I have long admired the body of work produced by Virginia Woolf and find her personal life fascinating. And I must be backwards prescient, because I recently read in Writer’s Houses that Virginia wrote in green ink, a practice I intend to acquire on April 1st (when I become the boss of me), before I knew this about her. [she did her editing in violet colored ink. I’ll have to give that some thought.]
I thought how unpleasant it is to be locked out; and I thought how it is worse, perhaps, to be locked in.
I first “met” Virginia Woolf in a college English Literature course featuring female authors in the burgeoning feminist heydays in the late 1970’s. Virginia held court in the excellent company of Edith Wharton, Anita Loos, Lillian Hellman, Sylvia Beach, Dorothy Parker, and Isak Dinesen [Karen Blixen]. Life was so shiny new and frantic. Unorthodox thoughts and ideas burst with promise, illumination, deception, and often disappointment.
A woman must have money and a room of her own
if she is to write fiction.
Virginia did not trouble herself worrying about finding an agent or a publisher. Quite ahead of their time, Virginia and Leonard set up Hogarth Press in 1917, publishing Virginia’s work, as well as others who would become notable 20th century authors, including T S Eliot, Katherine Mansfield, E M Forster, and Sigmund Freud. Indie authors everywhere are descendants of the Woolf’s ingenuity.
On the outskirts of every agony sits some observant fellow who points.
Most of her life, Virginia struggled with mental illness and possibly an eating disorder. Various diary entries and letters reference a need to maintain a certain body weight, below which she heard voices and experienced hallucinations. A great intrigue is whether the acuity of her writing was because of, or in spite of, her illness.
My own brain is to me the most unaccountable of machinery – always buzzing, humming, soaring roaring diving, and then buried in mud.
And why? What’s this passion for?
What, indeed? I ponder this very query about my own buzzing, humming mind.