with my thoughts, and my computer for a couple hours of retreat. Hubby knows not to even come near. And luckily, our kids are grown and gone. By the time I emerge–around 9:00 AM, I can face the day.

    Reply
    • brennagee
      July 13, 2011

      Thank you for your comment Maureen.:) Your lifestyle sounds fascinating. I am curious how the full time traveling affects you as an HSP. Also, it’s funny that you mention stealing away for a couple of hours in the morning. I have found myself doing that very same thing this summer. I wake up at 6:30 and tiptoe into the study. I don’t allow myself to look at email or facebook. I just read, write and breathe. It’s a lovely way to start the day.
      Thanks again for sharing.:)

      Reply
  7. BeccaFetz
    July 8, 2011

    Although I enjoy being around people and re energize sometimes amongst them..I often forget and long for “me” time…which I also so desperately need as well. I don’t understand why its so hard for me to allow myself this time..its crazy. To sit and just write or read or simply do nothing at all..I find myself feeling almost guilty like I am being idle or selfish in some way..how silly. I know this to be true but, old habits die hard sometimes. I seem to let myself become almost empty before I finally give myself permission to just “be”.
    Its kind of hard to explain and I chuckle at myself why I struggle with this so much. 🙂 Thanks for sharing..great read. I adore Jane Austin..one of my very fave authors.

    Reply
    • brennagee
      July 8, 2011

      Maybe we are at a place in our evolution where our instinct to nurture others is equal to our drive to go within.:) We’ve all been raised with the Protestant work ethic ringing in our ears. Idle hands do the devil’s work … Let yourself BE my friend. You will feel energized. I feel a sense of wholeness when I get to go within myself. My brain seems to work better too, more ideas, more answers. Jane Austen is aces in my book.:)

      Reply
  8. Sarah Quick
    July 8, 2011

    Beautiful – and SO true. 🙂

    Reply
    • brennagee
      July 8, 2011

      Hi Sarah! Thank you! I can see you creating some wonderful things in space of your own. So good to see your name and think of your smiling face.

      Reply
  9. collaborate2011
    July 8, 2011

    Enjoy your reflections here, especially your comment about the ‘Master’ bedroom!

    Reply
    • brennagee
      July 8, 2011

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting! Maybe the master bedroom should be called the “sanctuary room where only quiet adults may linger.” 😉

      Reply
  10. allwaysunmended
    July 8, 2011

    When we were putting this house back together, we made sure to include a library for me to run away to, to work and write and just BE. I was in love with the idea. A room of my own. It’s everyone’s favorite. I’m considering figuring out how to rent a studio apartment somewhere.hehe

    Reply
    • brennagee
      July 8, 2011

      Jess I have always been jealous of your library.:) I’ve thought about renting a studio apartment too!! We should get a timeshare, he he;) I know you are a creative lady and appreciate space to BE. You create so many beautiful things. Do YOU get much time alone in your library?

      Reply