I’ve just gone mobile. I’ve exchanged my hefty desktop computer for a laptop. Scarily, this little machine is apparently equal in power and capacity to the big box that I’ve been giving up precious desk-space to for about ten years now. Technology, huh?
It’s taken me most of the weekend to swop my files and my mindset over, but now here I am, slumped on the cushions in the conservatory, typing on my lap. It’s probably not going to be good for my posture, but it has novelty value.
I’m considering the impact of this change on some wise words from one of my literary heroes, Virginia Woolf…(excuse me while I take a reverential pause)…regarding the significance of a woman needing A Room of One’s Own if she wants to be a writer.
Yes, it was and is a feminist polemic, but wait, because I’m not about to get political. I’m thinking about finding space and time to write, and that’s the same for men and women, isn’t it?
Where do we write? How do we do it? What do we need, and I mean really need, in order to write?
I have a room of my own. It’s a small converted shed, in the garden. It’s almost filled by the three bookcases, my desk and chair, and in winter, that vital piece of equipment, the heater. Additionally, since I’m a bit of a magpie, I’ve crammed it, with books, papers, pens, pictures and shiny objects.
Before that, my computer was set-up in the spare room, which was fine until we had visitors. Then I had to find a temporary corner, one that was not only out-of-the-way, but also had enough space to house my desk and chair.
So was it easier when I worked on paper? In the portable sense, yes. This laptop is a move back to that flexibility. But even then, perhaps especially then, I fantasized about having a space just for writing. I tried to create it, seeking out unused corners to lay out my materials. It was hardest to do in the days before I admitted publicly that I was aiming to be a writer.
I tried to not be tied, to write as I’d been told Jane Austen did, discreetly in a notebook that could be easily tucked out of sight. Perhaps, if you are remarkably organized this would work for you.
I’m not. I create heaps of notes on scraps of paper that teeter on the corner of my desk. I stack reference books on shelves as I work, and stuff my pockets with notebooks and scraps of inspiration. In anyone else’s eyes, it would definitely count as a muddle.
What I think, as I sit here, enjoying the change of view and contemplating the option of typing in the garden, the kitchen, who knows, maybe even the bathroom, is that it feels free. I think now that the nomadic shifts of my desk around the house were partly me creating a new writing environment.
It’s taken me a long time to get my personal writing place, and I’ve no intention of giving up my shed in the garden. It feels like an extension of my imagination, and I love it. But this laptop has reminded me that the room I really value is the space in my mind that allows me to do something so daft as to write my thoughts out and then show them to other people.