When we built our house a number of years ago, the spare bedroom was delegated to be my home office where I would write the novel that would enable my husband to retire and live off my royalties. I’m not sure if the agreement stemmed from some magnanimous gesture on his part, or if he was just sick and tired of my creativity cluttering up the rest of the house. This new room was the place where my typewriter, along with other bits and pieces of sewing or craft projects would reside. It was to be a true segregation of life essentials and creative essentials.
Initially, the system worked well. I maintained my right to my creative room through thick and thin and the advent of the twins. We bought bunk-beds and stacked kids in the corners of one bedroom so I wouldn’t have to give up my precious space.
But over the next few years, I found the lines between ‘life’ and ‘creative’ dimming. Space in the kids’ bedrooms became so scarce that more and more of their clothes and toys found their way to my study. And every time we had a house-guest, our oldest daughter would sleep on the sofa-bed.
One day I discovered that I had one kid’s pajamas in one of the desk drawers with the first chapter of my novel. Her socks were in the middle drawer with my pencils, paper clips, and used typewriter ribbons. Her training pants were piled in a corner on top of a stack of jigsaw puzzles that wouldn’t fit in the closet.
During an extended visit by my mother, our eldest moved into my study for several weeks. That was not a fun time. I enjoyed my mother immensely, but sharing space with an incredibly messy twelve-year-old girl was not my idea of a good time.
She shared my creative bent, so there was no telling what kind of painting project I might have to dodge to wend my way to my desk. Assuming I could actually find it under the mountain of discarded clothes tossed in the general direction of the hamper next to the desk.
During those times of ‘invasion’ I could also forget any impulse for late night writing. Which, by the way, was usually the only opportunity for uninterrupted creativity, unless I fell asleep.
What I find absolutely amazing as I look back on those years of chaos, is that I actually managed to get a great deal of writing done.
The other thing that amazes me, is that not all that much has changed. Despite all my efforts to be neat and organized, my current office is often as messy as that old one. And I don’t have any kids to blame.
I know. I’ll blame it on the cats.