For a lot of English Literature students around the world, Virginia Woolf’s “A Room of One’s Own” is mandatory reading material. In the essay, Woolf talks of how women writers were at a disadvantage versus their male counterparts, because they lacked financial and physical freedom.
According to Woolf, women could not afford much privacy, and neither were they allowed to travel alone out into the world, so they lacked the experiences and world-views male writers collected. For a woman from 1920s, she was obviously quite right in postulating that theory – that to be a writer, you needed a room of your own.
The room is a metaphor for freedom. But like hundreds of naive aspiring young writers around the world, I took Woolf’s ideas rather literally as a 19-year-old. Even now, a lot of people have this notion – that to write or create art, you need to have a room with a beautiful view to be inspired, it could be by the sea or somewhere in the mountains. People have ‘writing retreats’ for aspiring authors, where they can isolate themselves in a pretty cabin in the woods somewhere, to write in peace.
Fortunately for me, this silly notion in my head was challenged a few years later. It was when I read about how famous author Stephen King came upon the idea for his debut fiction novel ‘Carrie’, which went on to sell millions of copies around the world. King came upon the idea while working as a janitor in a High School. At this point of his life, he wasn’t financially well of at all and neither had he traveled around the world. He was a poor nobody, with nothing but ideas in his head, and the will to write them down into stories.
While talking about my book “Love, Loss, Lockdown” at an online art event recently, I spoke about the Woolf Vs King outlook to writing. The basic idea was to convey that it doesn’t matter where one is, ideas can come to us anywhere… all one needs to do is start. Just start writing. Wherever you are. Any corner could serve as a room of your own.