October 4, 2023

When we were growing up, my dad had a section of the basement cordoned off with a brown curtain. My sister and I were not allowed there. Nothing nefarious was taking place – my dad used to have a side-hustle repairing electronics.

When I was talking with him the other day while on my way to the workshop, he was asking how things are going with the move and if we’ve both settled in. I told him that it’s going great but it’s nice to have the shop. I said, “It’s my brown curtain.”

For a while now, I’ve been wanting to write a short story about the brown curtain and what it’s come to symbolize for me. Hell, I’ve been wanting to write more generally. I submitted a short story to the CBC nonfiction writing prize competition about five years ago and not since. An email was sent out last week about submitting for next year’s competition. I think I might.

Writing is a tricky thing. Like any craft, some people have a natural gift for it and others have to hone their talent more intentionally. Either way, practice is necessary. It’s pressing through the difficulty, working iteratively, reworking relentlessly. Writing well is difficult.

I like that I now have my own “brown curtain,” that I have a place to go where I can hide away and tinker with things. Virginia Woolf wrote about women having their own rooms, a place to work uninterrupted, where they can focus on their work. It’s curious how we need to tuck away in order to express ourselves.


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