Where I Write

Where I Write
A room of My Own

January 13, 2014

Write Yourself into a Free House

The writer Virginia Woolf was famous for her statement that a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction. That need an artist has for a place of one's own, a space to create, is true not just for women who write, but any person yearning to do something that uses his or her creative talents be it crocheting, or dancing or painting birdhouses. It's nice to have a room where you can stretch your imagination and play with paint or clay or words or whatever turns on your creative juices.

Detroit has taken the idea of having one's room of one's own to a new level. An organization called writeahouse.org plans to fix up and give away entire houses to emerging writers. An old friend from Detroit told me about this, and I was intrigued. Free houses to writers, now that's something you don't hear every day. Writers nowadays seem either to be paying to have their work published or writing for free.

Okay so it's not Beverly Hills or Manhattan.  It's not even Phoenix.We all know Detroit has had it's share of problems which is why this literary organization is hoping to refurbish abandoned homes, like this once stately brick bungalow, and give them to worthy writers with the hope of reestablishing once thriving neighborhoods. From blight to bright, or so they hope.

Writers don't need to be from Michigan to apply. Those that apply have to show some financial need, live in the house they are granted for two years, blog about their experience (I could do that part), and basically be a pioneer. It's like the homesteading of early America except people won't be chopping down trees or planting crops, but instead writing in a once great city that has fallen on hard times. The entire experience could be a book in of itself.

 Here's the inside of one of the houses that's going to be given away, plenty of room for a writer to work. Virginia would be pleased. The application process is pretty straightforward. Writers are asked to submit copies of their work and a judging committee of famous writers is being assembled. Write A House is still working out the details.


I love old houses and I'm glad some people in Detroit don't want to just demolish the buildings as the did in the photo above. This photo pretty much sums up how I think of Detroit. Still, I imagine a writer could get a lot of work done living in a place where he or she is unfamiliar with anyone or anything. I get distracted all the time by my social life, and before you know another day has gone by without me writing anything but emails or facebook posts. Maybe I could get that book done in Detroit. I have a feeling a lot of writers who apply might be thinking of the same thing: a room of one's own with minimal distractions.

It is said there are more than 78,000 houses in Detroit that have been abandoned. Now if all those houses were filled with writers, or artists of any kind, I'd like to think Detroit could blossom again. Okay maybe I'm to full of optimism, but why not bring a once great city back to life with the help of the written word. I hope the folks at writeahouse.org succeed. Check out their web site. It's interesting if nothing else. I have dear friends from Detroit and I know they are sad what has happen to their city, but I'd like to think it's not dead yet.


This is a photo of the writing table where Virginia Woolf would sit and write. She had a lovely view. All she needed was a table, a pen, and some paper. Really.. that's all a writer does need. And quiet and space.   Her view was looking out into the lush green of England. Maybe those writers who will get the free houses in Detroit will be gifted this view of a city that just might flourish again thanks to the written word. Detroit at night..

2 comments:

Rita A. said...

I saw this awhile back. What an amazing concept. Maybe other cities will follow suit. Especially in a warm climate. Thanks for sharing.

cbwentworth said...

I've seen this around facebook. It's a creative way to fill those houses, but I don't think a free house would be enough to make me go to Detroit. What a mess!