For the last two weeks I've been writing about physical and temporal space, the connection between where we write and when we write. This whole thing was inspired by an LA Times essay called Susan Straight On Learning to Write Without a Room of One's Own. The A Room of One's Own part of that title is a reference to Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own, a lengthy essay (I still have two sections to read) about women and fiction. A Room of One's Own has a closer connection to another recent essay, "Sponsored" By My Husband: Why it’s a Problem That Writers Never Talk About Where Their Money Comes From by Ann Bauer in Salon than it does with Straight's.
Why? Woolf may have used "room of one's own" in her title, but what she actually said in her essay was "a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write
fiction." It's quite a terrific essay, if you can get past her streaming away to discuss eating in restaurants. What she writes about is male privilege throughout history and how it kept women from even being able to put pen to paper. (She does a great sort of historical evolution of women's writing.)
Bauer talks about privilege and writing in our own time, meaning writers of both sexes who have financial support, usually through family. They, or I should say, we, don't have to generate income to provide for ourselves or others. We have the money Woolf said we needed.
Now writers have managed to produce good work without the privilege of possessing money and a room. We need a Room of One's Own type of essay about them. But putting them aside, what, exactly, does privilege do for writers who do possess it?
It buys us time.
Woolf recognized lack of privilege as the problem for women writers that it was in the past and often still is in the present. Bauer recognizes that denying that there are privileged writers today does a disservice to all the writers struggling without it.
I have a new obsession, now. This one is with Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own.