Good Afternoon Dear Friends
And what a glorious one it is; in contrast to the rather murky morn that met my waking eyes the sun is lapping at the newly-washed windows and even the pavements seem to be in a relaxed state . . .
You find me in the still-cluttered and somewhat unorganised study thinking about a room of one's own - a concept which has been spending a lot of time loitering in the corners of my mind recently and the reason why today's offering bears that particular title.
It is, of course, the title of an extended essay by the delightful creature pictured here, Virginia Woolf, based upon a lecture she was asked to give at Cambridge in 1929 regarding women and literature. She declared that a woman needed " money and a room of one's own to write fiction" and now, some eighty-two years later, I can but concur with her and relate it to my own particular circumstances.
Of course it is so much easier for me technically now than it was for her in 1929; in fact, it is so much easier now than it was for me when I first began to write in those long-ago pre-internet days! The concept of producing something that didn't involve inserting paper into an old Smith Corona typewriter, correcting it with tippex, then hieing off to the copy shop and finally trying to distribute the thing would have been inconceivable; the professionalism and ease with which it is possible these days would have been similarly unimaginable.
However, Virginia was referring to the fact that it was because she was a woman in what was still very much a male dominated world that she needed the independence (that was at that time mainly the preserve of men) - the money and the room - in order to work and in order to be herself. In the essay she refers to the fact that, wandering around the college prior to the lecture, she was forbidden to walk upon the grass - a privilege afforded only to scholars ( all male at that time) and their guests or to enter the library without a formal invitation because of her gender - a state of affairs that we find difficult to comprehend these days . . . I wonder, though, how I would have fared in those days; Virginia may have been female but, being from a relatively well-heeled family, she was of the correct class to have access to the right people and to not have to work in drudgery in order to eat; another example, I suppose, of how the availability of technology these days acts as a social leveler to some degree.
I, too, needed a room of my own. Not because of my gender, but because of the beliefs I hold and the way I am as a person. I needed the space and independence from the stresses of living in the Bijou Penthouse Suite; I needed the silence and the solitude; to be free from unwillingly having to share peoples lives as they fought and argued volubly at all hours of the day and night; would Virginia have managed to succeed living in the East End of London? I very much doubt it; as I have learned to be different in an environment is to invite trouble!
As it was, of course, even the 'room' she eventually found was not enough to prevent her suicide in 1941; She had been plagued for many years with bouts of severe depression and fits and I wonder if modern anti-depressants would have been of any help to her? Or would it have been a case of taking away the devils and the angels too and rendering her writing voice mute?
Whilst my writing voice is in full throat it is sadly only so in a creative direction; the slight issue of outstanding assignments is never far from my mind, no matter how hard I push it away and really I should be writing them instead of this . . . ah me! A Writer's Life, eh!
And all these thoughts and musings occur to me in the silence of the study; I have my room and, once sorted with the addition of more bookcases and a comfy chair to read in (luxury indeed!) it will be worth of the title of a room of one's own . . .
And with that I shall leave you to the eventide; have a lovely one and enjoy your freedoms for they are plentiful!
'til next time
Be Seeing You !