What's your vision of the ideal place to do your writing? Historically, writers have created masterpieces under all kinds of unusual circumstances and in a bewildering variety of spaces. I was interested to learn that many writers had a hut or shed where they could retreat and enjoy a quiet, private refuge.
Photo: Creative Commons
Here is George Bernard Shaw's revolving hut. He called it the 'London' hut, so that if anyone came calling, and he didn't want to be disturbed, they could be told that he was 'in London', and it would be true. The hut was built on a turntable, so Shaw could push it around and always be in the sunshine.
Photo: Geoff Charles/National Library of Wales
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
"It is the loveliest study you ever saw...octagonal with a peaked roof, each face filled with a spacious window...perched in complete isolation on the top of an elevation that commands leagues of valley and city and retreating ranges of distant blue hills..."
Photo: Creative Commons
"I had the gazebo built about 15 years ago, and go through phases of using it, and then I'll abandon it for 5 years, then rediscover it with delight. I love walking to the bottom of the garden, and settling down to write."
Or, like Michael Pollan, you could get really ambitious and build your own writing shed. Here he describes the moment when he decided that he needed a room of his own.
With four workstations, available whenever the library is open, and access to the Toronto Reference Library's extensive collections, this new service is very popular. Writers from across the city have used the room, working on a wide range of projects, including historical fiction, children's books, magazine articles, Canadian artists' biographies and much more.
One of the first writers to use the room describes her experience in this Toronto Star article.
The feedback from our writers has been enthusiastic. Here's what they're saying:
"Quiet time and work space, which is VERY hard to find! Thank you so much!"
"Quiet space for focused research with ongoing access to books held only at TRL."
"Having the space helped me focus."
From one of our most frequent users:
"Easy access to materials without having to pack up my laptop every time I needed to leave my desk; also immediate access to material that if I were working elsewhere, I might be disinclined to make a special trip to the library to consult - this has turned up information that I hadn't been able to find elsewhere."
If you're looking for a 'room of your own' to work on your own masterpiece, with access to invaluable research material, look no further than the Toronto Reference Library. Information and the application form are available online. We'd love to be able to claim that the next Great Canadian Novel was written right here at the library!