Wednesday, April 1, 2009

[Clever Title]

“And one gathers from this enormous modern literature of confession and self–analysis that to write a work of genius is almost always a feat of prodigious difficulty. Everything is against the likelihood that it will come from the writer’s mind whole and entire. Generally material circumstances are against it. Dogs will bark; people will interrupt; money must be made; health will break down. Further, accentuating all these difficulties and making them harder to bear is the world’s notorious indifference.” (A Room of One’s Own, 51)

Sometimes I forget that the really great book I’m reading was written by someone who probably had a few bad days. It’s hard for me to imagine that works of literature do not just make themselves appear in perfect form, but that they are created by other people—people who are talented, creative, and patient. It’s seems absurd that someone like Virginia Woolf had to deal with things like writer’s block, or any of those other frustrating interruptions that other not-so-talented, not-always-so-creative, and extremely impatient people like me deal with on a daily basis. That being said, this quote from A Room of One’s Own reminds me that even the greatest novels are not miraculous, neat packages of literary perfection, as they may seem to be. Most likely, Virginia Woolf did not just wake up on a Tuesday morning and say to herself, “I think it would be rather pleasant to write a work of literary genius today. And then perhaps I’ll have tea and do some gardening.” Really, it’s no mystery that writing well is difficult. So, if I’m having this must trouble writing a coherent blog, I can only imagine what someone like Virginia Woolf, or Jane Austen, or William Shakespeare must have felt like when they were writing their masterpieces.
In A Room of One’s Own, Woolf remarks that, “ write a work of genius is almost always a feat of prodigious difficulty. Everything is against the likelihood that it will come from the writer’s mind whole and entire.” This is a four-hundred word blog that cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, be called a work of genius (though perhaps my mother would say otherwise...she’s very encouraging). And even now as I try desperately to finish this assignment in peace, there are interruptions. I have a room of my own, which is a good start according to Woolf. The problem is that in the room of my own, there are also two loud roommates. And a television. And facebook. And I’m pretty sure the “world’s notorious indifference” is just outside my window in the form of a particularly thunderous lawn mower. I’m glad that we read A Room of One’s Own, because Woolf reminded me to appreciate the person behind the writing as an actual human being who struggled with normal, human interruptions. Occasionally I find myself separating the writing from the writer, because like Woolf said, geniuses like Austen and Shakespeare are difficult to find within their work. But they did actually write them. And if I want to call myself an English major, I really shouldn’t forget that.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for putting it into perspective. I got SO frustrated with ARO when I was reading it, and that shows in my paper and my fear of blogging about it, because all I could think was how unrealistic it was. It's INCREDIBLY difficult to be financially comfortable, to get a room of your own (with a lock), let alone finding the TIME or the TALENT to write or create. You've reminded me that Woolf herself clearly encountered some roadblocks while writing, just as I have while reading and that I should remember that it was a PERSON (who went through a LOT) writing this book, it wasn't just spoken into existence.