My Pop-Up Studio

the desk in the guest room

Ever since the very first day I became serious about my writing (about 8 years ago), I’ve been dreaming about a studio. An office, a room of my own, a place exclusively dedicated to my writing work, where only I had access, so I could leave my notebooks lying around without worry that anyone would accidentally read them. In my imagination’s eye, this space is cozy but stylish (in a retro-shabby way), filled with light coming from a large window  which offers the additional bonus of an inspiring view. Piles of books, photo albums, bunch of notes cover most of the free surfaces, post-its with summaries of the scenes I’m developing hang in colourful patterns on the walls alongside photos, magazine clippings with articles pertinent to my newest projects. The solid but slim desk is of course the heart of the studio, with its perfect writing chair (ergonomically shaped in Scandinavian wood), but my favourite place secretly is the soft armchair in the corner, with the lamp next to it, the warm plaid draped at its feet, my reading nook. Of course there is also a plant or two, a candle here and there, some nostalgic frames displaying the sheepish smiles of past lovers. Nothing fancy, as you can see.

Well, in my eight years as an on-and-off professional writer, I did not yet manage to make this dream come true. And because it’s far from fading (actually, since becoming a mother, I’m increasingly desperate for it), I’ve listed it as one of the goals I would like to achieve during my time as an Artist In Residence in Motherhood.

Motivated by this public statement, shortly after my Residency began I started looking around for a suitable location. I even found a couple of interesting places not far from home, maybe without exactly the kind of window I see in my fantasies, but decent and practical and clean. Then, I looked into my wallet and promptly landed back on my ass and into the world of things real. No matter how fervently I wish for it, I cannot afford to rent a studio, I cannot afford to furnish a studio, I cannot afford half of the photo albums and books I’d like to have in the studio, not the armchair, not even the desk. Also, I cannot afford to have proper, daily daycare for my son while I sit there, sip good coffee, and think up stories.

I could have let myself be discouraged by this notion, and at first I did. But then I decided to make a thought-exercise and asked myself – WHAT IF it were not me being at fault for not earning as much as I’d need to have my dream-studio, but what if it were the dream to be the one at fault for making me think I’m not good enough a writer to afford its cozy premises? What if the studio-dream were only another way in which I self-sabotage my work and my creative self-esteem?

So I looked around. And specifically, I looked at the guest bedroom – the place where we collect all the things that don’t have a place anywhere else, and where we put my parents when they come visit. I looked at it and saw that if I shifted around some furniture and threw out a couple of boxes, I could make it work. In a corner of the garage I found my rickety first-ever desk, cheap as fuck and not too pretty either (I bought it seven apartments ago, when I decided I was going to be a real writer and thus needed to have something to write on), and in less time than one afternoon nap, my pop-up studio was set. Next, I called my friend who is mother to two delightful boys aged 10 and 12, and said that if they’d feel like coming over to play with my Toddler for a couple of hours, say, three mornings a week while I wrote upstairs in my “studio”, I would repay them with a bit of pocket money, my eternal gratitude, and all the cookies they could bear to eat.

They accepted and this is how, in the past month, I got SO MUCH writing done, in a studio that looks nothing like the one I’m dreaming about, and thanks to the generosity and will to play of two young boys. And yes, the desk still sucks and I get my elbow entangled in the drying laundry while I write, but I don’t mind, as long as I do write.

And by the way – sharing my pop-up studio with the laundry rack has proven to be surprisingly inspiring. Yes, to the point I’ve started a whole project in which the laundry holds the main role. It’s not a joke, I’m actually quite excited about it – because who says that The Laundry is not special enough to make a good story? Certainly not me.


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Marta Parlatore is currently an Artist in Residence in Motherhood – find out more on the official ARiM website. Subscribe to this blog to never miss a post and support the author with your priceless moral encouragement.

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2 thoughts on “My Pop-Up Studio

  1. Congratulations! I am struggling to start a new (any, to be frank) singing project. Hope I get inspired by your writing and finally do it too.

    • Power to you Mama! But also, if I may offer some advice, be gentle with yourself. I’ve been always so frustrated with how motherhood “robbed” me of time and freedom and room to write that whenever I finally got a chance to do something I pushed myself so hard I actually ended up making it worse. So, go slow. It takes time, plenty of time, and it’s OK that it does 😉

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