A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.
~ Virginia Woolf
This has always been one of my favorite quotes. Not because it’s true, mind you, but because it’s amusing. If it were really true, there would be four, maybe five women in the whole world who had the ingredients necessary to write even flash fiction. Forget writing a novel.
I know a lot of women who write and they work the whole business piecemeal – half an hour here, fifteen minutes there, maybe an hour after the kids go to bed and if they don’t fall asleep on their keyboards before page three. Most of us sneak writing in between loads of laundry and incessant interruptions about Where Things Are. We are the keepers, we gals, and that always manages to come first because the guilt our mothers taught us stuck. Hard.
A room of one’s own? Unless she’s got one of those creepy “safe rooms” that locks hydraulically and requires a secret code to enter, she’ll never find a room no one else feels free to enter. And it doesn’t even matter if she’s got one of those, because no amount of expensive sound-proofing will drown out the pleading on the other side of the wall.
Here’s the thing: I’m not complaining. I generally love interruptions because they mean my house is full of life and love. It’s impossible to get deeply into a story that way, so I schedule my heavy-duty writing time in the early mornings for that very reason. You wouldn’t believe how much I can write in an hour and a half of complete quiet. The rest of the day belongs to other things and plenty of them.
It’s not the room, you see, it’s the silence.
The money thing is shiftier. Sure, I can imagine having enough money to buy time away from work. I think about this often when passing through states with lottery tickets for sale at gas stations (by the way, we’re beginning a state lottery here soon and I’m VERY excited). I’m not much of a math person, but I can wrap my head around the astronomical odds of winning such a thing as enough money to write fiction. It’s fun to think about, but it’s not going to happen. I’m guessing Virginia needed less money back then.
My theory about women and piecemeal writing is that we’ve all found something that fits our interruptible lives – blogging. Short pieces and instant publishing gratification between dentist appointments and fighting children…no wonder the blogosphere is awash in mommy blogs.
And I say, attagirl.
Maybe all of us aren’t producing Woolf-level fiction, but we get the writing done with a sense of accomplishment and a saucy pop when we hit “publish.” Nothing wrong with that. For heavy-lifting fiction there are always stolen hours late and early. I don’t know about you, but I’m not missing a hug from The Perfect Grandson just to get my head more deeply into a plot. The plot will wait for silent hours, but the boy will be a man in an instant and give his hugging to someone else.
(Note: During the process of writing this post I made two pitchers of iced tea, took one phone call, found a lost book, switched out the laundry, and comforted my daughter. Just so you know.)