A Room of One’s Own, by Deb Tiffany

bookcover1Sorry, guys. My post won’t have pictures (just those you create in your mind). For one thing, I’m going to describe some of my past offices, and, for another, my office is a really private space to me and currently very messy.

When I was single, I had a desk in the bedroom of my apartment in New York, and, lo, it was good. A beautiful room in a pre-war building. Light-filled. Eggshell walls. Windows across one wall and a view over rooftops. I loved it.

Then I got married and moved to England. First, I had no office because I moved into my husband’s tiny, wretched, bachelor flat. Then, we bought a slightly larger house and things kind of improved. I got a desk again (makeshift, true, out of two cabinets and some particle board), but it was in a miniscule room shared by my husband’s desk (which was actually my old desk). And I hated the view.

When we moved back to the States, things improved again, sort of. I acquired office space in what I came to refer as “The Hole.” It really was a hole, a cubby you walked down some steps to, set off of the library, unheated and spidery. I didn’t have a door, but no one else in the family really ever came down there, and that’s where I managed to write The Little Giant of Aberdeen County.

We moved last year and I have finally come full circle. Once again, my office is part of my bedroom, a sort of lovely, half-room separated from the bedroom by a double-sided fireplace. Windows fill two walls, and the view is great: hills, a huge gum tree, all kinds of birds, and yes, rooftops.

I have an antique desk I rescued from my parents’ basement, a comfy armchair and ottoman, and paintings I love. On my desk, there are pictures of my family, my icon of the Virgin, an old, china teapot that I use as a pencil holder, bracelets I collected from my travels, and a gooseneck lamp.

Virginia Woolf said you should have a room of your own, and she’s right. For me, one of the biggest gifts about being published has been that it’s finally given me the permission I foolishly thought I needed to make a haven for myself where I can nurture my imagination, take my writing seriously, and express myself. It’s kind of my version of “If you build it, they will come.” I loved my office in New York, but I love this one more because my kids barge into it, I can hear my family through the doors, and it’s right here in my home, where I most like to be.

Finally, let me offer Stephen King’s advice from On Writing: “It starts with this,” he writes, “put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down there to write, remind yourself why it isn’t in the middle of the room. Life isn’t a support-system for art. It’s the other way around.” In other words, make sure that door opens every now and then and lets the world in. Bon Vivant!

7 Replies to “A Room of One’s Own, by Deb Tiffany”

  1. “For me, one of the biggest gifts about being published has been that it’s finally given me the permission I foolishly thought I needed to make a haven for myself where I can nurture my imagination …” Nodding along with this. So true!

    I also love that Stephen King quote. That’s an amazing book, and I remember that section where at one time he did have this massive, imposing desk that took up the whole room and he didn’t like it, ultimately. My office door opens to the family room, too, and although my door can close, I never close it. (And not JUST because doing so would freeze my toes.)

  2. Ahhhh…. how I’d love to have a room of my own – or even half a room. But I have to make due for now with my little landing-cum-office. But at least I do have the house to myself on most days.

  3. I love Virgin imagery, Tiffany! Did you see mine on my treasure shelf?

    Your office sounds personal and perfect! Offices are like romantic partners–you have to find the one that suits you best, because “pretending” will just leave you wanting something else.

  4. I’m loving these posts this week because just in the past few days I reclaimed the writing room that was supposed to be mine (on the 3rd floor with slanted ceilings and a skylight, blue-green walls and clean white trim) when we added on to this house 3 years ago, but has been a dumping ground/junkroom from the get go. I finally made it my project and I LOVE IT. it’s filled with my stuff and possibilities. I find that when I go there my whole frame of mind changes. Writing is what I do there. Not think of grocery lists or chores or laundry.

    What a difference it makes.

  5. I sort of have that “room of one’s own.” And I almost lost it. After I got pregnant four years ago, I said to my husband, “What are we going to do? We’ll have to have a nursery for the baby,” and he said, “We’ll have to turn your office (which is also his ‘changing room’ because our house is small with little closet space) into the nursery.” I’m sure my mouth dropped open. I said, “No, we won’t. We can’t do that.” Rather, we ended up taking our dilapidated junk and cat room and fixing it up. What a relief! Now that my book has sold, I too feel justified in keeping my little room. I have plants and two windows. My husband has his laundry basket, shoes and surfboards, but it’s pretty great. Our son is four years old, and I can hear him through the door… (which isn’t closed too often these days). My debut novel THE HANDBOOK FOR LIGHTNING STRIKE SURVIVORS comes out in April, 2010. P. S. I love the title of your novel and the book cover. I look forward to checking it out. xo michele

  6. Thanks, guys. All your offices sound so cozy! I’ve been struck by how many of us seem to migrate around the house, even when we do have our offices (I know I get stir crazy). But I do think it’s important to have some kind of creative space, even if it’s just a pillow in a corner. It trains the mind.

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