I have needed buzz and thrum and noise to write. That pulse and pace of city life: not quiet, but a noisy bar. A busy street. But I have also said that these things must come free of interruption—lively, but not obtrusive. In bars, my favorite noisy place, you can’t be free of folk coming up to you, addressing you directly. It’s detrimental, in the end, to your writing. Detrimental to the flow of your ideas. It pushes them aside, moves them around, sends them diving back into the underbrush, into their burrows where they hide and can’t be flushed out again.
Virginia Woolf said in her extended essay, A Room of One’s Own, that the female writer of fiction needs two things in order to perform her craft: money, and a room of her own. Money grants education, freedom, choice, and independence. Though scrapping and scraping, many female writers have these benefits today. But the thing which allows writing to flourish, privacy, is lacking. A bar can’t give that to me. The paper thin walls of my bedroom are no protection from the fact that my home is Grand Central Station, and there is a knock on my door every so often, “Come out and join the party.”
Joining the party is vital. But so is the space between to digest. Even enjoying the snap and spark of public writing, I am still public property, to be ogled and chatted up, a sex object trying to have a private life. An overstatement, but it is the underlying core—modern America still expects female availability. And that is exactly what I need to escape. I need to turn off the cell phone, I need to not be the shoulder to cry on. I need to turn off chat, worrying that some dear friend may need me. I need a shield from leches male and female, the ones who cat call and hit on when you least want it, when you give every social signal to be left alone. In more a metaphorical sense than anything else, I need a room of my own.