Originally posted on November 19, 2009 at 5:48 PM
Virginia Woolf wrote a famous essay called “A Room of One’s Own,” in which she argues that women can be as exceptional as men in the writing of fiction if the playing field is leveled. She proposes that if Shakespeare had an equally talented sister, she still would not have been able to produce magnificent writing like his unless she had been allowed money and a room of her own in which to create art.
I personally think Shakespeare, like Elvis, is somewhat overrated (despite his skill), but I agree with what she argues in concept. In a time when women were not considered the equals of men in any field, she stepped up to argue that they should be. As far as writing fiction goes, I don’t think that stigma exists in quite the same way anymore. Perhaps, only, in literary fiction—such as would be studied in a classroom. Men still dominate that field, whether through chance, oppression, or skill, I’m not sure. I do think, though, that women can equal them if given an equal chance… money and a room of one’s own in which to write. Essentially: the luxury to take time away from everything else considered a woman’s duty and sit down to create a masterpiece.
That’s what I’m trying to do. I’ve been put in a circumstance in which I can knock out time for my goals, unlike so many people both male and female. I have the money needed to focus on writing, and I have a house with a room dedicated as my “office.” That’s so much more than most aspiring writers have, and in that way, I know that I am “lucky” or “blessed,” although these circumstances came about in an undesirable way.
To take advantage of the opportunity is harder than you might think. Even now, eighty years after Virginia Woolf’s essay, I still feel the societal pressures that dictate what I should do. And thankfully, they are not so much gender-driven as age-driven, and certainly not personal. But no matter how determined one may be, and how dedicated to one’s dreams, it’s hard to swim against the stream for so long. My fins are getting tired!
I’m going to keep chugging along, though, because in the end I know that’s the right thing for me to do. I would never be happy with myself if I didn’t take these chances, no matter the outcome. So I take a moment to acknowledge both the advantage and the struggle to use it, and keep on writing.Share this: