“So long as you write what you wish to write, that is all that matters; and whether it matters for ages or only for hours, nobody can say.” Virginia Woolf
Today, January 25th, is the 136th anniversary of Virginia Woolf’s birth. What a day for us as writers to celebrate and commemorate! Virginia was a bold literary voice and a champion of the rights of all writers, especially women, to pursue their craft freely. She pioneered in developing the stream-of-consciousness narrative. She also struggled with memories of childhood abuse by a relative and with depression, yet she found solace and joy in her flights of imagination.
She gave the world beautiful gifts in the work she created: The Waves, Mrs. Dalloway, To the Lighthouse, Orlando, and the classic A Room of One’s Own. In her honor, I’ve gathered some of her words of wisdom on writing and life for all of us to ponder:
“As a woman I have no country. As a woman my country is the whole world.”
“Women have served all these centuries as looking-glasses possessing the magic and delicious power of reflecting the figure of man at twice its natural size.
“Anything may happen when womanhood has ceased to be a protected occupation.”
“A woman must have money and a room of her own to write fiction.”
“Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.”
“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”
“You cannot find peace by avoiding life.”
“Arrange whatever pieces come your way.”
“Language is wine upon the lips.”
“Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end.”
“It is in our idleness, in our dreams, that the submerged truth sometimes comes to the top.”
Virginia pursued the freedom to create and write with fierce dedication. More than this, she wanted all of us, everyone, to enjoy this same right. She knew the power of other voices in other rooms. If she were here now, I feel sure she would say to us, “Find your voice. Find your own voice –- the one that is yours and no other’s –- and use it.” Write on!