Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Lion City Lit: Woolf Works

Asian Books Blog is based in Singapore.  Lion City Lit explores literary life in our own backyard.  This week Raelee Chapman visits Woolf Works, a coworking space dedicated to women, and named after Virginia Woolf, who famously declared, in her extended essay A Room of One's Own, that women must have a space of their own to produce art. 

Where does a woman go to write if she cannot write at home? There are myriad reasons why writing at home can be complicated, and full of distractions. So I was curious when a writer friend of mine told me about Woolf Works, and I went along to an open day - a chance for women to bring their moleskin notebooks and laptops and explore the space.

Michaela Anchan, from New Zealand, founded the space on the second floor of a renovated shophouse in in Joo Chiat, in July 2014 and has made it a haven for female writers and bloggers. She opened the space as she saw a need for women to work productively out of the home: “As a mother to young kids I struggled with finding the mental space to get longer focused periods of work done. It was all too easy to attend to the needs of the rest of the family first and put my own work last.”

Michaela is keen to attract more writers, and to establish a community of female writers, supporting and critiquing each other. The space also has an upper attic area, The Den, which is suitable for workshops, small critiquing groups, book clubs, book launches, and poetry slams.

By mid-morning ten or more women had streamed in to view the space and all were sitting comfortably and quietly in the communal work areas tapping away at their laptops and enjoying the excellent coffee.

Shasta Grant, an American living in Singapore, uses the space two mornings a week. “I love the design - it's beautifully decorated - very mellow (but upbeat) and minimalist. I find my time here is super productive.” Shasta is currently finding an agent for a memoir while working on some essays and short stories. She has forthcoming work in Cream City Review, Jelly Bucket and Wigleaf. 

Clarissa N G heard about Woolf Works via Twitter. She told me: “As a mother of two young children, it’s not always conducive to work from home and coworking seems like an obvious alternative.” Clarissa is working on a magic-realism novel and has work forthcoming in The MacGuffin Fall 2014 Issue.
Like me, Malaysian writer Wan Phing  was there for the open day: “Today was my first time at Woolf Works, and I will definitely be back! It is very conducive to working. The tables are well spread out with plenty of socket points. The long benches are cosy, and a seat by the window will ensure lots of inspiration! With lots of things to eat along Joo Chiat Road.” Wan’s recent short fiction appears in Rojak an anthology from the Singapore Writers Group.
For more information about Woolf Works click here

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