Story telling from Australia
“A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction…I would ask you to write all kinds of books, hesitating at no subject however trivial or however vast.”
Virginia Woolf, 1928.
I’m so glad Virginia Woolf wasn’t against trivia, it makes me feel a whole lot better about the forthcoming release of Love in the Outback. She was right to point out that you shouldn’t write books in the anticipation of earning any money too, and you do, absolutely, need a room to call your own.
My room is a brick built storage shed, two metres by three metres and divided in half. Garden tools, pots of paint, leftover tiles and discarded DIY projects are stored in one side, the other half is mine.
The bare brick walls are painted white, the floor is clad in some of those leftover tiles and there’s a rat living in the rafters. I’d like to think it’s a mouse but the scampering feet sound far too heavy for that. Several delicate spiders object to my taking up residence and so far they’ve been regularly rebuilding their flimsy webs that, each morning, I just as assiduously brush away. A small metal window overlooks the patio at the back of the house; it screeches when you slide it open.
In the garden bed directly below the window I’ve planted a lemon tree, fast growing lettuce, ivy, tomatoes and (here’s optimism for you with only two months of summer left) several honeydew melons. A small hybrid tea rose sits in the middle of the bed, directly beneath the window. Three tiny buds will I hope, in a few weeks’ time, unfurl yellow blooms tinged with the faintest pink and waft their heady scent into my room.
The desk stretches the length of the room, a generous slab of worn timber left behind by the artist, Klin Sullivan, who once lived in this house. I thank her for the indelible stains of creativity etched into its painted surface. It’s a fine desk to work at.
Behind me is a bookcase, above me a fluorescent tube of light and beside me on the floor lies Maggie, sleeping on a grubby patch of old carpet.
There’s an inexplicable hole in the wooden door, which someone long ago painted the khaki green of an army camouflage unit, and the window is covered with a length of fabric, held fast to the top with bulldog clips. It keeps the sun out when Sydney swelters, as it did yesterday on a steamy thirty-three degree day that saw photocopy paper wilt in the printer. Clyde says I’ll need air conditioning. He’s right of course, but for now there’s just enough space to tuck a fan against the far wall.
I love this room. I wouldn’t change a thing.
I miss the silence and space of Broken Hill, and I suspect I always will, but this room is the equivalent of finding a strawberry growing in the desert.