Money and a Room of One’s Own

Virginia Woolf said that in order to write, women need money and a room of their own. When you think about it, men probably need the same thing. I guess that when Virginia was writing, it was less possible for women to have their own money or their own creative spaces.

The time/space/Benjamins continuum....

Now, I have a creative space. It’s a beautiful office, small but nicely appointed, and when I’m there, I’m surrounded by my art, my icons of imagination, my photos, my weird symbols of ages past. It really is a room of my own, even if adjoins the bathroom. Creative geniuses need to pee too, so you know…I guess Virginia probably had a loo attached to her office too.

The money part…well…I’m a teacher. The money used to be pretty good, but of late, that has sort of been less the case. More work, less money. More kids, less money. More expected, less money. But I think this is true of most professions, unless you happen to be a Wall Street Banker or a jailed lobbyist. They seem to be doing just fine. Maybe if I got arrested, I’d be able to sock away a little more cash.

I believe that Virginia forgot one crucial ingredient to the creative woman stew. That is time. Time. Time and silence. These two things are in critically short supply at my house; it seems that when I finish work, pick up my son from school, help with his homework, make dinner (or something that passes for dinner), get my son’s bath going and get him to bed, the day is over. Any creative spark that I might have felt earlier in the day has, by that point, been drenched with the icy water of practicality. Things have to be done, you know. Kids gotta eat.

But even more than time, I miss silence. When I was single, I had an abundance of silence but did not in any way appreciate it. In fact, I tried to fill it with sound and activity. Now, since my days are filled with noises (often nice noises, though…kids laughing, sons singing musical theater hits, husbands practicing saxophone, cats meowing), I feel that I rarely have a moment to simply think without distraction. Just doing this blog is a challenge; right now I’m writing while arbitrating a fight between two 7-year-old artists about the proper way to draw and color a jack-o’-lantern. I will likely be called to make a judgment call at any moment. Forgive me if I abruptly stop writing.

Time, space, silence…these simple things that used to be easily obtained were also easily ignored, and even hated. I sure wish I had appreciated them, used them, savored them. I guess that’s what happens when you live and learn. As for the money, I never had that and probably never will, so I guess I won’t really miss it. But as Virginia knew, it sure helps if you want to write a book. It buys you freedom. Freedom and a room of your own. And maybe happiness, depending on how you define it.

My first book...back when I had time.


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Stacey
    Sep 16, 2010 @ 01:20:00

    There’s a CORRECT way to draw a Jack-o-latern? Oh no! I’ve been doing it wrong for YEARS! (loved this post, thx)


  2. Mike Rutledge
    Sep 16, 2010 @ 04:03:30

    I just read every one of your posts. Very interesting. I think your new approach – writing for the sake of writing – will yield treasure for you, and probably new books by you. Your posts are interesting and I look forward to reading more. You’re right about all jobs becoming more difficult through time lately and seemingly more thankless. When it comes to the teaching, when it seems especially thankless, just realize that many people would thank you each day if they weren’t in their own selfish bubble. But sometime down the road, maybe years from now, many of them will silently thank you from afar, and in their own minds. Keep up the good writing and good work. I’m starting to read Ulysses, so many years after college, so some of us are reading.


  3. Dan Tricarico
    Sep 18, 2010 @ 04:39:49

    Why do you think I’m in my classroom at such an ungodly hour? Silence, woman! (Or, if I’m in the mood, The Beat Farmers!). Great post!


  4. Helen Klich
    Sep 18, 2010 @ 20:40:39

    Yeah! And it is a very rewarding and interesting book about today’s and tomorrow’s teenagers.


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