Wednesday, March 21, 2012

the Cabin

When I read these books about writing by authors like Anne Lamott, or Natalie Goldberg I enjoy them quite a bit.  Except when I get to the chapter where, like clockwork, they each address the quintessential need a writer has to have a “writing space.”  That nook, corner, office, or wing of your house that provides any good writer with the essentials; a broad desk for computers and notebooks and staplers, a wall on which to post notes with pushpins, a window through which to gaze upon the world, and a perfect atmosphere for contemplation and creation.

It is a delightful thought, an image which almost anyone, writer or no, can pop into imagination and know precisely what is being talked about. It is a perfect and elusive thing, which I, an aspiring writer, regretfully do not have.
Our house is very very small.  The kind of small that makes you think of bird nests and bee hives.  Neither of which are actually of a scale much different than our house.  Rob built the house years ago as a small, eco-friendly home for him and his daughter.  But it did not take long before I came along, and soon was pregnant.  And then we were four.
The house is not built for four people.  So a year or two into life as a foursome, we added on another small bedroom, and an office.  This expanded our lives quite a bit, allowed each kid their own room, and gave us a little more room to grow.  But it did not allow for Rob nor I to have our own workspaces.
It seems that lately, despite currently turning the porch into an enclosed sunroom, the house seems to be getting even smaller.  Babies are not babies anymore, but little boys and teenagers.  Cable TV, work at home days, and my writing aspirations are all making the space seem less like a functional home, and more like a bee colony.  Everyone packed into one round, paper thin ball; making messes, striving to do our best, and dipping our hands in a little honey. 
I have no funds to rent my own office space, and little time or inclination to force Rob to build one.  With the unlikely occurrence that my first picture book submission will be picked up immediately, become crazy popular, and instantly make me a million bucks, I still greatly feel the need to have my own designated writing space.  A space where I can hear myself think and leave paper notes lying about where small sticky hands won’t get to them.  Crazy dream I know.
And yet, I have hope.  Because I also have the Cabin.  In between the extra room addition years ago, and the current sunroom addition, Rob built a small Cabin.  A couple hundred feet back at the edge of the property, is a wood stove heated, no electric or water, simple pine room with a sleeping loft.  There is a desk which is not so broad, a nature setting that allows mice to run gaily through the roof boards, and you have to run back to the house for coffee refills and bathroom breaks.  It’s rustic, cold in winter, and technically I cannot call the space “mine.”
But we have banned all unaccompanied children from the room, I have stocked the cabinet with pistachios and chocolate cookies, and there are several wide windows to gaze through and contemplate the birds.  I have done a lot of writing in the Cabin in the past seven months.  And I am extremely grateful for it.  It is the closest thing I will come to a designated writing space.  That is, until I become a “real” writer. 
The Cabin has grown on me.  The comfort of leaving my shoes at the door, the ritual of getting a morning fire going,  and the chance to have a quiet retreat from the beehive, has turned the space into more than I thought it was. I have become dependent on it, and can’t quite imagine writing somewhere else, even if I could buy a mansion.
Our house is not perfect, nor is the little Cabin; but what ever is?  I am just thankful that there is a small, tucked away corner of the world, where I can eat as many pistachios as I want, read books about writing by candlelight, and the only sticky hand prints I will find on my notes are mine.

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