This is the view from my garage; this is the view from my House of Sky. Two summers ago, with the support of a poet friend, I renovated my one car garage into my writer's studio. It is the best decision I've made in a long while. After almost twenty (gasp!) years of writing and publishing poetry, I decided to allow myself a designated writing space. Why did it take me so long?
There are several wild and perhaps helpful aspects of the story I want to share with anyone contemplating their own writing space.
1. It changed my writing. Yes, if I was going to spend money and time to create this magical area, I needed to write better. At least that's what I think happened. The poems I write in this space are palpably different. I seem able to go deeper into my work in this place away from time and space.
2. Renovating the garage - hiring people to insulate the roof and walls, finish the window frames, paint (inside and outside) and put in a gorgeous tile floor was cheaper than getting a small part of the garden landscaped. Really. The entire renovation was under $5,000. Most of this was paid for with a writing award.
3. When I started talking to friends, I found out that many writers have a shed or a garage or some small space away from their house where they write. If we have a room especially for sleeping or eating, why not a room especially for poetry?
4. Saying yes to a writing space was a way of more deeply committing to poetry. There were so many voices in my head that said I wasn't worth such a splurge; that my writing doesn't pay the bills or make me famous. What if I gave up writing and started scuba diving next week. Then what?
The truth is that I feel like I have finally made a life-long commitment to my work. Finally.
5. I had never ever done a house renovation project before. I used Angi's List as a way to feel comfortable with hiring folks and all but one were fantastic. I made changes on how I wanted it to look as I went along. 1/4 of the space is walled off and used for storage. The lovely blue door you see leads to bicycles and garden tools, my sixth grade scrapbook. It was good to leave a little part as it was so I can see how transformation is a real thing.
6. It's still a garage. I purposefully left the gray cement along the bottom of the walls and the electric garage door opener is still in place. I didn't want to get too high and mighty about it all. This magical space is only as good as I make it - and that means writing more and aiming higher.
7. Do you have an old garage with good light? What deserves it more - your car or your writing?