A room without books is like a body without a soul.
– Cicero (106 BC – 43 BC)
Readers, I apologize for the 10 day lapse in blog postings. I hope some of you are still hanging in there with me. I did not have the baby, as some might have wondered, but simply have not had anything to say for the past week or so.
This weekend, just three weeks away from D-Day, we put the finishing touches on the nursery, which used to be my office, and transformed a corner in our guest bedroom into my new workspace (see above photo). In the past, I’ve had grandiose ideas about the place in which I might best write, imagining a small, sparsely-decorated shed in our back yard with French doors, a lot of sunlight and fresh air, or a nice, bright corner room (in some other, bigger house) with ample desk and bookshelf space and inspiring prints/quotations/magazines/journals/art strewn haphazardly around the place.
While I recognize these imaginings as pure vanity, the thought of cramming my beloved books and necessary files in this tiny guest bedroom corner has still depressed me. I knew it was coming, but hadn’t had the energy or the strength to face it. I’ve been using our living room as an office, perching myself Indian-style on the couch (with Ivy by my side) for hours on end, covering our too-large coffee table with reading materials and the Mac, cluttering the biggest room of our home (which is still rather small) with papers, receipts, and whatever shoes I might kick off in the throws of creative process.
This weekend, APK put an end to all that nonsense. He claimed his own nesting instincts with such enthusiasm he really could have been in his own male-style pregnancy trimester. From the glider in the nursery, I watched as he cleaned out closets, shoving two bags of golf clubs, old briefcases, keepsake boxes and random junk into unspecified locations. He artfully reorganized my bookshelf, rearranged furniture, created a make-shift file cabinet for me out of a little table with hidden trunk-space. By the time Andrew was finished, the guest bedroom corner looked way more professional and organized than my previous “office” (a real catchall room) and was far cozier. Thanks to his efforts, I’ve spent the morning comfortably confined by a real desk in front of a window with a hot cup of tea, plenty of books within reach, and Ivy still beside me.
Throughout my pregnancy, I have been the uneasy recipient of well-meaning ladies’ commentaries on how “life will never be the same” once the child arrives, and intensely annoyed by other misguided attempts at humor in which young mothers claim I’ll want to “put the baby back in the womb” once I’ve had it at home for a few days. Gee, thanks – all that sounds like a lot of fun. (To which these people would respond, “Oh, it is fun, so much fun. It’s just a different kind of fun.”)
So it’s no surprise that fixing up a permanent space for my pre-baby self – the self with a writerly bent and time for creativity – has made me feel as though I am claiming a space, however tiny, that will remind me of what I feel called to. It was silly of me to think that a tangible space would make or break my creativity – a means of procrastination I relied on too easily – or to fear that having the baby take over my old office was a metaphor for him/her taking over my brain space/life/general sense of sanity.
In the end, after all this dithering about where my “stuff” would go and where I might be inspired, I’ve discovered that my physical space could be a table at a coffee shop, or a local library carel, or underneath a tree. As long as it feels like it’s “mine,” the details don’t matter much. The more vital lesson here is that I (and any other writer, regardless of motherhood or other life swings) give myself to the mental space of the work, that I make wiser use of my time, that I hole up in whatever sliver of space exists, do what I have been trained to do, and enjoy it.