I have tried very hard through the years to establish an office in our home. With five kids, this is no easy task. For a while, I inhabited a little nook off the laundry room. But the area preceding it became overrun with laundry and I couldn’t think.
Later, I cleaned all that up and tried to organize things and moved out further from the little nook, still in the same long room where the laundry facilities are, at a long table that served as my desk, near a window…but it soon became similarly disorderly around it and I couldn’t think.
I later took over our family room, and for a while that worked. It was my haven. Until a neighbor started some odd behavior and I could no longer open the shades wide and enjoy that space as much as I had. Then the kids broke the TV upstairs so the only one they could watch was in my office, and slowly, I got bumped…again.
I am still waiting for the tried and true “room of her own” where I can sink in and feel at ease. Every time I think I have it, it eludes me.
So when I was looking for a new cover photo for my Facebook page recently, this jumped out at me, for reasons I will shortly reveal.
Introducing the bedroom of Flannery O’Connor, taken with my own camera this past summer during my writer journey to Georgia.
I think my two travel companions would agree. This room held us absolutely spellbound. It didn’t just sit there being; it spoke to us.
Toward the end of her life, this became Flannery’s sanctuary. Some of her best work was written here, much of it in bed when it was hard making her way around the house, flitting about freely.
“I have been at home a week and feel I’m getting somewhere. I have to stay in these two rooms but R. has got me the table with the electric typewriter on it put so I get out of bed into the typewriter, so to speak, and every day I am able to do a little more,” she wrote in June, 1964 (Habit of Being).
As the lupus took over (thus, the crutches), this became the place where Flannery spent so much of her time. Her world had become so very small, but her writing, so very rich.
“I’ve had four blood transfusions in the last month,” she wrote around that same time. “The trouble is mostly kidneys – they don’t refine poisons out of the proteins & therefore you don’t make blood like you should or you lose it like you shouldn’t or something. As far as I’m concerned, as long as I can get at that typewriter, I have enough…”
I, too, have become relegated at times to sitting on my bed, propped up with pillows, writing away in the small cell of my room. This occurs even on days when the kids are at school and my “office” is once again available, but, as it turns out, has been left a mess by the leprechauns.
Resigned, I head to the bedroom and curl up. I say my morning prayers, check in with social media if time, then roll up my shirt sleeves – often pajamas – and get to work.
When I posted this on Facebook as my new cover photo, I knew very few would know of its significance, other than my fellow Flannery friends. When I mentioned this during a three-way phone conversation this afternoon, we giggled about it – how some might erroneously assume it is my bedroom.
But then they might wonder about the typewriter. That made us laugh more, because, of course, I haven’t used an actual typewriter in years.
Back in Flannery’s day, one of her most cherished gifts was a television set some religious sisters gave her for helping them with their manuscript. Flannery had as much fun watching the ridiculous commercials as anything, and gleefully critiqued each one. Sounds like my kind of girl!
All this to say, considering how Flannery’s bedroom became a cocoon of sorts to her, carrying her from one life to another in a sense, and that I, too, often hole up in my bedroom when writing, it becomes clearer why this photo pulls me right in. I look at it and it’s like I am visiting Flannery all over again, and there she is in bed, waving me in for a spell, asking me to stay a while.
I’ve seen it with my own eyes, and I delight in it with Flannery, knowing it was her sanctuary, and that no plush accommodations in the world could take the place of that little spot where she could go into the deepest part of herself, and come out with a masterpiece of the imagination.
Q4U: Where do you find “home” in terms of space for your writing groove?