Letter to Virginia by Marlowe

Photo by JF Martin on Unsplash


The orange desktop, visible through layers of unpaid bills, renovation plans, tradie invoices and stained coffee mug coasters was once a pristine space. Open and inviting, I would sit there planning what might fill the blank canvas of my pages.

But now, tall bookcases crowd in behind me, shelves bulging with kitchenware that has no home in the partly renovated outer space. Silky green curtains from the children’s bedroom act as place holders for the blinds that should have been ordered sixteen years ago. Behind these is the streaked and wounded roller blind that didn’t make it back unscathed from Dr Drapes (must find the time to write that complaint letter). On the whiteboard in front of me is Part 3 of my novel writing course –all the steps to take to finish the final construction. I’ll rub that off as soon as I start draft 2.

The chair creaks and stutters as I try to roll it across dulled and stained carpet, too lazy to get up to reach for paper behind me.

It always feels crowded in here, but there’s just me … and my ideas.

So, Virginia, I have that room of my own. But I cannot keep it sacred. Real life slides in between the gaps of the closed door, settling itself on the horizontal spaces. I shift things around as though playing Tetris will help me sort and order it all, and make a gap for the writing, but Tetris is a time-waster that makes you feel like you’re doing something intelligent.

It’s not just a physical space we need to work, it’s the mental space to separate from the hard realities of other people’s needs and emotions. It’s the gap between the demands of a job that takes every higher order skill to manage, sapping every ounce of energy, every day – and the open, relaxed and calm space we need for writing. Where was that in your book, Virginia? Oh, I forget. Women didn’t have jobs back then.

Some of us can escape to a cafe, a library, or an open park. I envy them. There is too much

distraction in a public space, too much of interest to watch and file away for a story later on, too many sparks for the imagination. It leaves me with no capacity to concentrate on the craft. On shaping the language to fit the tone, the mood. To copy down what the voice in my head sounds like, capture the colloquialisms, the intonation, to grab that meaning and slather it thickly on the page.

Also, if I do not use that room, will I be letting you down? After all, I have the privilege, I am obliged to make the most of it, n’est pas? For all the writing women with no rooms. With no spaces. With no pens, no paper. I feel them in my room with me, crowding into the invisible gaps, but when I look for them, there’s just me … and my ideas.

Marlowe writes fiction and is working on the second draft of her first novel… in between all else that life offers.