Gwen Strauss

Keeping Track

A room of one’s own.

August 15, 2016

Tags: writing, writer's rooms, poetry

It was spoiled of me. Self-indulgent. I thought I should be able to write anywhere and at anytime and I would not trick myself with stupid rituals and all the other trappings of « being creative. » Also the Bukowski poem, space and light, echoed in my head.

But Bukowski was a white man with few responsibilities, not a mother.

Without a room of my own, I was writing. But there was the constant interruptions. My desk was where I pay the bills and where the banality of everyday life collected in doom-filled to-do lists. My desk was in the bedroom I share with my partner. He often slept longer and I had to wait for him to exit the room.

I get up early when everyone else in the house is asleep usually occupying all the other rooms besides the kitchen (as I type this : my mother is in her bedroom, my partner where I have my desk, two children sleep in another room, another child has taken over a fourth room, and the final child sleeps on a fold-out couch in the living room).

I want to be alone in some space that holds only me and my thoughts. I wander around the kitchen and the yard thinking, can I write here ? I tried a few times in lawn chairs, at the kitchen table—but then others woke up, come in, ask for coffee, and again distraction. Life. Tasks. Planning meals. Transportation.

So I have decided to indulge myself.

I was going to buy a garden shed. I saw a picture of Roald Dahl in his. I looked online and searched…But garden sheds are not really cheap. Plus complications with the sloping ground of the yard and electricity.

Then I remembered my garage (really just an area where a bamboo roof slopes away from the wall of the house). But in one corner there is a tiled roof and an extra wall to keep out the rain and wind. I have years of stuff piled in storage in this corner because there is also a cement floor.


Six trips to the dump.
Cleaned the corner out and imagined the space into being.

All it needed was one low wall with a large window facing east : morning light.
One wall with a door (which locks) facing south.
The other two walls, north and west, were already there.
A little insulation on the ceiling, a few coats of paint.

A room of my own.


  1. March 5, 2017 2:14 PM EST
    YOU deserve this personal space!
    May this room be filled with generous spirits of love and guidance as you continue to offer up the most wondrous stories of history and freedom. Listen to the voices and your heart! (and lock the door! ) Much love, Uncle Jack and Bonnie!
    So very very proud of you!
    - John R. (Jack) Harrison

Selected Works

Juvenile Nonfiction Ages 7-10, Grades 2-5
The True Story of a young Holocaust survivor
Children's picture book
In the early 1950s, newly built interstate highways invited Americans to travel by automobile, but the open road wasn't so open for African-Americans, especially in the South.
Until he meets Marcia, Eric doesn't speak -- the Night Shimmy does all the talking.
Strauss explores the theme of metamorphosis in fairy tales in this collection of poetry.
a series of poems in the form of a sonnet garland
Kay koule twompe soley men li pa twompe lapli. A leaky house can fool the sun, but it can't fool the rain. --Haitian Proverb
The adventure story of a young couple who sail to the Yucatan

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