A Labor of Love :: A Room of My Own

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The year was 1998. The month was November, and I was a couple of days away from turning twenty-four. I was also only a couple of days away from losing the freedom of having a room of my own.

See, my happily-ever-after, or the HEA as I like to call him these days, was getting ready to move into my 425 sq. ft., one-bedroom apartment with me. Young, broke, and engaged, we were hoping to save some money.

I should note here, I’d only lived by myself for one year. Disclaimer. It was the best dang year of my entire life… up until recently.

That was twenty-two years ago. I haven’t had a room of my own in almost twenty-three years. I don’t know why women are expected to be these amazing vessels of love, compassion, brilliance, and let’s not forget… amazing cooks in the kitchen and bedroom. All while having to share every waking moment, and some sleeping moments too, with partners, children, animals, and PTSA members. It’s little wonder I’ve been half crazy for most of my marriage and childrearing years.

Now, I know it sounds like I’m complaining about choices I willingly made. I’m not—not when I know I’m not the only woman who feels this way—I’m just telling the truth. 

The older my family got, the more cabin-fever-crazy I went. The need to have my own defined space hit a powder keg around the time my youngest daughter started middle school, and I had just published my first dark romance novel, Âmes Brisées. It took me FOREVER to write, edit, get it out to beta readers, edit, rewrite, and put it to market. Not because the novel is excessively long—it’s only 370 pages in paperback—nor am I a slow writer. The reason it took me so long to write and release Âmes Brisées was the exact reason I was losing my ever-loving mind.

I’m not proud to admit this, and I hope I don’t sound ridiculous, but I had honestly started contemplating running away from home. Just me, a bag of clothes and my laptop. Not forever, just long enough to write the third book and figure something out about a writing space of my own.

I swear, it didn’t matter what little corner I’d eke out for myself to use as a writing space, it never stayed solely mine for any real length of time. I purchased a computer armoire, second-hand but in great condition, and painted the inside a vibrant green to get my heart chakra open and spinning, as well as to get my creative juices flowing.

I also used gray and white chevron patterned contact paper to add some much-needed style and calming balance to the interior. Y’all! I had way too much fun at Target buying office supplies and cute storage solutions for small spaces. You’d think I was moving into an entire office space with everything I got to outfit my writing cabinet.

I set up my perfect little writing nook; called it my Enchanting Writing Corner. I could sit in my comfy task chair, put my wireless noise-canceling headphones on, and forget I had a family while I lost myself in all things dark romance.

Until the family realized just how enchanting I’d made my little writing corner. The following is not a simulation or parody of events that drove me out of my Enchanting Writing Corner and into my undertaking of my Labor of Love. It’s just the truth…

 

That was the straw responsible for breaking the proverbial camel’s back, her legs, and the taunt string attached to her dwindling patience. I WAS DONE. In the words of Virginia Woolfe in A Room of One’s Own

 

“A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.”

 

I decided that I would have exactly what Woolfe said I needed; a room of my own. Only, this room would not be inside the house I currently shared with my family because I knew if I attempted to do that again, I would be in divorce court or child protective services would be knocking on my door with questions. No, I didn’t want that kind of drama coming to my front porch. What would the neighbors say? The only way to keep my family safe and intact while pursuing my new career as a dark romance writer was to build a room of my own…OUTSIDE. 

We purchased a wooden shed kit from Costco after having to sell the vintage camper trailer we purchased to refurbish and keep as my office in the back yard. I was heartbroken because I loved Beatrice Rose. She was perfect… but my HOA told us–and not so kindly, either, Honey, you can’t keep a camper trailer parked in your backyard. You live in an award-winning planned neighborhood. You’ve got 24-hours to remove it or be fined.

The HEA hired MTD Services, LLC to come out and put the shed kit together for us. That way, we knew at least it wouldn’t fall down around or on top of me. It only took them a couple of days to have the entire building up and ready to be outfitted as my newly minted, Enchanted Writing Cottage.

The Labor of Love Begins

The HEA and I have absolutely no carpentry skills. Repeat… We. Have. No. Skills. We looked at about a million hours of YouTube videos to learn how to do everything from installing insulation and hanging drywall to caulking and putting in vinyl plank flooring. We had my nephew, a licensed electrician, do the electrical work; including wiring and hanging my light fixture in the ceiling. We know our limitations. Honestly, there is just too much to go through all of it and I still want to show y’all exactly how much love and labor went into creating my cottage.

Before I get to the quick video montage, I also wanted to share with you guys some unexpected moments of bliss that resulted from working with my HEA on this project.

