“A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.”
― Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own
I first read A Room of One's Own more than thirty years ago. I thought it was brilliant then and still do - particularly because I so rarely have time to sit and think these days. It seems as if life is simply too full of electronic devices and responsibilities that necessarily take priority over creative activities.
I'm trying to change that - to spend less time on-line and more time with my thoughts. Instinctively, I know I need time for quiet reflection in order to recharge - which is one of the reasons I like running so much. However hard it feels physically, it provides opportunities to let my mind wander, to think about things that matter to me, and to explore creative ideas.
I read an interesting article lately that talked about why compassion may be in such short supply today. One of the theories is that, when people don't have time to daydream, they don't learn to empathize with other people. And, since they can't empathize, they can't feel compassion either. Of course, in a world of 24/7 connectivity - with more things to entertain and distract - fewer people take time to daydream, which may in turn mean the world will be less compassionate in future - a pretty depressing possibility if you ask me.
In any case, from a personal perspective, the lack of time on my own has been getting to me lately. Don't get me wrong. I love hanging out with Husband. It's just that I spend all day every day interacting with people at the office and need a little solitude now and again to recharge and work on writing and other projects without interruption.
With that in mind, Husband and I spent a good part of yesterday afternoon turning an unused bedroom into "a room of my own". As I write this, I'm sitting at the table we brought up from the basement to use as a desk. Though small, the room's got plenty of natural light and two windows that offer views of the majestic pines that surround our house, which I can stop to admire whenever I need a break. I must say it feels remarkably good to have this little space of my own.
My friend Rob (a terrific illustrator and musician) recently reminded me that I don't need the perfect space, the best tools or unlimited time to be creative. I need only to give myself permission to create wherever, whenever and in whatever way I can. By taking a few minutes to capture writing ideas in a notebook. Or by grabbing a quick photo with my smart phone. Or by doodling an image on the corner of a memo. Or by writing a short blog post...even when I don't feel I have much to say.
Having my own room won't automatically mean I spend more time daydeaming or working on creative projects. That will happen only if I turn off my devices and start making time for those things. But it is at least a symbol of my intention to spend more time feeding my soul so that I'm better equipped to live my life as I'd like to - with much more empathy, compassion and creativity.
Happy running and writing, friends.