In this month’s Brigitte Woman (for women over 40) magazine (in German) there is an article about women choosing to have room of their own: either as a place to go to work far from the intrusion of home life or a place to escape to from the stress at work or home. This reminded me of my treasured kitchen office cum writing atelier that I had a while back.
When the children were really small, I did my writing (scripts for women computer games) on the computer in our guest room. That worked out very well. Eventually, the children grew older and more mobile and Nomad Son moved into the guest room as a permanent resident. The fact that they could or did interrupt me all the time (now on the living room computer) made me feel very closed in creatively.
I yearned for a room of my own. My usually very patient, indulgent, and sympathetic husband (aka the Limpet of Luebeck) could not understand why I wanted to physically remove myself from the family to write. Hang up a sign, close the door, wait till the kids are in bed, it’s a luxury we can’t afford, were the arguments he used whenever I started on the topic of finding a writing atelier. And after arguing the matter over the years, I really wasn’t sure whether what I yearned for was to be physically separated from the family and in the womb of my own solitary room, or just permission to be emotionally distanced and intellectually removed from the banal draining day-to-day demands.
Fortunately, I found out the answer to that question and it is the physical distance and a solitary room I was yearning.
A good friend of mine, a management consultant and business coach, had an office in an old (1678) building with a sunny back courtyard. She offered to give me the use of a kitchen she had across from her office that she didn’t use. She didn’t have to ask me twice before I was moved into her kitchen in no time flat.
It was the most beautiful room: a monastery cell with a computer, a small stereo and a view onto the courtyard. I loved it. I worked tremendously hard and well there. No phone. No Internet. No communication with the outside world: except a cell phone for emergencies that only Limpet, Nomad Son, and Nature Girl knew the number of. Occasionally, my friend would come in to make a pot of tea in between her appointments. We’d chat about her work or my work and then, ping the water boiled, the cookies were finished and she’d gracefully retreat back into her office.
A few years later I discovered that I no longer needed the physical distance, for the children were old enough not to worry when I am intellectually removed; they knew I’d “come back” in a good and beholding mood once I had written what I needed to write. And, so I gave up my kitchen office.
While I had it though, it was heaven, my creative oasis. I can highly recommend such a retreat to anyone working from home or with young children. It doesn't really matter whether you want to work or just curl up and read a good book, we all deserve a bit of peace and quiet.