I read Virginia Wolff’s A Room of One’s Own while in university (my first degree was in theatre and I was twenty years old) and it changed my life. I longed for a room like the one she describes in her book, a place just for me, a space that contains all of my creative dreams. A place I could go and write all day. It would be many years, and many desks and spaces, before I would feel that I had found “a room of my own”. I always wanted to be a writer, my whole life. But I was always too afraid to admit it, fearing that if I let anyone read my stories, they’d laugh in my face and tell me they weren’t any good.
So, I did theatre instead. Yes, just as frightful (people to scrutinize your talents all the time) but somehow it felt safer than letting people read my work. I became an actor, then an artistic director and arts administrator running my own theatre company. But four years ago, my body began telling me I was pushing too hard- running a company solo for ten years is not an easy thing- and stress was literally killing me. I was getting pneumonia at least once a year and my marriage was falling apart. I decided to save my marriage and my health and so I closed down the company and we moved to Hamilton. The plan was to take a year for both my husband and I to engage with our creative selves. The windfall from the sale of our house in Toronto was supposed to make that happen for us. Our new house had so many more bedrooms than the one in Toronto. I chose my room, imagining myself spending hours of my day writing my plays and novels. But, as is the case when one is too afraid to jump, I was offered an arts administration job in my new city and so I took the job. Fear has a funny way of gripping you in its hold.
I was once again putting budgets together, making other artists’ dreams come true and I was denying the one person I should have been putting first, myself. I craved writing and going into my new room to create, but I was always too tired. I lasted three years and then I broke. I told my husband I needed to go back to school and get my MFA in Creative Writing or I was going to lose my mind. I even showed him a page from my journal that I had written over fifteen years previous, even before I’d met him, where I wrote, I want to get my MFA in Creative Writing or I am going to die.
I am about to graduate from the MFA program at Guelph this year. I have written five plays and several short stories, one of which is in this publication. It is a struggle every day to go to my computer and write. It doesn’t come easily for me. Writing is one of the hardest things I have ever done. But I love it so much. And I would rather do this than anything else in the world. And just this past summer, my husband helped me to repaint and re-organize my room. It is now the room I have always wanted. It holds all of my cherished books- plays, books on writing, poetry books, short story collections and the literature that I love, books by Marquez, Cortazar, Bolaño, and Allende. It has a couch where my dog Saga lies while I write and where my children come in to draw and talk to me about their days. The wall where my desk leans against is a beautiful pink and on the walls of the room are posters and creative designs of my plays. Oh, and I can’t forget the large poster of Frida Khalo that hangs just to the left of me, above my computer. Frida’s energy inspires me. And when I am feeling stuck, I’ll get up and do some yoga or lie on my floor to think out the plot of my stories. I have finally found my place , my room, where I can make all of my dreams come true.