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Monday, 25 January 2010

A Room of One's Own

Today is "A Room of One's Own Day", a National celebration of both Virginia Woolf's birthday and her premise that women will never reach their creative capacity while hampered by domestic duty. And oh how we know, even more than three quarters of a century later, exactly what she was talking about...

And so here on Brocante, in celebration of a woman who so often spoke for all of us, I hereby offer you a little collection of Virginia Woolf quotes that have been scrawled in the papery debris of  my life for many a year now. Quotes, which if taken line by line, could make the starting points of quite the most fabulous set of blog posts... I dare ya, hell perhaps I even dare myself!

 "Really I don't like human nature, unless all candied over with art"
Oh well put Virginia! People can be awfully bothersome in real life and so utterly charming on paper. Let me live my life between the pages of a book...

"The truth is I often like women. I like their unconventionality. I like their completeness. I like their anonymity."
Are we complete? More complete than men? What is our completeness for? A protective shield of authenticity, real or otherwise?  Do you feel complete? What if we revealed all the holes?  What then Virginia??

"You cannot find peace by avoiding life."
I do that. I hush myself. I hide and behave and play a part. All the time the chorus in my head gets louder. And more than this I see women everywhere avoiding life. On purpose! Fear a madness we consume like so much chocolate compromising everything we should be.

"My own brain is to me the most unnacountable piece of machinery- always buzzing, humming, soaring, diving and then buried in mud. And why? What's this passion for?"
And then this. So alert, so alive, chasing concentration, some bewildering ecstacy, applause, exhaustion. One sparkly day, three muddy months and on and on and on.

Because what comes out of that one sparkly day is worth whatever it costs thereafter? Yes, yes, that is it: because it is the sparkly days that propel us towards our dreams: the sparkly days that give us the power to sieze a room of our own and create within it something that matters. The sparkly days that will have us do what Virginia Woolf decreed and "arrange the pieces that come our way" in a way that leaves it's glittering mark behind us.

Those of us who cannot help but create are always willing to pay the price. How will you set about creating a room of your own today?


Anonymous said...

..."women will never reach their creative capacity while hampered by domestic duty."

Maybe in Virginia's time this was the case. Certainly not today. Some of the most creative women I know are homemakers as well. We can thank technology for that.


Alison May said...

I think my point was not so much that we haven't made great big strides since Virginia's day but that though we may be more able to carve out the "room" to indulge our creativity or indeed satisfy our need to create in whatever form that may take, our instinct is always to attend to our domestic life first and foremost in a way that time hasn't altered and men do not seem to experience, so even if we are truly hitting our creative stride our other life is always demnding our attention even if it is only by quota of guilt.

But yep: absolutely technology has offered us much freedom.

Kimberly said...

never reach their creative capacity while hampered by domestic duty

Why not express our creative capacity THROUGH our domestic duty? I don't see them as mutually exclusive. Your site is one that specifically does this.

True-I must go rotate the laundry in a few minutes thereby keeping me from working on my novel for a few minutes. But, neither can my husband who is relatively unencumbered by domestic duty, work on his woodcrafting right now as he is at work.

We all have necessary work and creative work. I just advocate making your necessary work as creative as possible. After folding the laundry, I will take a few extra moments to roll out my rising bread dough into several different loaves all with unique looks and tastes. It all comes from the same plain dough, but I can transform it into several wonderful things merely by taking the few extra moments it takes.

Alison May said...

Oh Kimberly isn't is funny how it takes someone from outside your world to point out what is perfectly obvious in it? You are so right: domesticity can be our craft. Thank you.x

Anna said...

Not a fan of Virginia. I think she was on the wrong track and brilliant Ali and Kimberly have nailed it!

vmichelle said...

I don't feel like creativity and domesticity are mutually exclusive. But, given that I have a full-time job and also somehow manage to be the spouse who cooks, cleans and runs errands, it can be hard to find the time I need to create. I don't mind housework, but right now, it's on the bottom of my heap because I'm choosing to write instead. And the mess drives me nuts! But hoping to get some sparkly days of my own.

Diana said...

Some well put views on perception here. It's all to do with balance - isn't everything? When my out of home work offers scope for my creative urges, domestic work is undertaken in a routine more mundane way. If that is not the case, that is when jam jar posies spring up on every available surface in the house; pictures get re-arranged and cupcakes get baked and iced. "Where the attention goes, the energy flows." I like to attend to being creative at something or other.

laney said...

...goodness...i always thought the way virginia could do all she did was because she had someone else cleaning that room of hers...

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