About Me

Saturday, 5 November 2016

A Room Of One's Own - why writers need their restorative niche

By Olivia Levez
I have a hectic people-filled day job.
My days are filled with corridors, metal lockers, scraping chairs, bags on floors, shoving on stairs, shrieks in playgrounds, banter, banana peel, homework-groaning, yawning, sighing, catcalling, laughter, humming projectors, hushing, complaining, tapping, flicking, shushing, crisp-eating, phone-buzzing, arguing, explaining, giggling, fire-drilling, bell-ringing...
So, when it all ends, I just want peace.
I am a teacher in a big secondary school, and I fit my writing in when I can. Impossible on a school day, probable at a weekend, and wonderfully possible in a school holiday.
I write in bed, when I'm at home, but when I can, I escape to my own little writer's paradise: my caravan by the sea in West Wales.

It isn't much, but it's mine. And it's a place where I can focus only on writing, and all that hectic hubbub of family, job, housework gets filtered out. There's no internet and no mobile reception, so that means no Twitter, no Facebook, no Instagram, no constant checking of my phone. If I need to call home, I have to walk up two lanes, where the view over the gorse hedge looks like this:
And somehow, looking at that view, the way the cornflower blue ocean turns milky where it touches the sky; smelling the wafts of coconut and honey from the gorse, and watching the wild violets tangle with the bluebells, my mind calms and a little bit of magic happens: I start to get ideas for my story and plot knots unravel.
I have found my restorative niche. Ideas flow. My word count grows.
So this post is homage to all writers and their dens. And also to George Clarke and his Amazing Spaces, because don't all writers want and need one? (George Clarke, if you're reading this, I'd like you to build me a tree house or hobbit hole. Please.)
We all know the familiar sight of Roald Dahl's writing shed...
And Dylan Thomas' boathouse at Laugharne...
There's Will Self's Post-it filled attic in South London...
And Stephen King's cluttered man-space...
But whether it's an empty desk, an upcycled shed or a Cupboard Under the Stairs (yes, I've always been envious of HP's first den), I believe that all writers need their own space to create, dream and shut off the noise of the pushing, shoving world. In Susan Cain's words (her book, Quiet, is a Bible for writerly, reflective types that need to escape once in a while. Read it.) you need your 'restorative niche'.
I've found mine. What's yours?

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