Oh, it’s just a plain room for a rather plain woman. A good friend of mine recently gave me a collection of three Moleskin notebooks with a note attached that read: ‘For the room of one’s (your) own, however it must look.’ Of course, I did not say what I was thinking aloud; as to not sound ungrateful, but the thought crept back to me, in its shameless cowering state. For the other side – perhaps the vain or material side – wanted a room with a view. A room with proper lighting and comfort. One with all sorts of feminine objects and trinkets, like little porcelain deer, antique jewelry boxes, mason jars full of daffodils, or vintage photographs of women in swimming caps pinned to the wall. All the beautiful girls keep such things about their bedrooms, or I imagine they must have, and I cannot say that I do not envy them because I do.
The room that is my own is just a quiet bedroom, the same one I have lived in my entire life. It is where I carved my first love poems in the back of my closet, where I handwrote my first novel about a girl who kept turning blue because she was so sad. My whole twenty-three years I have, for some reason or another, retreated to this single space where I ceased to be myself, but another entity altogether, existing separately from the rest of the world. Seven months ago, I sat down with intention to begin my novel, the thing I would later labor over, obsessively and anxiously. No, I didn’t wake up every morning and open the window to let the sunshine in, I continue to write in the night, as I always have. In fact, the only real change I made was to prop a painting of blind Milton and his three daughters up next to my computer. There he sat, keeping me company, the man I loved, admired, revered. I required his presence, in whatever small way, to remind me that every night he would stay up, as well. In those lonely hours before dawn, he’d memorize line after line before his daughters awoke in the morning to document them. His whole life he waited to compose Paradise Lost; could you imagine waiting your whole life to do something, biding your time as a civil servant, only to be dealt a debilitating handicap such as blindness? What a cruel joke, what a sad fate. Still, though, he never faltered, as I am sure many others would have in his place. ‘No excuses,’ I recite to myself, at three in the morning when it is especially difficult to write a scene and when I want to delete everything and quit. I close my eyes and burrow into my head.
So then, a desk with a nice view is nothing when the view is often just inside of your mind. I never needed beautiful things, because all of the things I ever needed existed within me, invisible and hidden. All of my art, in its various forms, whether visual or otherwise, was just an attempt to bring my visions to the outside. One must begin with a rather plain room, I suppose, if they mean to color the void of it. When I open my eyes, I see what little I have accomplished. The walls and floors wait open armed for all of the possible fetus’ of ideas that have not yet been pushed out yet.
Virginia Woolf’s ghost surely must haunt a lot of rooms, the rooms of young writers slouching over their notebooks or keyboards or typewriters, and she must smile at their concentration. After all, the point she was making was not that one must have a necessarily visually appealing room, but that one just simply have a room to begin with.
Plain rooms for plain people, I have learned, are suitable as long as those people can write something that bursts out of the room and transcends it, hovers overhead like a prayer from the lips of the old blind Milton to his single dove, the Muse.