A Room of My Own, Part III of III

Continued from August 26, 2010 post

When Leslie Marmon Silko was writing Almanac of the Dead, she answered an ad for a housemate. During the day, while her “roommate” was at work and the house was empty, she sat with the spirits and wrote. And when she was done writing for the day, she would leave the room the way she needed and wanted it, close the door, and go home.

Michelle Otero

She told me to rent a room or put up a prefab shed in our backyard. “Stick a swamp cooler in it to keep it cool in the summer.” Before the room rental, she created a quiet writing environment by putting unplugged Bose headphones over her ears to block out sounds from the street or other parts of the house. She said that we writers need soundproof bunkers.

“You can’t make yourself change that part of you,” she said.

She’s right. I can’t. So the day after I returned from Macondo, I called an amiga who has a magic room on the second floor of her house. It is tiny, maybe eight feet by eight feet, but it had what I needed that week—an outlet for my laptop; a wide windowsill for my candle; an east-facing window for staring at the Sandias and bonus south and north-facing windows for cross breeze. It isn’t “mine,” but for a few glorious hours every morning that week, it gave me the quiet, solitude, and stillness I had craved since losing the apartment.

Ginny - Taos 2010, Michelle Otero

Except for a one-year stint with The Wilderness Society, I have always been self-employed, always worked in a corner of my living room or at my kitchen table, close to the coffee of my pre-acupuncture days (see 6/15/10 post) and now the green tea and Pero that enable me to partake in the ritual—if not the high—of coffee; close to my books and my art trunk where I kept old magazines, glue, and poster board for collage to help me unblock when words failed.

I love working at home, love breaking from work to throw out the trash, wash my breakfast dishes, defrost a chicken breast for dinner, or take a quick walk through the neighborhood. There must have been a time when everyone worked at home—the farmer, the blacksmith, the curandera, the poet. Work and home were integrated, an expression of who we are. There must have been a time when the thought of traveling a great distance to earn a living seemed novel or even strange.

La Granja, Henry Rael

Henry bought the nine hundred square foot, cinder block house where we live for the half-acre it sits on. He bought it with the intention of eventually razing it to construct the sustainable adobe house he’s been designing since before we met. It has always included an office for him and now includes a second floor with a meditation area and private writing room for me.

My own room is coming, one that will satisfy my dual need for solitude and access to my art supplies, books, and hot water for tea. In the meantime, I still have access to the magic room, and another friend has offered a space in her house. I like the idea of a community of magic rooms, imbuing my friends’ homes with the spirits who guide the writing of Vessels.

Monte Alban, Henry Rael

I also like Leslie’s idea of renting a room just for me, so I am calling on friends and readers of Vessel to help in my search.

Writer seeks quiet, sunny room in Albuquerque—preferably South Valley—for undisturbed creative expression and hardcore revision. Serious applicants, please post a comment at michelleotero.wordpress.com or send a message via Facebook.

Published in: on August 31, 2010 at 7:29 am  Leave a Comment  

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