A Room of My Own

by Linda Rodriguez

This holiday season is a time of excitement for me. I am
about to get that room of my own that Virginia Woolf warned all women must have
to write: “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write

How can this be, you might well ask? I have written and
published six books and have five more in various stages of the publishing
process. Surely, I have had a room of my own in which to do all of this. And
yes, I did have a lovely workroom that covered half of the upstairs floor of my
house. Large and airy with many windows and a balcony, which I never used
because I had so many bookcases in front of the door to the outside.

This room was half writing office and half fiber art studio.
(At one point in my life, I was a professional fiber artist who made her income
from commissions and sales of her creations.) The fiber art studio was
well-organized with shelves full of baskets and boxes of spinning fibers,
yarns, quilting fabrics, spindles, a sewing machine table, a cutting table, a
quilting frame, two spinning wheels, several small looms, while downstairs in
the living room sat a large floor loom in place of a couch. The office had a
small antique desk with drawers used as a computer and printer desk set at
right angles to a huge, sturdy cherry dining table used as my main desk. It
also had a wheeled office-supply cart, two large bulletin boards, two metal file
cabinets, many large bookcases, stuffed full of books and overflowing the room
to range throughout the house. Off in one corner sat an old exercycle that I
could use for a break from writing or sewing or weaving. I loved this room.

I have always had a problem with keeping a space all to
myself. Most wives and mothers will identify with this, I think. Our children
and husbands want our attention. They want to be where we are. And so, too
often, when I had carved a little space out just for myself, my husband and
children eventually, bit by bit, encroached on it until it was no longer mine.
But when I set up this workroom, I was ruthless. Children were grown, and my
husband had promised to stay in his own, even larger, office across the hall.
And it worked for six books.

Then, breast cancer invaded my life. At the very same time,
my youngest son moved back home after getting his Ph.D. in Iowa. He moved into
part of my husband’s office, and my husband had to move many things over to my
office where he threw them on my big desk—“only for the moment.” It was a very
good thing that my son came home to live with us during this time since he was
able to take part of the caregiving load off my husband. But he brought all the
belongings that had furnished a large two-bedroom apartment in Iowa City. Much
of it wound up added to the pile on my big desk. My son moved my computer and
replaced it with his own on the computer desk, as he began his desperate job
search. I wasn’t using it at the time since I was in the middle of my own
desperate battle.

Somewhere during that time—I’m not sure when—my son broke my
comfortable, over-twenty-year-old desk chair, and the combined weight of all
the “stuff” piled on it broke my big dining-room-table desk in half, split
right down the middle. Eventually, I grew stronger and needed to go back to
work, but my lovely workroom had been destroyed. The things piled in the room
were much too heavy for me to pick up or carry (probably why the desk gave up
the ghost under their weight). My son was. by this time, adjunct teaching full-time
at a university an hour’s drive away from our house plus the online classes he’d
committed to teach before that job came open, but he said he’d get me a new
office chair and a new desk and fix up my workroom when the semester was over.
However, he was hired as permanent full-time faculty at that university in that
other town and immediately put in charge of some key aspects of their
accreditation, which was imminent. He had to move down there immediately so he
could work seven twelve-to-fourteen-hour days a week for over a month. My
trashed workroom stayed unusable. I wrote two more books and most of a third on a laptop in my
recliner, not an ideal situation.

Now, for Christmas, my husband and sons are cleaning all the
heavy mess out of my workroom, giving me a new office chair, and repairing my great
old desk (my choice over a new one because it was such a wonderful workspace).
I am looking forward to the new year in my comfortable, organized workroom
where everything is within reach, and I can switch when I’m stuck in my writing
to some fiber art project, which always shakes loose the solutions I need in my

Virginia Woolf was right. “A woman must have money and a
room of her own if she is to write fiction.”

REPLIES TO COMMENTS because Blogger…

Thanks, Margaret! It’s time for you, as well. Virginia was right.

Debra, you’re so right! It is just what the doctor and the muse ordered. Happy holidays to you–and to everyone else, as well!

Thank you, Judith! Enjoy the holidays with all of your new books. I recommended your novel to one of my developmental editing clients recently.

Yes, Kaye, it is lovely. I’m so looking forward to getting this workroom back in functional order. Merry Christmas to you, too!

Mary, you’re so right! I’ve often asked for help with some big project around the house, especially in later years as my health and strength have waned, but my boys would rather give me things. They’re very generous. My oldest has given me for Christmas a freezer when I wanted to replace my old one and a washing machine when I needed that, and my youngest totally surprised me with a big-screen TV and a machine to run Netflix (which he also gave me for a year) for my birthday a couple of months ago–because he had seen how much his helped me when I had bad nights during the cancer surgeries and broken wrist and decided I needed one. But household projects, usually not. I think it’s a time thing. They both find it easier to find money than time. So I’m really thrilled that they’re doing this.

6 replies
  1. Margaret S. Hamilton
    Margaret S. Hamilton says:

    congratulations! My upstairs writing room is filled with the stuff the youngest shipped home after college. I'm inspired, it's time. Enjoy every minute in your reclaimed space.

  2. Debra H. Goldstein
    Debra H. Goldstein says:

    Just what the doctor and the muse ordered. Enjoy!!!!! and write five more books pronto. Happy holidays to all

  3. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    Best Christmas gift ever! . . . and the gift of help when needed was priceless. In case there are future invasions, perhaps the heavy items can go under instead of on the table?

  4. Maureen Harrington
    Maureen Harrington says:

    I loved reading each word you posted here, Linda. Touched my heart in recognition. Space wars are ongoing in my house, and I have put my foot down. For a long time I was ignored, because I had no recourse. Then I hired an assistant. Woah! War of the worlds! She waited until he was out of the space he was claiming in the living room and cleaned up. He stopped leaving the room while she was here. So we conspired and I called her in on days when he would be out. It's been hell but so worth damnation to now have the equal space amendment in force.

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