!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd"> Emerging Women .comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
A Room of One's Own - Week 2
Our book selection for this month's discussion is Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own. This week I want to look at the idea presented in the title of the book. Woolf's suggestion is that for a woman to be able to write (have the time, energy, space, resources) she needs a room of her own and money. Her suggestion is an endowment of 500 a year (which today of course wouldn't pay for one month's rent, but I'm sure someone could come up with a sum that accounts for inflation) which would allow women the opportunity and the time to write without the constraints of funding the habit through backbreaking work. The room is for privacy and sufficient uninterrupted periods to concentrate.

Woolf sees the numerous books that men (some who, as she puts it, "have no apparent qualification save that they are not women") have produced and the vast amounts of resources that in her day had been set aside to develop the life of the mind for men. She wonders why women have been denied these same opportunities. Why must the women's colleges scrimp and save? Why is it so much easier for the men to get an education and find the resources to write? She wonders at how many more books by women we would have or how much better the ones we do have would be if women had privacy and resources.

Over the last century much has changed in the world. Women often have equal access to educational opportunities, but I continue to hear ongoing conversations about how much more difficult it is for women to write. One of the very first conversations on this blog involved why it is easier for men to blog. And the question of why aren't we seeing emerging books by women is asked on a fairly frequent basis. Is Woolf correct - do we just lack the time, privacy, and resources? (I have to laugh at that because my writing this discussion post has been interrupted a few times by my toddler asking me to taste the food she is making in her toy kitchen...). How do you respond to Woolf's assertions? Do they hold truth? How do they apply today?

And on a more personal note... Why do or don't you write (blog...)? How does it work for you? When do you find the time?

Labels: , ,

posted by Julie at 1:42 PM ¤ Permalink ¤


  • At 3/11/2008 02:25:00 PM, Blogger Amber

    I think we write when we feel we must. I do have my own room, though. It's the kitchen, right next to the laundry room. I have three children, ages three and under, and I am writing more now than ever, though sometimes the dishes stack and the laundry sours in the wash. I am reading some amazing stuff lately, too, written by women who have more to do than I.

    Is it that men want to be heard and find that their voice matters and can make a difference? I think I know women with the same instinct, and I think those are the women who write.

    I do LOVE Ms. Virginia, though.

  • At 3/13/2008 06:44:00 AM, Blogger Kim

    I think it does have something to do with time and privacy. I wonder if there is still this idea remaining that the care of the children/home rests solely on women, so that even if she is working a full time job she will continue to take on this responsibility-making blogging, writing, or any other creative endeavor difficult. I wonder, too, if --especially in a Christian circles-- this residual mindset and even a patriarchal mindset lingers in our brains and makes us question whether or not what we have to say will be relevant. I hope this isn’t the case, but sometimes I think it is. I think this is changing though.

    As far as blogging or taking the time to write-- I think a lot depends on how badly we want it. Parenting during that infant/toddler stage is a tough one. I remember sleep deprived days when it was a miracle if I remembered to rinse the conditioner out of my hair and get mascara on both eyes (I forgot both once). When I could, I tried to get up early to write/pray. The house was quiet. It was just me, God, coffee, and the proverbial blank page. Pure bliss (except during writers block). My kids are in high school and I still get up early to write. Its my time and the day feels whacked if I don‘t get it. I think it is important to surround ourselves with women: friends, mentors, other writers, who can speak truth into our lives and perpetually remind us that our unique voice is an important gift and a viable way to back to our communities.

  • At 3/13/2008 07:21:00 AM, Anonymous Amber @ run-a-muck

    The blog-world has provided me with that community, and I am very grateful. I totally agree that it has to do with how badly we want it. My husband wants it badly, too! He works 65+ hours a week, comes home to help me with the boys and the house, and finds time to write new songs, read numerous books, and spend time with the LORD. He's not perfect, but he inspires me to press on.

    If I ever think my voice doesn't matter, it's not exactly that I'm a woman, but it's that I'm exhausted and don't make sense. I love my job, but it has side-effects. The more that women pull out of the fog to write, though, the more I am encouraged that my gifts don't go away. In the meantime, I soak up what He has put around me. It's shaping the paragraphs I know I'll write in a few years.

  • At 3/14/2008 03:16:00 PM, Blogger Jemila Kwon

    I do have a room to use, although it lacks a window :) I feel what is harder is to connect with writer's workshops and conferences etc to make the connections that allow men to break into the market in terms of making it as an author.

  • At 3/15/2008 11:27:00 AM, Blogger Julie

    I agree those that really want to write will make the time no matter what. I recall in the discussion a couple of years ago the men (mostly paid clergy) blog as part of work/ministry from their office or they come home from work and get "down time". Women (either stay-at-home moms or working in non-ministry positions) didn't have that ease of opportunity to just do it at work and never get down time at the end of the day. At least that those stats were proposed as why there are more men blogging and having consistent content.

  • At 3/17/2008 11:21:00 PM, Blogger Robin M.

    When I am really inspired, I write and blog a lot, laundry and dishes be damned.

    Most of the time, however, the habit and discipline of writing has to compete with making dinner and supervising children and all the other daily tasks of life. It's hard sometimes for ME to remember that writing is a profession, not just a luxury, let alone getting the rest of my family to consider it that way.

    Beyond journaling or blogging, editing for print publication is a detailed, rigorous process that requires sustained, disciplined mental effort. For me, this takes solitude: space to keep things without them being moved, quiet time without Raffi or sibling squabbles in the background, for a few hours a day, and a few days in a row. Which I get sometimes, but not often enough. Certainly not often enough to write a whole book. Finally this year, both my children are in school and I write most then, but that's still part time, and some of that time has to be spent on other functions of family management.

    A room that was really my own, rather than partly mine, some of the time? Wouldn't it be luvverly. And money? I'd say the equivalent would have to be something like $40,000 a year now.

  • At 3/18/2008 12:59:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous

    I really wrestled with starting a blog. I didn't think anyone would read or be interested in what I would say. But then I simply decided I was going to do it for me. I was never good at journaling...but blogging just clicked. I use my blog to process my thoughts and knowing that someone else may read it gives me the incentive write well. Not that free flowing writing it not good just not me. I have been at it for 2 years now and have a small readership. It really has been a boost to my confidence and feeling of accomplishment. It helps me sort my thoughts. Although I don't have a room of my own (2 bedroom home for 5 people and a dog) I do have a space of my own and it does wonders. It helps that my kids are all in school. If you had asked me 10 years ago it would be very different.

    I am really enjoying Woolf's writing. I have highlighted several sections. It has been very encouraging to see the progress and sad to see how much further women have to go.


Links to this post:

Create a Link