Finding a Space of One’s Own

036-virginia-woolf-theredlistLate, that’s the kind of writer I am today. Even blogs have deadlines, and the kind colleague who gets my entries posted doesn’t complain that this will arrive in her inbox well past her bedtime. And still I sit here, taking my time, trying to turn thoughts and words over in my mind…

When I type I sit at a slim, navy blue desk with two shelves attached. A cream-colored bulletin board covered in fabric and crisscrossed with grosgrain ribbon claims a collection of artifacts. A small crowd of dishes waits for my attention just through the door to the kitchen. A plump Siamese purrs and dozes in my lap.

And as I sit at my computer, typing this, I think again and again of Virginia Woolf.

Okay, my BA in English might give me away, but I love Virginia Woolf. Not only because of her writing, which has pinned me down and laid me bare with it’s devastating, passionate precision on many a night. But also for how, in A Room of One’s Own, she gave me permission to work toward something that belongs to me.

Her slim volume addressed the specifics of writing fiction, but I believe that her creed, “a woman must have money and a room of her own,” is true. In order to work and create something, anything, that is important to you, there must be some space, actual and psychic, in which to do it, and an income to keep your tummy filled and your PG&E bill paid.What astonishes me is that women continue to create and achieve, even without such a personal environment, however humble. And continue to suffer from the lack of that space and those means, too.

And I have this now, space to call my own, this apartment. It’s tiny by some standards, just two rooms. The kitchen is spacious though, and contains my very first breakfast nook, filled with sunshine most days. It could be argued that, being an introvert, my temperament demands this retreat, and that more social creatures don’t need it. What I would say is that being able to acknowledge what one needs to move in the world, and then assuming the freedom to attain and use those prescriptions, is what is important.

I trust Ms. Woolf would agree. Solitude, community, a room of one’s own, a garden, a kitchen table. That we as women can say it, and own it, and achieve it without apology or fear or undue hardship. “So long as you write what you wish to write, that is all that matters; and whether it matters for ages or only for hours, nobody can say.” What matters is that you can do the things that you desire, and that you do. “Anything can happen when womanhood ceases to be a protected occupation”…