Writer’s Quote Wednesday – Virginia Woolf

I know, I know, I’m late, but I really wanted to put some thought into this week’s quote. It’s a simple quote but sometimes the simplest things can be quite profound. This week’s Writer’s Quote Wednesday is dedicated to the great Virginia Woolf.

Adeline Virginia Woolf, born on January 25th, 1882 to a privileged family of free-thinking parents, was an English writer and one of the foremost modernists of the twentieth century. She began writing at an early age and published her first novel, The Voyage Out, in 1915. She became famous for her nonlinear prose style, especially noted in her novels Mrs. Dalloway and To the Lighthouse.

I am again ashamed to admit I have not read yet another classic writer. I have always wanted to read Woolf’s work but I wasn’t sure if her work was something I’d be in to. What I do know is that Woolf, as a person, has fascinated me. THroughout her life Woolf suffered from mood swings and severe bouts of depression. She is thought to have had what is now known as bipolar disorder.

Woolf is said to have had a confrontational relationship with her doctors. She may have been a victim of “male medicine”. In her time there was a relative lack of understanding when it came to mental illness and the treatment she was given may not have been what she needed. It is believed that she was sexually abused by her half-brother’s when she was young and that may have contributed to her mental state.

She eventually committed suicide, by drowning, in 1941 at the age of 59.

I like to have space to spread my mind out in.

– Virginia Woolf, from a diary entry dated 5 September 1926.

I can’t say exactly what Woolf means by “spreading her mind out” but it means something very specific to me. There are times when my thinking feels like something that happens physical. It feels like octopus tentacle reaching out and searching here and there for something to feel and explore. The tentacles are of course covered with suckers on one side that stick to and pick up things.

My mind literally feels like it spreads out into the space around me, or into the book or article I am reading, or into and around the person I am talking to. It explores the environment and collects the shiny and interesting bits for later. When I get home and everything gets quiet all those bits get brought out of my minds pockets and are spread out, categorized, and put away for later.

The quote also made me think about how I use the spaces I call my own. Our spare bedroom has come to be called the “creative room” by my girlfriend. I have two desks, a book shelf, a small area for crafts, two chairs for reading in, and my snakes, Delilah and Ava, are housed in there. I thought I would write in there but lately I have found I like to write on the couch next to my girlfriend instead.

I still need the room but I don’t use it for what I had originally thought I would. I find that when I go in there I like to just sit at the desk, and look out the window, and think. Or I swivel around in the chair and I play some music. Or I put my feet up and read some essays. I take a lot of notes in there too. I have realized it isn’t so much the place I go to do my “serious work”, I go in there to let my mind wander, to let it spread out.

I have also been thinking that with summer finally coming around, and with it the urge to spend my evenings outside under a tree in the cool grass, maybe there are other places I could spread my mind out in too. IT’s possible that with more space to spread out in my mind might go further. I’d love to have my mind fill up a whole park, or maybe a space by a peaceful lake, hell why not take a drive out west and let my mind take up a whole mountain side!

We all need space to spread our minds out in. For creative types this is where the magic happens, it might even be considered the “real work”. Human brains have to get lost sometimes, that how we stubble upon something interesting. So go spread out somewhere, and then write about what you find.


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