Friday, 6 October 2017

Follow Virginia Woolf's Advice

I am re-reading Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own, and I found a few things relevant to this blog's mission. Woolf is a writer, and her long essay is, understandably, about writing, but her advice can be transposed to other creative endeavours.

1. A creative person requires solitude and a modicum of financial independence.

"[A] woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction" (Chapter One). 

2. Don't bow down to critics.

"[D]elightful as the pastime of measuring may be, it is the most futile of all occupations, and to submit to the decrees of the measurers the most servile of attitudes. 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. But to sacrifice a hair of the head of your vision, a shade of its colour, in deference to some Headmaster with a silver pot in his hand or to some professor with a measuring-rod up his sleeve, is the most abject treachery, and the sacrifice of wealth and chastity which used to be said to be the greatest of human disasters, a mere flea-bit in comparison" (Chapter Six).

3. If good art is important, then someone must create it. That someone is you.

"[G]ood books are desirable and . . . good writers, even if they show every variety of human depravity, are still good human beings. Thus when I ask you to write more books I am urging you to do what will be for your good and for the good of the world at large" (Chapter Six).

4.  "Greatness" is not inherent in individual people. Greatness is a potential that exists in society. Only when people exercise this potential can it ever become reality.

 "[G[reat poets do not die; they are continuing presences; they need only the opportunity to walk among us in the flesh" (Chapter Six).

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