I started this blog entry wanting to explore the various writing spaces of both myself and others. I love my writing space. It's where I make all of my most embarrassing mistakes. The sun room has research materials*. All of my grandmother's writing is here, too. It has a typewriter, and pens, and paper. It needs little else. It also has plenty of windows to distract me from what I am supposed to be doing. Why is that cricket staring at me? What does he** know that I don't?
Where was I? Ah, yes. Writing spaces. I wanted to celebrate them, and hopefully keep my New Year's resolution at bay for another week.
But something happened along the way. It became several different posts, and the thesis got a little lost in the shuffle. I could go into the wide array of personal studios, from the crowded nests of Mark Twain and Roald Dahl to the austere rooms and simple tables of people like Jane Austen and Virginia Woolf, but you can find a plethora of pictures of such spaces. They're everywhere.
Virgina Woolf kept coming back into my mind. Her essay "A Room of One's Own" brings to mind images of a sacred space (beyond one's own mind) used for the sole purpose of exercising the creative spark.
Except, that isn't what "A Room of One's Own" is about. Not one little bit.
One of the plethora of blog posts I looked at as I tried to cull a list of writing spaces to feature called me out on a problem. You can read it for yourself here, but I am exactly the type of person that the author describes who thought they knew what Woolf was talking about, but had never actually read the piece in question.
So then I read it. You should do so as well here.
Woolf's essay isn't about longing for the magical space that will unleash your imagination's potential. That's the easy part. It's about society's refusal to allow women to unleash that potential.
Which is something we've most certainly fixed in the twenty-first century. Right?
Why is that damned cricket making such a damned racket all of a sudden?
If we've made any progress in female empowerment in the last 100 years, it certainly isn't in leaps and bounds, but in incremental measurements, and most of it has been cosmetic***. It stinks, and there aren't likely to be a lot of large-scale societal ways to make things better anytime soon.
Writing is hard enough on its own. I want to stop blogging right now, curl up into a ball, and watch monster movies until I slip into a coma. For those of us trying to carve out a career with our words, our work is like trying to craft magnificent sculptures using only water erosion. It's functionally impossible, even for the insanely talented. To try and persevere without a disturbing amount of privilege in your corner must make the process beyond impossible. But many do stagger onward, and so did my grandmother. She submitted pieces to magazines up until the week she passed away, and didn't get her final rejection letter until several months later.
I can't make it easier, and I can't remove the problem. If I could, I'd be mansplaining anyway. In fact, I won't try to tell you to do anything. If you're trying to write, or do anything along those lines, you don't need me to tell you what to do. You already know.
*A dictionary, a thesaurus, a style guide I never look at, and the largest collection of Orson Welles biographies in my cul-de-sac.
**Or her. Jesus. I'm starting out with the privilege. Doesn't bode well.
***Has this blog post turned into an endorsement of Hillary? I think, in this moment, it has. Who knew? She's smart and knows what she's doing. Bernie's fine, but I voted for Mrs. Clinton in 2008, and I can't really come up with something she has done to lose my vote. I'm for Hillary. Bernie's great, too. If that isn't enough ideological purity for you, I can accept that. I still think you're terrific.