The Space to Write

(A.K.A: Get Your Act Together You Spoilt Brat!)

I have ostensibly a ‘room of one’s own’. In the home I share with my husband, I have turned the spare bedroom into a study and in my Ma’s home – which I visit frequently – I have my own bedroom. But lately, none of these have afforded me the mental space to write at all.

At this very moment there are three noisy urchins (3 sisters of age 12, 10 and 8) ringed around me in the bedroom in my mother’s house (Ma’s adopted a family as usual). Play-acting for my benefit, staring at me with wide, wondering eyes, and then edging closer to my work table to sneak touches at my notebook and pens. Did I also mention the presence of a dozen cantankerous canines in that house?

All this makes epic composition very difficult.

This is an aberrant circumstance, not normal but perhaps symptomatic of a larger malaise. Writer’s block, an excruciatingly slow recovery from a major burn-out and a psyche that demands perfect conditions (a thought process guaranteed to stop any writing) to produce its elusive masterpieces. It demands also an alone, enclosed, fecund, compact space where I can go happily mad giving frantic birth and shape to stories, characters and worlds.

The trouble is I can almost taste what that feels like! I need a space to be able to protect the stories, to keep myself immersed in the world of the story and then write them. Rude reality has a way of wiping my mind clean, making the ordinary flood my brain so the atmosphere of the story-world, that resonant tone which is my connection to it, dissipates…

My actual writing process is also one I need complete aloneness for, you know. I essentially almost act-out a scene, put myself in the situation, let the feelings, the dialogue occur naturally in my mind, say it almost out loud, and only then write it. So it feels real. It’s also helpful to have a mirror around, to practice facial expressions on and then put them on the page. In some way, it’s play-acting but the very reverse of acting.

This is a very private process, it’s a vulnerable process. I need to be able to be silly and mad and strange; journey to dark and mysterious spaces and not scare my family half to death while doing so. I need a ‘safe’ space, like an enclosed globe of stillness where the story becomes all, all to myself.

I have had that once in my life, when I started writing Uma, and it was wonderful. I was 17 or 18 and we lived in a tiny flat, me and Ma, but I had an equally tiny room that was all mine, it was bedroom and work-room and study and library and the very walls resonated with ideas! It was my cocoon. Ah! To be young again.

I would stay-up all night and write! The ideas, so intense, so real! Magically appearing! The magic combination of words would flow in a rush. It was a rush! I’d pack-up only around dawn, tired but elated and sleep for a few fitful hours and then turn up late for college everyday! Good times.

I still have that as my ideal in my mind. All these rooms I have at the moment – don’t quite seem to qualify.

But I’m trying, trying so much!

Do you have an ideal work space you yearn for? What is it like? Have you been able to achieve it? If not, how are you managing?

(Have you faced anything like this? What did you do to become creative again?)


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