Privilege & Writing: time, space, and focus of mind


I read A room of one’s own the summer of 2003. I swear I did. Read every single word, turned every single page, until the novel was over. Was it even a novel? (According to wikipedia, no it was not).

I remember none of it. 

Not because I read it nearly fifteen years ago. But because sometimes I read things because I think I should. Because it’s important. Because it would make me look smart, if only I could remember the details of whatever I read. 

I can read an entire book and not actually read it. I can read each word and not absorb what words mean, strung together in sentences and paragraphs, in a collection that makes a novel. As a reader, as an author, I feel like this is some sort of confession. A dark secret that we shouldn’t actually admit that it is possible to read and not read. I didn’t even set out to write the blog post about reading habits. I wanted to write about the notion of “a room of one’s own” without truly feeling like I have actually even read the book. Have I? What qualifies as reading?

So, now that we are on the same page that I most likely have not actually read A room of one’s own, let me attempt to tell you what I think about the notion of “a room of one’s own”. *I know* I see what I’m doing here too. 

The space to create, the distance from reality, the freedom to create—as female, as person of color, as person of means, as luxury, as privilege.

Having a room of one’s own to write and create is such a f*ing privilege. I know this. 

I am one who needs a state of silence to get to that place where immersion into character, time, place, feeling happens. My neighbor’s radio? A total distraction. Instrumental background music? A killer of creativity. The low rumble of the dryer tumbling downstairs? Possibly okay. Better with the door closed. All doors closed.

To command such a time, and place, and silence is a luxury and privilege—unacknowledged privilege.

Maybe you can write with four roommates binge watching House of Cards outside your bedroom door. Maybe you can write for the twenty minutes between putting your kids to bed and putting yourself to bed. But whatever the state we command that enables us to write, whatever the state we garnish—we are so lucky. To find the time, and place, and focus of mind to be able to write—this is privilege.