“A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.”
These famous words, which form the premise of Ms. Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own, have changed the way the world looks at Women and Fiction. The text is indeed a remarkable one, offering much insight into human nature, society, history (really, about so much more than I could do justice to in a single post). Reading it was a most thought-provocative experience for me 🙂
And I’d like to take that point which Ms. Woolf makes, about needing a room of one’s own to write fiction, for the sake of this Reflections post.
It doesn’t matter if you haven’t read Ms. Woolf’s piece – in fact, that way you could try a before & after exercise – write down how you feel about that first statement before reading her work, then read it, and comment on how you feel after you’ve read it!
Money & a Room of One’s Own
Do you think it is irrelevant, or find it valid even in today’s world?
What do you feel she means by “money” and “a room of one’s own“?
From your personal experience as a writer (or artist of any kind), are you led to think of these (the “money” and “room”) in a very literal way? Or are they, to you, more symbolic than currency notes & four walls, a floor, and a ceiling to call your own studio?
Do you identify with the “woman” Ms. Woolf speaks of? If you do not, do you still identify with the statement – at least, the rest of it?
What does the creative mind need?
I read Ms. Woolf’s statement and I think of it in the context of creativity. Not necessarily in a feminist perspective, just in the perspective of unleashing creativity.
Does the act of creativity require financial security, as Ms. Woolf claims? There have been artists who strived to improve their art even in the poorest of financial conditions. But certainly, I thought, to not have to worry about making ends meet would be a relief, a burden off of one’s mind, so that one may concentrate on the act of creating and only that.
And, does one need “a room of one’s own”? What kind of space would that be? A physical space that offers quietude? And the space, in society, to think freely and let one’s thoughts glide, unimpeded. But this freedom was not granted at the time.
“Literature is open to everybody. I refuse to allow you, Beadle though you are, to turn me off the grass.
Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no
bolt, that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.”
― Virginia Woolf
Rooms of our own
How do you feel about your own “money” and “room”? Do you feel like you’ve got everything you need to create (art)?
What do you feel are the issues the fields of literature and art face today – when it comes to whose words are read, and whose remain unread, or worse — unwritten? When it comes to whose voices are heard, and whose remain unheard, or worse — are silenced?
The world is a lot more open-minded than it was at the time of Ms. Woolf’s writing A Room of One’s Own. How much have things changed? Just taking a look at the blogosphere, we see an abundance of creative minds expressing themselves openly, with nothing to hinder them. In this world, where we certainly seem to have enough rooms of our own on the internet, who are the ones still without their freedom?
There’s a lot to write about – poems about writing, expressing, poems about being unexpressed, narratives about freedom…
So here I’ll sign off, leaving my fellow writers to their ruminations 🙂 and this request from Ms. Woolf:
“Therefore I would ask you to write all kinds of books, hesitating at no subject however trivial or however vast. By hook or by crook, I hope that you will possess yourselves of money enough to travel and to idle, to contemplate the future or the past of the world, to dream over books and loiter at street corners and let the line of thought dip deep into the stream.”
― Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own
Dig deep folks! Happy writing! 🙂