Next week I am teaching Virginia Woolf’s brilliant and amazing essay A Room of One’s Own.
So on my list of “to do” for the weekend is this note, jotted down while I was in a meeting: “find a way in to Room.”
Of course, what I meant (I think) was that I need to figure out how to help my students tackle this long essay.
But the metaphor?
Woolf says that if each woman could have her own income (which Woolf pegs at being about 500 pounds a year) and a room with a lock on its door (one assumes locking from the inside, not outside, which is to say locking out and not being locked in), then it would be possible to develop “the habit of freedom and the courage to write exactly what we think.”
Wouldn’t that be nice?
It is a room of independence, I guess you could say; and Woolf was smart enough to understand that without freedom from economic worry, it’s very difficult to feel the freedom to create.
In this house that we’re renting, there’s a little room tucked in between the entrance to the garage and the laundry room. On the floor plan of the house, this room is designated “maid’s room.” Lots and lots of people have live-in help in Abu Dhabi, in part because if you hire someone full time, you have to sponsor the person’s visa–and in order to get a visa, you have to have a place to live. We don’t have any live-in help (I don’t want any witnesses), so I have adopted that room as my office.
My god. It’s another room-based metaphor: my “room of my own” is…the maid’s room.
And that’s the challenge, isn’t it? In between driving and errands and laundry and housekeeping, in between earning money and making lists and going to meetings, somewhere in all that, a person should find the courage to write exactly what she thinks.