Jane Austen's desk: What's your excuse?

Photograph Eamonn McCabe via the Guardian

One of my most treasured excuses (for everything, but mostly for work) is that my children go absolutely batshit the second I try to get anything done. I dream of a private office, where I can shut the door and have room to think.

That's all I ask for: peace and quiet and room. Instead, at this very moment, the kids have thrown dozens of Hot Wheels all over the family room, my couch is in pieces, and I'm late filing a post for work. Damn it all to hell.

I came across this quote and photo of Jane Austen's writing "desk" -- really, just a miniscule pedestal table -- and this description of her writing conditions (she worked in secret), and well, it puts my very common predicament into perspective.

Having no room of her own, she established herself near the little-used front door, and here "she wrote upon small sheets of paper which could easily be put away, or covered with a piece of blotting paper". A creaking swing door gave her warning when anyone was coming, and she refused to have the creak remedied. (via The Guardian)


She sounds like so many women I know. Things really don't change much.