A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf

Over the years, I’ve heard much of A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf. I agreed with oft-quoted passages. I thought the idea of Shakespeare’s literary sister Judith intriguing. But I never took the time to read it. I was a bit put off by the very feminists quoting dear ol’ Virginia. I didn’t consider myself THAT radical.

Now that I’ve entered middle-age, I decided that I was that radical after all and reading it proved that I was indeed without a doubt.

Ms. Woolf wrote this extended essay in 1929 and the thoughts contained herein were undoubtedly shocking at the time. She maintained that women didn’t have the means nor the time to be able to pursue writing of any kind with a few notable anomalies. She mentions the Bronte sisters, Dorothy Osborne, Jane Austen, George Eliot and Lady Winchilsea as exceptions having both the education and means to become writers. 

She also proposed that the best writers were androngynous, although I wasn’t entirely convinced by her argument on that topic. I believe that a talented female writer is better able to write about experiences unique to women than an equally talented androngynous male writer. 

So how much of what Ms. Woolf wrote is true today? Certainly we’ve progressed to the point where women have the time and income to devote themselves to writing books, haven’t we?

It seems there are still some gender bias when it comes to publishing. (See Bias, She Wrote:The Gender Balance of The New York Times Best Seller list) Books about women win fewer literary awards. (See BOOKS ABOUT WOMEN DON’T WIN BIG AWARDS: SOME DATA) The majority of literature studied in high school was not written by women. (See Here’s The Problem with White-Male-Centric School Reading Lists

So even though there are more women writers, I can’t say that all things are equal yet.  Would you?

Whether you consider yourself radical or not-so-radical, A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf is well-worth a read.

How many of the women writers on this list have you read? (See 50 Great Women Writers) I’ve read 21. 

Write Your Book at Fifty: A Call to Women- Discover Your Voice, Open New Doors, Create Your Legacy by Jeanette E. Martin

According to Joseph Epstein, “81 percent of Americans feel that they have a book in them — and should write it.” (200 Million Americans Want to Publish Books, But Can They?)

Jeanette E. Martin’s book Write Your Book at Fifty: A Call to Women — Discover your voice. Open new doors. Create your legacy. will inspire you to leave behind the masses and join that small percentage who don’t just dream about writing a book, but do it!  

Being a woman, and being fifty years old, you’ve already done incredible things, things more difficult than writing a book. So what’s stopping you? Fear? Inexperience? Self-doubt? Time? All of those are just excuses. You are worthy. You are capable. You have something to share. You can leave a legacy behind.

While I’m not 50 yet, I am approaching that age. I’ve also just recently begun publishing books. There has been a huge learning curve as I master each technical aspect of publishing, let alone the writing part. I was incredibly inspired after reading Write Your Book at Fifty to keep at it, despite the challenges.

After all, look at the company I keep!

Mary Ann Evans, AKA George Eliot, published her first novel, Adam Bede, at age 40. Annie Proulx, published her first novel, Postcards, when she was 57.  Laura Ingalls Wilder published the first book, Little House in the Big Woods, when she was 65. (15 Famous Authors Who Were Published After 40)

Toni Morrison, published her first novel, The Bluest Eye, when she was 40

Helen DeWitt published The Last Samurai at 41. Anna Sewell published Black Beauty when she was 57. (14 Brilliant Authors who Didn’t succeed until Way after 30)

Elizabeth Jolly published her book of short stories Five Acre Virgin and Other Stories at 53.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas published The Everglades: River of Grass at 57.(Famous Authors Who Were First Published After 50) Harriet Doerr published her first novel, Stones of Ibarra, when she was 74. (11 Writers Who Started Late)

So if you are at all toying with the idea of writing a book, pick up a copy of Jeanette Martin’s Write Your Book at Fifty and get started on your dream!