Virginia Woolf and I

We go back years! I first came to her writing because of A Room of One’s Own. I read it (like most women do) when embarking on my writing career. It was actually very sound advice and when I came to buy my first home as a single woman I was going to have that study if it killed me! I got the study at Eleebana and I now have one in my new home but not enough bookshelves I’m afraid. I now have boxes and boxes of books in the garage but I have somewhere to write besides my favourite cafe.

Last week I discovered that Virginia Woolf not only gives good advice but can be relied on in regards to the weather. A few weeks ago I started writing a new chapter entitled The News (all of my chapters have titles instead of numbers) and when describing the weather wrote: “It was cold but sunny.”  A very hopeful statement on my part I thought having lived through a London winter so I made a mental note to somehow check the actual weather for the 15 December 1917 later on. A few days after this I discovered there were actually two bombing raids in London that month which had me reeling in a orgy of research; as you do when an unexpected real life event turns up that puts a new twist on your writing.

After finding a marvellous book on the WWI blitz by Ian Castle I looked up which library held the first volume of Virginia’s diaries (not for loan) and at Newcastle Library I sat and read her first words for the 15 December 1917: “A cold but sunny day.” Thank you Virginia!

And another thank you for an account of the first of the bombing raids on 6th December which helped me to bring my character’s account to life. According to Virginia’s diaries she was awakened by L to a most instant sense of guns. “As if one’s faculties jumped up fully dressed.” She goes on with a very vivid diary entry for the morning’s events.

As I said, Virginia and I go way back and I’ve now gone back further with her as I have begun to read her very first novel Melymbrosia written in 1912.


Making a Submission

It’s an awful word really for what is an already an often terrifying ordeal. Submission. It’s down on your knees, saying please, please. That’s why I’d rather say I made an application yesterday for a writing fellowship. Scary stuff but it has to be done to put myself out there and find a mainstream publisher. I won’t say where to at the moment but it is actually a place. A place to get your foot in the door but more importantly write uninterrupted for a week in a wonderful location. Gardens, bushland, peace and quiet.  More importantly, meals fixed! Yes, this place is real and it’s reassuring to know it does  exist. Bliss has a name!

When you actually think about it, a writing life is a very strange way to live. I’ve been living this life for thirty years now and both my children (11 years apart) just thought Mum was a bit weird. Thirteen years ago when I moved up north and bought a new house as a single mum, I decided I was going to have a study  (a Room of My Own) even if it killed me. I even managed to get a wall to wall bookcase. I have another house now but unfortunately don’t have that wonderful bookcase and strangely enough find I do most of my writing at cafes these days. Not sure why exactly but escape is a factor. You know, at home you have housework waiting for you, dogs to be walked, a garden to tend to. At a cafe all you can do is to talk to friends, write or read.

When I think about it, behind most of my “submissions,” has been the desire for fame and fortune (of course) but also the desire for more time to write. A bit of money coming in so that I don’t have to work forty hours per week AND WRITE. Instead, say, three days a week with two to do my writing. A dream? Maybe but it’s lovely to have something to aim for and gives me the strength to make these submissions.

Wish me luck!