A Chair of One’s Own

As a writer, the phrase A Room of One’s Own resonates with me and has done so for my whole writing life. Finding the right space, or not finding the right space, has influenced my ability to write effectively, or even at all.

Perhaps this is the case with all writers, but for me, bedrooms have played a key role in my attempts to find that one perfect writing space. As a child working on my first stories (which alert readers of my blog will recall involved Bigfoot and the Bay City Rollers), I set up shop with my parents’ old portable manual typewriter on a tiny desk next to my bedroom door. As a teenager, I perched on a foldable bed placed by the bedroom window, where I wrote in the dark, my page illuminated by a single streetlamp. Often distracted, I placed my pen down and stared at that light, watching rain in summer and snow in winter pass through its glow.

Even as an adult, I couldn’t escape the bedroom. Living in a series of roommate situations found me spread out on my bed surrounded by scraps of paper from which I attempted to create a coherent narrative. When I finally lived in a place with a spare room I claimed as my own, it was still a bedroom, with a bed that bumped up against my desk. Even today, my writing desk is tucked between the bedroom closet and a clothing armoire I share with my husband—and both their doors slam into the sides of my desk, leaving gash marks.

One day this past fall, I came down the stairs to find my husband in his recliner and my soon-to-be-teenaged son sprawled completely across the couch, the only pieces of furniture in the living room. As I surveyed the scene, I caught my husband’s eye: “I need a chair,” I said.

I was serious about my chair. It had to fit by the window. It had to be big and soft enough for me to curl up and write in, but firm enough to allow me to sit up and work on a laptop if I needed to. It needed to be small enough to allow a special bookcase-side table to fit next it, where I could store my work in progress, my reads in progress, and the pens and ink I need for editing. The husband and I went to a mega-furniture store and he, ever patient, waited as I sat in every, single, armchair. Waited even more patiently as I created a shortlist of chairs and revisited each one in turn. Obligingly took out his tape measure to ensure its fit in our living room. Until I found it. The chair and a half with the spare pillow and armrests that are high enough to snuggle against and low enough to sling legs over. And only 11 weeks from order to delivery(!). So much for instant gratification.

Arrive my chair did, one November day. It fit perfectly in the space. It held me perfectly. When my son sprawls across it I can say, “That’s my chair, you get the couch.” And now when I write, I feel like I’ve finally found my space. My “chair of one’s own.” 

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