If I have written loads about Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own, there is a reason. Even a year after reading the book, I am still trying to come to terms with the complexities of it. And of what it means to be a woman and fiction.
In that essay, she asserts that…
…a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction…
Since Alan and I became a couple I have had that independent income about which Woolf spoke. He is forward-thinking in recognizing as society and all families should my contributions as a homemaker, not only with his emotional support and appreciation but monetarily as well.
Still, for the first three years, I kept putting pressure on myself to earn money from my writing. It has been a major part of my journey as The Feminist-Homemaker to overcome the strongly masculine message of success, money, power, and fame of one’s own which has been a major pillar of the feminist movement at least since Betty Friedan published The Feminine Mystique.
It is incredibly hard in this society for a woman, any woman, but especially one who self-identifies as feminist to be financially ‘dependent’ upon a partner. But that is another blog, perhaps best suited to my new The Feminist Homemaker. Yet Woolf, herself, was closely linked with her husband Leonard, financially as well as emotionally and legally. The couple owned their own publishing company as a means primarily of printing Woolf’s works.
But even more than that independent income, it was Woolf’s other condition that troubled me.
On Thursday, our builders completed refinishing the wood floor in my study. If you’re new to my blog, our @HomeCrazzyHome is huge, massive, a mansion even. My partner has an office, a computer museum, a train room, and another for his model business. My daughter @PanKwake is worse. She has PinkTopia (her bedroom), a gaming/art rooms, a music room (which actually Alan uses more), a gymnastics room, and the builders just finished her sensory room, and we are awaiting carpet for the treehouse clubroom.
And me? I had a study, but no sooner had the builders finished it but @PanKwake wanted guinea pigs. I swear that whoever wrote the famous Star Trek episode The Trouble with Tribbles owned guinea pigs.
For the next two years, two, then four little fur balls resided there. Anyone who has ever had guinea pigs knows that the smell and constant squeaking make them less than ideal roommates for a writer’s study.
But over the past few months, my partner Alan’s allergies have gone haywire. To the point that it was getting serious. The guinea pigs had to go. That was harder than it sounds. But after waiting a lifetime to find this man, I was not losing him to an asthma attack brought on by cute furballs.
So it was with mixed relief and guilt that I began the process of reclaiming my one private space in our @HomeCrazzyHome. The first thing, of course, was to get up the carpet, wash down the walls, and get all those allergens out of there. What I discovered beneath the manky old, guinea pig pooed and peed carpet was a battered but serviceable wooden floor. We consulted and scheduled our builders to tackle refinishing it. And viola…less than a week and I had a wonderful Room of My Own.
Now it was all up to me. So, I began the task of moving my things back into it. Arranging the furniture to fit its multiple purposes. It is, after all, more than just a writing room. It is also my sewing room, reading area, and where I go to enjoy my Great Courses. If Alan has a computer museum and PanKwake collects plushies, I hoard dolls, especially the new curvy Barbies. I have almost all of them.
I also collect art. Original pieces, mainly from friends who are artists. And most of them have a goddess or nature themes. The final touch to my new/old study was putting those up. Yesterday my inherited friend (meaning that she came with Alan, I have a few of those) who is my quilting buddy came over. She is an expert at DIY, especially pictures and curtain hanging.
So, last night, after straightening it all up and soaking in the bath for a bit, I sat down to enjoy my latest Great Courses, 36 Women in History before 1400. It is fascinating and I highly recommend it. Then this morning I got up, made my coffee, and sat down in the hidden writing corner of my new/old study. I began the morning with another of my Literotica stories that everyone is begging me to finish, Night Walker’s Woman.
I managed to get a bit over twelve hundred words written. But not without a distraction which Woolf does not directly address in A Room of One’s Own. that distraction was @PanKwake.
Like many other autistic people, myself included, sleep disturbance is a challenge for my daughter. In her case, she does not operate on a ‘normal’ circadian rhythm. Hers is off by two or three hours. Which means that her sleep cycle slowly circles the clock over a period of weeks. Sometimes her sleep routine almost approaches that ‘normal.’ But other times, such as now, she sleeps all day and is up all night. This is especially challenging for us both.
One of the most trying parts of this schedule for me at least is that PanKwake’s brilliant mind that has done its best to entertain itself throughout the night cries out for people. She is certain to be bursting with energy; her mind filled with a hundred ‘would-you-rather’ questions and exploding to explore the deepest, most profound philosophical quandaries of the ages.
As a mother, I am incredibly proud of her, especially considering the other obstacles she faces, including severe dyslexia that leaves her illiterate at fourteen. Nonetheless, she possesses reasoning and logic skills well beyond her years, or even that of a large portion of the adult population. One reason for that is that we have always respected and encouraged her to challenge us. Even at five a.m. in my most precious writing time.
BUT as a writer, I scream…this is MY time.
Woolf does give passing credence to this issue. It is why she asserts that room should have a lock on it.
But I should point out…Woolf had no children.
Any mother knows and quickly accepts that locks and children do not mix. A new mother learns that not only does she not have the luxury of a long soak in the tub, she no longer even is guaranteed a quick pee in quiet. And in fact, quiet can and does usually mean…T-R-O-U-B-L-E. Paint on carpets, a whole roll of paper in the toilet, flour all over the floor and them, and those are just the ‘safe’ ones.
Even as they grow older and more independent, it seems that our offspring fail to grasp the distinction of boundaries. The same youth who might be offended if you burst into their room without knocking has no compunction about doing so herself. At least until she has witnessed her parents doing the nasty a couple of times. Then she learns…and is scarred for life. (@PanKwake is pretty good about this one, but my older daughter remained a virgin until twenty-one, perhaps for this very reason.)
As I sit here now, the house is quiet. @PanKwake’s brilliance has drifted off into whatever technicolor dreams that fuel such brilliance. Alan is not yet awake. Even the builders have disappeared. It is though far later than I prefer to write. I am behind schedule…and will almost certainly not reach my desired word count for the day.
Nonetheless, I remind myself…it will not always be this way. I have six offspring. @PanKwake is the only little bird that has not flown my nest. And she too will do so one day. Probably far sooner than I want to believe. After all, it was just yesterday that I had not only no money or room of my own but not the time to write with four children under five in a tiny Houston apartment.
Today those ‘children’ are dispersed around this planet. Human beings that I am proud to know, let alone have had some tiny part in their lives. I have time now to write. Perhaps not as much as I would like sometimes, but certainly more than I had then. I have that independent (from writing at least) income. And now I even have a room of my own.
My word count should be through the roof. Yet, I still struggle to achieve my goal of #1Mwordsin2020 (one million words in 2020). I am behind right now. Partly because I slacked off on Thursday from too much peopling. Then Friday, I got almost none done because I was setting up my study.
Will I make it? Will I succeed? Who knows? It is much too early to tell. I still have plenty of time to catch up. Even with a wedding and a quilt show on the horizon. But if I don’t it certainly won’t be for those two reasons that Woolf believed so strongly lay at the root of the lack of great women in literature.
Okay…off now to another of my loves…photography class. On Friday, I’ll update you on how close I came to hitting my goal during this first month of 2020.