Once again, we welcome author Patricia Burroughs to Magical Words. Patricia Burroughs loves dogs, books, movies, and football. A lifelong Anglophile, she treasures her frequent travels in the British Isles researching The Fury Triad, the epic fantasy that has taken over her life and heart. She is a Nicholl Fellow, a proud member of Book View Café, and a fifth-generation Texan. She and her high school sweetheart husband are living happily ever after in their hometown of Dallas, Texas.
“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”
When I first started writing, I had three young sons in a three-bedroom house. No place for an office.
My ‘office’ consisted of me and my typewriter (oh hush, yes, it has been that long ago) on a small folding table in the corner of the bedroom.
Later, I decided to turn the built-in vanity by the master bath into a desk and heaved my typewriter onto it (which kind of created tense moments when I was writing my first sex scene and kept embarrassing myself every time I glanced up at the mirror and met my own eyes).
Eventually, I bought one of those pressboard combination desk/bookcase office pieces from Office Depot and put it in the den, facing in toward me, with the ugly raw pressboard facing everybody else. I felt a kinship with Les Nessman and his duct-tape-on-the-floor office walls, if you remember WKRP. It gave me the closest thing to privacy I could create in a crowded house.
Sometimes I moved the whole setup into the living room. Or the den. Or back to the living room.
I kept moving it around from place to place over several years and several books, a move generally being a sign that my writing was blocked and suddenly moving my ‘office’ into a new location was the Absolute Only Thing that would help me get unblocked, as in, “I will go crazy and scream if I have to sit in this spot one more second, no wonder I can’t write!”
But during all this time, I had an idea. Nobody took my idea seriously, mind you. I kept telling people about it, and they just rolled their eyes.
I wanted to turn the closet into an office.
Finally the day came when my Dearly Beloved agreed to empty our ‘vast’ (4×6 feet) walk-in closet for me. We ripped out the built-in shelves and clothes rods. Finally I was left with an empty 24 square feet, painted a pretty turquoise, with white trim. I bought 3 inexpensive white bookcases and put them U-shaped around one side of the closet, and put my small office supply store desk against the remaining wall. Finally, I squeezed my rolling chair in.
I sat down.
Facing straight ahead, I was facing my Mac. All I had to do was spin in any direction, and I could reach any book on the shelves, the squeeze was that tight. Okay, if they were high, I had to stand up to reach them. But seriously, I never had to leave my chair (nor could I; there was no floor space); I was surrounded by my research materials, business supplies, favorite keeper books.
I had an office of my own.
Since that time, my kids have grown up, moved out, and left me a 10×12 bedroom to use as my office. Ironically, now that I have it, it’s often stuffed to the gills, an ‘inbox’ where I stick stuff that I am not sure what to do with. I muck it out from time to time and enjoy the space, but you see, I still regularly hit that, “I can’t write another word in this space; I have to go somewhere where I can think/not see housework/insert excuse here.” And now, I just pick up my MacBook Air and go to the dining room, the living room, go back to bed, go to Starbucks, go to the local TexMex restaurant (where WAY too much of This Crumbling Pageant was written, as my waistline will attest), claim my booth and settle in to write.
With the advent of the laptop, the need for four walls, for a desk, is less intense.
But you want to know the irony?
I have never written in any place as perfect as that closet of my own. That first time that my writing was given Priority and my need for space to do it was treated as Real.
How does this fit into This Crumbling Pageant? There is no doubt which room Persephone Fury would make her own.
The numbness was creeping back into her fingers. “I think I shall have a rest,” she said and would have left quickly to hide her unsettled state had not her brother Cosmo entered at just that moment.
“Poppet,” he said. “Just the brilliant mind I’m seeking.” He offered his hand. “Could I press you into service for the afternoon? If an afternoon in the duke’s library appeals.”
She shot to her feet. Aubyn’s library? She’d been wanting time in there since they’d arrived but had been warned against appearing too odd, and a young lady perusing volumes in the duke’s library was odd, indeed.
Cosmo tucked her hand into the crook of his arm. “We’ll take the back stairs, why don’t we?”
Of course they would, so she would be seen entering the library by as few people as possible.
Whatever your dream, your goal—you can’t make it real if you don’t make room for it. You have to fight for that room, defend that room, and finally make use of that room once you establish it. That doesn’t only mean creating a physical space where you can pursue it or embrace it. It means creating time, as well, which means giving up other things, even things you love, even things that are worthy. If you are going to achieve your dreams and your goals, they have to have room to live and grow.
What dream are you making real? What have you given up or claimed in order to do so?