A Room of One’s Own

“A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.”  ~ Virginia Woolf

This does not have to be a big room.

It can be no more than a broom cupboard as long as there is light and air, and a space for books, pens, paper, computer…the digital and non-digital paraphernalia of writing. There must be a place to sit and contemplate. A chair, at the very least. A desk? Maybe. But that is optional and depends on one’s proclivity. A physical space, inviolate.

But it cannot be only a room.

What makes it a space where writing can take place? Solitude, above all. No woman is an island, but every woman needs an island every now and then. There must be social acceptance of her private space that renders not only the room, but her exclusive occupancy of it legitimate and worthy of protection. The door is not always open, she is not always welcoming. It is a selfish space. But cannot be judged because of this. It is a deservedly selfish space. This room cannot be only a room, but a socially constructed space. It is a space where she is as much a woman inside of it as she is outside of it, in the world of husbands and children and other obligations.

And perhaps it need not even be a room.

When there is no physical facility the space is internal. A free space in the mind of the woman who claims it. A retreat into deep thought and detachment that can be maintained even when external demands on attention are ceaseless and insistent. Inviolate? Yes, to the extent that she allows it to be so. Legitimate? Only in her eyes. Waiting for external legitimation is perhaps a waste of time, and irrelevant. This room of her own is portable, mobile, virtual, but no less real.

Yes, Virginia, a woman does need money and a room of her own. But she also needs love to feed her dreams.

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