Unexpected Marital Benefits from our Labor of Love 

  1. Never underestimate your or your partner’s ability to learn, adapt, and produce anything your mind is able to conceive and your heart is able to believe. You know more than you know you know. Remember to trust yourself and your partner.
  2. Working side by side with your life partner doing what is new and difficult for both of you is its own kind of reward and dare I say, aphrodisiac? It’s the process of being vulnerable with each other and honoring that perfection is an illusion and what’s real is sexier than any fantasy could ever be.
  3. It doesn’t have to look as if Jo and Chip came in and worked their magic. It’s a room of your own, your magic, your creativity…Fill the space with all of yourself and it will be exactly what you never knew you always wanted.
  4. Go cheap! Except for the building supplies, everything in my Enchanted Writing Cottage came from thrift stores (Goodwill), Facebook Marketplace, Five Below, my home, and a few things from Amazon. (I’ll leave the links to the teapot and murphy desk.)
  5. Have fun and laugh, sing, dance, kiss and make out with your happily-ever-after as often as you can. The HEA and I got plenty dirty during the mudding and taping phase of drywalling…in an effort to conserve water, we showered together almost every night we worked in the cottage. (I’m currently looking for our next project. Suggestions are appreciated.)

Please enjoy this little video montage I put together for you. If you want to see the more detailed videos of the entire process, Check out my Instagram IGTV channel.

 

Remember, life is a journey and just because I wander doesn’t necessarily mean I’m lost.  Thanks for being a part of my enchanting life as a romance writer… one enchanted story at a time.

What would your dream personal space look like?

 

 

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Ella Shawn is a contemporary women's fiction writer with a fondness for complex characters and happily-ever-afters. She also produces a podcast aptly named, Enchanted BEAST Podcast where she elevates, encourages, and empowers women to connect with their higher self and live the enchanted lifestyle they deserve to live. And because she's a mommy of three beautiful daughters, she writes for a mommy blog once a month. If she's not writing, podcasting, or blogging; then you can probably find her sitting in her favorite chair with a ball of yarn, her wooden crochet hooks making something bohemian-inspired for her Etsy shop, Browns-n-Barnacles PCD. Ella married the boy she fell in love with during her senior year of high school. They started dating in 1992 and either they both were too lazy to look for other options or were lucky enough to find their happily-ever-after at the age of seventeen. Ella says it the enduring love she shares with her husband that allows her to write romance novels with hard-won HEAs. After developing systemic lupus erythematosus and narcolepsy w/cataplexy, she and her husband decided it was time for her to come home and learn how to live as healthy as possible with the new reality their family was now facing. It turned out to be a blessing, because a few years later, her youngest daughter developed two of the rarest neurological sleeping disorders in the world (Klein Levins Syndrome- a.k.a. Sleeping Beauty Disease and Sighted Non-24). Not only is Vickey able to be at home with her daughter while she attends South Carolina Virtual Charter School and when she goes into KLS episodes, she is also free to pursue her passion as a romance writer, podcaster, and blogger under the pen name; Ella Shawn. Her enchanted platform is an extension of her philosophy of living, loving, and evolving. She writes to gain understanding of the hard choices women often have to make. She endeavors to create enchanted spaces in which to disrobe and see the whole of who she is, and who she isn’t. Vickey shares her journey of self-discovery through writing romance novels, on her podcast, and in her blog. She loves connecting with women who enjoy seeing glimpses of their truth wrapped in sexy happily-ever-after’s. Vickey uses her platform to encourage women to reconnect with their true and essential selves. To cultivate and nurture spaces where they cease being simply women of flesh and bone and become Enchanted Beasts. When she’s not being Ella Shawn, or learning coach, or caregiver, or being taken care of… You may find her painting, crocheting, meditating, or sweating it out in a hot yoga class. But she’s a wild and free spirit who would be just as happy living in a converted van and tooling around the country—sleeping where she runs out of gas. Landing wherever she lands and meeting whoever she meets. However; she’s pretty sure her husband and children wouldn’t be willing to pack up and hit the road with her and, anyway—where would all the piggies go? So, she indulges her nomadic, bohemian spirit with planned travel, mother-cation weekends, and her ever-growing imagination.

4 COMMENTS

  1. I feel this so hard. Sometimes I wonder why men don’t seem to feel this way. My husband has been working from home at our kitchen table for the last two years and is fine with it, but there are days I feel like I’m going to scream if I can’t find a space that’s just for me, no one else allowed. Maybe because being a mom is just such a high touch role? I don’t know, but thank you for sharing. I want a shed now!

    • Alison,
      I think it’s because men have the innate gift of “micro-vision” [pretty sure this is not a real term but… whatever]. Micro-vision- the ability to only see what’s present at any given moment; to the exclusion of anything outside the direct field of vision. We’re the complete opposite and because we are so aware of everything and everyone around us, we do require a sacred space in which to decompress and recharge. A place where no one will ask, tell, show, or touch us. I hope you get your own Enchanted She-Shed and if you do, be sure to share your pictures on our Facebook page.

    • I am Ella Shawn’s HEA and or husband.😀😀😀 I know how hard she works and I wanted a space only for her. I think everyone especially our women need a space of their own. I can’t tell you how much joy I get seeing her do her thing in her own space. She is the spine of our family. I rarely go in there..only to get her to come back inside of the house. I recommend any husband, HEA get one for their significant other.

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