As most literary students are surely aware, Virginia Woolf’s two conditions for the prosperity of women’s writing is that a writer must have an income and a room of her own. My income is something of an iffy thing, and tied to the promise of research and writing in the academic vein, but I do have a room of my own. The problem is, this room is for sleeping and watching series. I have tried writing in it, and the only thing that seems to make this endeavour successful is a next-day deadline and an unfinished assignment.
However! As mentioned, with a Master’s status comes an office space, and this generally entails a little room somewhere in the halls of the Rhodes English Department. I now have an official-type room of my own. The only problem is that I officially share this official space with two other people.
That being said, I am currently sitting in my office quite alone and I have not encountered either of them in here since the beginning of the year. I have received a nice, welcoming note, but other than that I’ve only briefly met them in the common room and around the department. So, for all intents and purposes and until further notice, I have the room to myself. This somewhat renders the tips I looked up on peaceful office sharing useless, but I will keep them in mind if the occasion arises.
It is a tiny space for so many people. The room is small and rather narrow, with a door at one end and windows at the other. When you turn on the lights, they make a sound like rats scuttling against piping. There are two desks, one bookcase, a whiteboard, computer and an armchair that someone has pleasantly draped with a knitted quilt. One of the tips I did follow (in my great excitement to move into my office) was of carving out my own little space. When I arrived there was only one desk in the room and it had already been claimed. This turned out to be a lucky consequence, because I obtained a different desk and this one has – tadatada! – drawers. It has more drawers (and better functioning ones) than my desk at home. So many drawers (3) that I have hardly the things to fill them with. The top drawer has a keyhole, and if I had secrets of the material kind, this is where I would stow them. Unfortunately, I have neither those nor a key for the keyhole, but the vague possibility remains.
I was planning to have some live plants in my office – the prospect of life depending on my going there seemed like a good incentive to get there and, once there, to work. For this purpose I chose a ‘Grow Your Own Sunflowers’-kit that guaranteed growth (previous experience with gardening led me to believe I need all the guarantee I can get). The problem is that the big tree outside the window, a la ~
blocks out all of the lovely South African sun that my sunflowers are sure to need. I am rethinking this part of the plan, and whether I am really fit to look after a living thing that does not purr.
In the mean time, I will be collecting various odds and bits to take into my office. I have some tea here already, but I think I shall need coffee, a special mug (to be obtained) and a spoon. I also need several office-appropriate pictures that I would like to gaze at between readings. At the moment, I’m still searching for those, but I’m hoping to find some nice Gothic images that do not include tight, black Victorian dresses, copious amounts of eye-liner and weird green clouds. For the moment, all I have to really mark out my presence is New York skyline candle holder and a few of my books.
So it is an almost room of my own in a number of ways, but I’ll get there. I’m starting tutorials next week, and then the fun really begins. In the mean time, I am enjoying the little space. I’m sure I might come up with a few office-related tips as I settle in and use it more, but I would love to know how other people approach this kind of thing. How do you decorate or set up your working space to make it your own?