Friday, January 25, 2008

Happy Birthday, Virginia Woolf

My Bylines 2008 Writer’s Desk Calendar tells me today is Virginia Woolf’s birthday (1882-1941). One of my favorite Virginia Woolf quotes about the art and craft of writing:

"If you do not tell the truth about yourself, you cannot tell it about other people."

Especially apt for nonfiction writers, wouldn't you say?

Then there's this Virginia Woolf idea (at the time, revolutionary) about what's necessary for a writer to create, in particular a woman writer:

“ A woman must have money and a room of her own.”

In her seminal essay, "A Room of One's Own," Woolf specified, in 1929, that “500 (British) pounds” a year was about right. That’s around $40,000 today, give or take.

Money's such a personal thing and I certainly don't have the answer to this want-to-write/have-to-earn conundrum. But I will venture to say that any way (OK, any legal, moral way) in which you can arrange your financial life so that you are able to write, Virginia would likely approve.

To the room and money requirements, I would add that a woman also needs time, and more often than not, she will have to steal it.

Go ahead. It's not a crime. Steal some time -- today, this weekend, this month.

Do you have a room of your own? A corner of a room of your own? A desk of your own? Somewhere your writing can live and breathe?

Tell me about yours.

Just finished reading: The Opposite of Fate: Memories of a Writing Life, by Amy Tan


Rene said...

I had a desk built into my kitchen when I had it remodeled. Unfortunately, I haven't had the time to take advantage of it. And when I get it cleaned up, I will post a picture. But it was designed with my needs in mind and if I would steal some time to write, I think it will be very conducive to writing.

Frank Baron said...

Hiya Lisa. I really like that quote too. Too bad you attributed it. Makes it tougher to steal....


I've got a nice, old, double-pedestal oak desk that belonged to my Dad. Admittedly, it looks a little odd with a computer on it. A quill and ink would look more apt. But I like it.

Cindy Fey said...

My desk is wedged in a corner between a Pepto-Bismol colored wooden fridge and a shelf loaded with Legos and Pee-Wee Herman videos. Yes, I'm in the playroom. Mr. Potato Head stares at me while I work. But I'm grateful for the space - it's the time to use it that's elusive.