A Fort of One’s Own, or AFOO (äf OO). That’s what I’ve done here.
“a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.”
This quote rolled around in my head for a few months, since, um, winning an auction where Chuck Wendig will read a few thousand of my words and, um, critique them.
Damn Stephanie, you haven’t done that yet? Wasn’t that in, like, February? Shut it! I’m uninterested your deserved shock about my craptastic time-management skills. Anyway, I have almost 21k words– and a complete plot outline– but if my words were dinner, right now I’m 3 and they are the green beans.
Now, back to AFOO.
Certainly, Virginia and I are women of a different age. I have control over my reproduction (today. Who knows what surprises my whack-ass state legislature plan for Wednesday).
I am not financially dependent on my mate (crap, yes I am because this stay at home mom gig pays in crayon drawings and butt wipes. And love– don’t forget the love).
In the year 2013, unlike 1928, women aren’t harassed for their feminism, regardless of its chosen path. Women are no longer persecuted for their sexuality, sexual identities, or expected to prevent their own rapes (2013 seemed better in my head then I wrote it all out. Excuse me while I weep in my tequila).
Okay, skipping how amazing women have it now– sigh— and back to my point. I type these thoughts on a keyboard and words do whatever they do inside the CPU only to be spit out on my screen. When I hit save draft all of this gets stored…uh, somewhere interweb-like. Probably California.
Like Woolf– who, keeping it real here, suffered from her own early-century, first-world problems, I have the opportunity and the space; the chance to write and to create. The space changes here and there, and some variations are better than others.
But my writing wasn’t limited by a lack of space. I have a drawer of notes scribbled on a variety of different paper-type products. Most of my best ideas did not originate in this space of my own, but rather at stoplights, parks, or during the 14th iteration of chutes and ladders. Never has a lack of a desk stopped me from writing.
So it wasn’t a room that I needed, but permission to abandon what my excuses; reasons for not writing.
No time. The kids. Distractions. Chores. Obligations.
So I took my excuses; reasons and imagined what I’d tell someone complaining TO me about the same. Sheepish, that’s my face right now.
1) No time. Um, facebook. Blogs. Free ebooks that sucked before the end of the first poorly constructed sentence that I READ ANYWAY.
2) The kids. They live here and I have a responsibility for their care. However, they do get to watch some TV, and they are capable of bursts of self-entertainment. Will they interrupt me at some point? Yep, it’s what they do. By reasoning that I could expect a future interruption I found myself goofing off instead. See Item #1.
3) Chores. By the light of the computer monitor, this is an easy one. Either a) do them during the goofing off time from #2, or b) share them! A 4-year-old’s earnest attempt at floor mopping counts as the floor being mopped. Same goes with putting away laundry, doing the dishes, cleaning up the toys. It doesn’t stay clean, because little boys, a big boy, two dogs, a tree frog, and an ADD woman live here. Bonus to the chores– the little ones want a bearded dragon, for which they first need money. Not having to scrubbing someone else’s pee off the bathroom wall? That’s worth a dollar. Them learning the importance of good aim? Priceless.
4) Distractions. These are an adult problem, for me it goes one step further into the clinical. My brain takes a really long to time make it up Motivation Mountain and any interruption sends Engine #9 right off the tracks. Beyond medication, do you know what else helps?
Discipline: to train or develop by instruction and exercise especially in self-control.
For example, I know that opening an internet browser to debate people known to piss me off is like choosing to continue to smoke with your oxygen tank hooked up.
5) Obligations. Meet them and move on. Volunteer for less. Don’t let other people guilt you into things that you don’t want to do. Alternatively, don’t complain about the stuff you have volunteered for. Busy is bullshit, see #1.
I did not need a room (fort) of my own to write, though the autonomy and freedom gained from cast-off curtain sheers made me absurdly happy.
Upstairs? A couch? A bedroom? Pah– I have this fort, this space that I didn’t need, but makes me feel like a unicorn farting rainbows. WITH BUTTERFLIES.
It was intended that AFOO have walls, doors– you know, room-type things. Zach and I even discovered a kick-ass antique stained glass window at the reuse store being ignored by a pack of re-modelers in favor of vinyl. Shudder. But then I thought– walls, who need walls? I ain’t got time for no walls!
I like the carved-out-for-myselfness from behind the curtain. The Being Weird rather than buying mass produced weird.
The once-was-a-box-spring redone into a Mixed Media Abstract Art and Organization Center. No need to be judge-y, it’s a work in progress.
The swelling and explosion of my heart when I re-read The Yellow Wallpaper a few weeks ago. My silent concession to a long-ago professor who told a classroom full of 20ish year old women that they would “get it someday”.
Making silly art from it? With craft paper that I bought a decade ago because it reminded me of the story? Shrug, it’s whom I am.
The refinished desk and credenza.
Yes, I did duck tape my perimeter. You wouldn’t have?
The various objects that touch my soul or delight me with their whimsy. Here are a few.
A friend welded records together for us one year. I hung it from my house’s old television, pre-cable lines. Get it?
Don Quixote, dude. I always run full tilt- if it ends up being at windmills, so what. Windmills are cool, man.
When my office was upstairs, Elliot made me a megablock Duck statue.Last week he redesigned it. A few days after that, I noticed he’d been reading a book:
I totally see it– don’t you?
My space. My choice to create an eclectic, industrially-designed hide-out from the random stuff hanging out in my basement. Added bonus for getting rid of crap in my basement!
Or spray painting stuff from the backyard.
You won’t find a pinned inspiration room, because I didn’t copy someone else’s style.
Furthermore, I encourage more of you to build your own semi-permanent forts. To claim some corner as only yours, a place without toys, or paperwork, obligations, or expectations.
2013: The year adults Take Back the Fort.