On Cynthia Newberry Martin’s blog, she’s been talking about writing rooms, and showing us photos of the beautiful room where she works. Today, she cited the famous Virginia Woolf quote:
“—a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction…”
Then, in essence, she asked if where we write affects how we write. This question resonated with me, partly because I’ve been questioning why writing this novel is harder than the first one. For me, I believe there are two reasons, but I’ll blog about the other one tomorrow. Today I’m focusing on where we write.
I lived in Indiana when I wrote my first novel, and I wrote it while sitting in my bedroom beside a bay window looking into the woods. I wrote that novel in six months. Now, I live in the central valley of California. And though my home is on a street lined with shade trees, and I can hear the birds, I can also hear traffic and all the noise gardeners make in various neighbors’ yards each day of the week. My progress on this novel? It’s one year in, and I’m still not done.
In the first part of this novel, when I wrote about a fairly reclusive woman, with the majority of the action taking place in her home and garden, I had little problem, but the rest of the book is set almost exclusively in a coastal town, and it’s been much slower going. I have to work harder to get in the mood, to place my mind in the setting. It would be so much easier, if could see the ocean, smell the air, feel the breeze, hear the gulls outside my window as I wrote.
So, I think your surroundings do help in writing, if only to give you something beautiful to look at while you wait for the next words to come.
However, if we look at Woolf’s statement another way, she’s saying we have to give ourselves permission to write, to speak. We have to make room in ourselves for the writer within us. We have to make room in our minds and in our lives. And that, we can do anywhere.