“Find a place that is all yours to write, every day, even if it’s just a corner of a room. Make it your writing space.” A woman who I consider my writing mentor said this to me recently. I took her advice and have committed to writing at least 15 minutes a day everyday. Sometimes I do give in to my fear monster and listen to it’s critical voice: “you are not a writer, stop pretending”. That voice is with me every night as I heed my commitment to myself and sometimes it wins.
Tonight as I sit to write I realize I never did claim a space that is truly mine in our home. I sit at the dining room table most nights facing into the living room. I can see the light grey paneled walls from here. Clearly an add on to the home that had been designed in the 70’s. There is a grey couch bought at IKEA that my husband and I sit on every night to connect after our children have gone to bed. Sometimes our conversations are fun, endearing, and loving, sometimes they are boiling and penetrating. It’s the room where we figure out who we are as a couple and as a family and as individuals aside from the voices of our families of origin and their destructive tendencies. It’s the room where my voice sometimes booms at him as I learn to set limits with everyone in my life. It’s the room where I say hurtful things to him, that I wish I could take back. It’s the room where we snuggle with our children and drink coffee on Saturday mornings while they play. Tonight as I write I can see my husband sitting on our grey IKEA couch and staring into his work laptop. A football game is playing on the television. I write for 15 minutes and he waits for me to join him. Whether the content of our connection tonight will be loving or difficult I do not know. All I know is that I love him deeply and I am glad to see him there as a constant.
On the wall to my left is a chalkboard I bought in the dollar section of Target. I have written the quote “Good Writing Begins Where There is a Knot” by Margaret Atwood. It’s a reminder for me to go to the places where tension still lives for me. There are memories that still haunt me, things about myself and my life that I still need to comb through and understand. Writing has been one of the fastest and most clarifying ways of doing that. Sometimes I want to avoid the practice of writing each night. Fearful thoughts remunerate: “I am not good at this. Am I just wasting my time?” Yet there’s something in the energy of those words on that chalkboard that gives me the courage to keep going even while my demons taunt me with criticism. Like a wound that needs to heal, it reminds me that sitting down to write is painful as I face my inner critic and that it is the only way forward.
My 5 year old daughter’s desk area sits under the chalkboard. A purple Frozen themed table with a chair to match. The tiny little chair always warms and hurts my heart. It reminds me that this is precious time with her and that she will soon outgrow that little chair. I can see her art supplies and the journal she keeps. She’s of course too young to be writing in a journal but still she sits with her pen writing her scribbles inside of it. Sometimes she will run over to me, excited to show me her writing. She translates the scribbles for me, reading me her stories. She tells wonderful stories. There is no fear of messing up or seeming ridiculous. That corner of the room with the tiny table and chair, and all it’s marvelous clutter make me smile tonight. My daughter is not afraid to claim she is an artist. She boldly labels herself one. Maybe it’s time for me to do so as well.
Tonight I do not sit down to write in my own private space. I sit in our common area, where interruption and intrusion is always a possibility. As I sit and write, I hold space for the hope that I will one day have a space of my own to create. At the same time, I hold space for the warmth that wraps around my body like a blanket as I take in the knowing that I have everything I wanted.