Creative Spaces — Guest Post by Barbara Froman

Creative Spaces


Assorted family photos and a poster-sized framed print of Georgia O’Keeffe’s Music, Pink and Blue #2, painted in 1918.

Classical music from all periods. Today’s selection: Prokofiev’s 3nd Piano Concerto, 1st movement.

I’ve learned to rely on the smiles of those I love for encouragement, and the sights and sounds of other artists as inspiration.  I’ve grown used to the comfort of my soft brown chair, its throw pillows at the small of my back, its hand-tatted antimacassars—elegant lessons on the value of diligence and patience—behind my neck and under my forearms. And I’ve become spoiled by how rapidly and simply lightweight technology saves and edits and puts a wealth of sources at my disposal.  I’m always amazed by how helpless I feel when the electricity goes down—which it does far too often—and all that remains is the glare of night on glass, and the sound of my own breath, At those times, I think wistfully back to my early childhood, when the only encouragement I needed was an idea and the only inspiration, a chunk of free time, As long as I had pencils and paper, and a private space in which to work, I was set.

Because we lived in a small two-bedroom apartment in New York, that space was the bathroom. I didn’t care that its furnishings were cold, its decor spartan, its scent antiseptic; it had what I wanted most: privacy. And so, I would take the tools of my trade inside, and lock the door behind me.

The first time I did this, my mother, who deemed any trip to the bathroom longer than three minutes a sign of trouble, started knocking on the door and yelling, “Are you all right? What are you doing?”

Of course, I told her.  But I might not have, had I known she would share my choice of workspace so proudly:  “And this is my daughter, who writes in the bathroom. Read the nice people a poem, honey.”

Eventually we moved into a bigger apartment where I had a room to myself, without porcelain fixtures. I furnished it with a desk—although I quickly discovered that I preferred the comfort of my bed for creative work, a floor-to-ceiling bookcase (which my brother and I built and painted), a record player, and prints I picked up at the Metropolitan and Guggenheim museum stores.  And I wrote.

Creative Spaces guest post by Barbara Froman

Barbara Froman inspired by music

These days, I feel very lucky to have a room of my own, where I can put tchotchkes, photographs, prints, and animation cels on every surface and wall. I wrote class lectures and screenplays here, and started my blog, Beyond Willow Bend.

This is where I finished my novel, Shadows and Ghosts, and composed a set of pieces for piano duet entitled, Six Variations in Search of a Theme.  And now, I’m digging into an historical novel about two pianists. I have a feeling it’s going to be a difficult book to write, much more so than my last, because of the research involved. But, as long as I can sit in my soft chair, look into the eyes of those I love, see O’Keeffe’s swirl of feminine possibilities, and feel my pulse and spirit quicken to Prokofiev, or Brahms, or Ravel, or Bach, I know the words will be there.

Creative Spaces Guest Post by Barbara FromanBio: Barbara Froman received early training in music at the Juilliard School’s preparatory division before going on to earn degrees in Music Composition at Ithaca College and Northwestern University. She was the Director of Mundelein College’s Creative Writing Program, taught Literature and Creative Writing at National-Louis University, and acted as a consultant to National’s graduate program in Written Communication. She is the author of published essays and poetry, is the recipient of the Serving House Books/Fairleigh Dickinson University First Book Award in Prose, for Shadows and Ghosts, has placed in screenwriting competitions, and was nominated for a Fringe First at the Edinburgh Fringe. She continues to compose music as well as work on a number of new writing projects. Visit her website at: 


  1. Thanks so much for inviting me, Victoria. What great posts! I’m honored to be in such talented and distinguished company!

  2. Victoria M. Johnson says:

    Thank you for sharing your special space with us. I am pleased to get to know you better through this wonderful post. Very charming.


  3. I love how every post in this series so far has made me feel like I’m stepping into the author’s room and being given a tour. Barbara, yours is the same – this is a great insight into your creative space, and wonderfully written! (“The glare of night on glass” made me stop and smile, and think). I especially love your comparisons between past and present, and the determination and practicality you showed by writing in the bathroom!

  4. Thank you for your lovely comments, Rosanna! It was great fun to write the post, and to reminisce. I’m so glad you enjoyed it all!

  5. It took me a number of tries but I finally got my creative writing space just right. My corner desk is surrounded by windows, and like you, I often find inspiration or a brief break by simply looking out

  6. Charli Mills says:

    When I worked full-time, I was grateful for my large office with big sunny windows on the second floor of our company. I’d go home and take whatever space was available, letting my teenagers have my desk, my reading chair, my kitchen table. When they all were out on their own, I experimented like Goldilocks, but nothing felt just right. I left my job, headed to the west and found the perfect space–a ranch house with a huge second story office with big sunny windows. It reminds me of my old work space so it feels like work, yet it is home and has gorgeous mountain views. It was space worth waiting for. Thanks for sharing and inspiring my own thoughts about creative space!

  7. And thank you, Charli, for this comment and lovely description of your space. I feel like I can see you within it, writing away, inspired….

    Bliss! 🙂

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