The Proverbial Room of One’s Own


by Tim Wynne-Jones

I missed the deadline for my blog! Completely forgot it. Sorry, one and all, but I have about the best excuse a writer could ever have: I’m writing. After a seven-month dry spell (see my blog about empty wells from last fall) March roared in like a lion. It didn’t hurt that we’d taken a beautiful house in Salcombe, Devon for the month that provided that most crucial properties for writing: a room of one’s own. Woolf got that one right. The second morning we were there, I woke up at 4:00 and, taking a big shaky, frightened breath, reread the 36 pages of a novel I’d started almost exactly a year ago and not touched since. It was all there; all the passion I’d felt at the time and not been able to find while travelling.

By the time we left Devon on March 30th, I’d written 180 new pages. I was worried about returning to our cramped quarters in London, but there was enough momentum to keep the thing going. Two weeks later, I’m at 350 pages.

I’ve even figured out how to write in coffee shops.

I had always disdained that idea as being a Natalie Goldberg kind of dilettantism, but as long as you know what the scene is you’re writing before you get to the café, and as long as the words are already lining up in your head, the squalling babies and mobile ring tones fade into white noise. The barista even knows my drink of choice!

            But the room.

I had never realized just how unportable my job was. I guess Hemmingway could write in cafes because he travelled light – no adjectives! I couldn’t until I got the thing – the story — snowballing down the hill to the point where I have to hustle just to keep up with it. Lunching with Philip Pullman in February he said that ideas don’t come to him, they come to his desk. There is truth in that. But it’s good to know the desk can be somewhere else, as long as it’s in a room where all your notes are spread out, a room you don’t have to pack up whenever you leave it, a room of one’s own.    

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “The Proverbial Room of One’s Own

  1. You mean there's hope for me to someday be able to write in a coffee shop? I thought it was an impossible task! Thanks, Tim!.

  2. For a long time while raising my kids, I couldn't work any place that was quiet – a coffee shop was perfect. People chattering, toddlers toddling, espresso machines puffing and steaming, cash register drawers pinging open, coins going into the tip bottle. I'd gotten so used to the noise and tumble of kids everywhere that when I had free time, it was silence I found disconcerting! Glad to hear that the muse (aka your own genius) has found you in lovely Devon, Tim. Can't wait to read whatever new story you've cooked up.

  3. Yay, for writing again! And how thrilling to have it come in such a rush. I have a good friend who writes in coffee shops–with ear plugs. Very generous of you to share this experience. Helpful to all.

  4. Wishing you the space and time to bring your new work into being, Tim! You remind us all that good things (maybe even novels!) come to those who both wait and work.

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