Sunday, 1 April 2012

A room and money of my own

Virginia Woolf famously said that : 'A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction'. I wholeheartedly agree.  This is not to say that a woman lives in isolation and that she cuts herself off from the world deliberately but when she is in a state of deep focus it’s a necessity.

A woman is many things to many people. She’s born with responsibilities and I speak from personal experience. I was born into a family of men and I had the good fortune (or not) to be the first born. From an early age, I was the secondary care-giver after my mother. I had three younger brothers who were the chicks to my mother hen.

The room to write
My mother was pre-occupied with a number of contentious issues. As a young wife in the 60’s & 70’s, she didn’t have much of an identity –a mere support for her husband. Her “job” was little above a domestic. The tragedy of this was that my mother was educated.  However, she suffered from first generation immigrant syndrome and did not value herself or her potential.

 My mother worked for periods in her life but with four children close in age this never developed into a career. My mother missed her family and the sunshine of her homeland. She did not relate to the perpetual, steel grey skies , rain that poured down like cold needles, scarves and hats that were needed to block out the icy winds, powder white snow that turned to black ice and clothes that took three days or more to dry in front of a fire. If not for her indomitable spirit and catholic beliefs she would have, in today’s terms, crashed and burned. 

Let him do it so you can write
Though my mother worked she did not have any real money. Whatever she earned was spent on the household and sometimes on the odd lipstick for herself. My mother was old school and self sacrificing so much so that my father, being a man of his time, took full advantage.

Playing the dutiful daughter made me invisible so I would  lock myself away for hours in my bedroom.  I read books and scribbled down random and convoluted thoughts that developed into a proclivity for fiction and poetry. At the age of around twelve, I found the thing that moved me and made me feel whole was writing. But what did I do with my new found talent? I hid it away in a closet,  let it out for brief periods but  never shared it with anyone.

"Me time" or else!
A woman has many faces; daughter, sister, wife and mother. These roles mire her in responsibility. Some of them fit, some are uncomfortable and some feel like a straitjacket. Though a woman can’t  break free from all of her unique responsibilities she has to make space amongst them for spiritual development. 

That’s not easy when her living space is invaded by the busy and colourful lives of her offspring and spouse. Her space might be just one clear work surface where she sits to collate the outpourings of her heart – her cares, woes and singular triumphs.

Money can be a grand obstacle on her spiritual and writing journey – whether she has too little or too much of it. If she has too little then she’s pre-occupied by making ends meet, scrimping and darning can be wearing to her soul. She may feel defeated even before the muse whispers intricate plots and vibrant characters into her ear. Her head may be buzzing with ideas but her body is fatigued. Her enthusiasm dampened by endless days on the domestic treadmill.

Money talks....and writes best sellers
If a woman is wealthy or marries into it,  it’s not plain sailing. She may be a trophy wife and the money isn’t truly hers. She has to “work “ for it by painting on a false smile, being beautifully coiffured, immaculately dressed whilst giving all and sundry the impression that she has the perfect life. Money does provide more than a few comforts and she’ll have a small army to take care of the chores but this is not true independence; especially if there’s an overbearing husband in the background.

 When a woman's in writing mode she has to lock herself away in a customised hideaway that can take the shape of a variety of forms – a den, a desk tucked away in the corner of her bedroom, a cafe, a shed at the bottom of the garden and even her car. 

Woman of substance
What’s important is that she’s not fussing over runny noses, untied shoelaces, meat and vegetables, dirty dishes  and a mountain of laundry.

Oh yes, a room of your own and money that belongs to you will enhance your writing skills by just allowing you to do it...but my advice to all budding writers is just do it anyway....amidst the chaos of your domestic life.

Writing on a wave

If you persevere you never know what inspiration it may bring and 
that's the key to success and.....good writing!



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