If you’re a creative in any art form, you know the need for that special place. You have to have a place to create and refine your art. If you’re a mom, you may need that special place even if you aren’t interested in creating art. Now media are taking note of “she sheds”, the fem equivalent of man caves. These sheds are outdoors. The term may be new, but the concept is old.
It was Brit author Virginia Woolf who formally called attention to the need for a woman’s creative space in her nonfiction book of essays, A Room of One’s Own. The book was published in 1929, almost a decade after women in the US could vote in national elections. I remember discovering that book and realizing I already knew what she proposed. As I contemplated college while I was still in high school, I knew I would need not only a place to write, but resources for living expenses.
Pulling that off wasn’t nearly as hard for me as it would have been in Woolf’s time, but it was hard. In the early years after college, I lived paycheck to paycheck. I worked a job by day and wrote in my free time—on my lunch breaks and at night.
When I lived with roommates or alone, and later with the man I married, I always needed that spot I could claim for my work. That I was I able to do what I loved and get paid for doing so was a remarkable blessing.
The she sheds are outdoor constructs, similar to those man caves you see in sitcoms and ads and such. I like to work outside when I can, both physically and creatively, but I prefer that room of my own to be inside.
I don’t think you really have to be an artist to appreciate the idea of the she shed. My grandmother found her place on the front porch when I guess she’d had enough of us children in her hair inside. I think everyone, male or female, needs a space like that and it can be any size that works for you. One of my favorite writing spaces was an office my husband helped me make in our first home. The house had a side porch that had been enclosed by the previous owner.
We partitioned that enclosed porch with bookshelves. My tiny office was on one side and the washer and dryer were on the other side. There was a big window in front of my desk, and I could see my children as I worked. The wall I faced, containing the window, was made of beautiful granite, cut at a time when homebuilding wasn’t about cookie cutter patterns but involved true craftsmanship.
I like the room I have my writing business in now, except for the color. We’re planning to paint it soon. It’s a holdover color from my daughter’s high school days.
My husband’s space is the pool house. He claimed that as soon as we bought our current home. I’m good with that because sometimes we encounter critters in that pool house that he can handle better than I can.
An article at Wide Open Country featured images of she sheds in various styles, and I have to say those are awesome. We all need a special place of our own, even if we’re in long term committed relationships, and that special place can be as large or small, fancy or simple, exterior or interior—any way you like it because in that space, you rule.
(Kay B. Day/Jan. 15, 2018)