During a brief visit to the Baltic Sea last week I sought inspiration for my nascent writing career from Virginia’s Woolf’s classic A Room of One’s Own. Books can remain on the “must read” list for a long time, sometimes years, until there is an event that triggers the impulse to slip them off the shelf and onto our nightstand. In this case it was the sense of being smothered by my three boisterous kids and my XXL husband in our small apartment. Since I can’t seem to pluck my eyebrows or put on my pajamas with any measure of privacy, it seemed a good time to seek guidance from a great writer who didn’t shy away from touting the material needs of a woman who has creative aspirations.
Money and privacy are what a woman needs to produce great works, says Virginia. This was no trivial claim to make nearly 100 years ago, especially as she looked back through the years and pondered why so few women had been writers. These days I struggle to find the physical and mental space to express myself. And when I do create a written work, I face one of the other great challenges Virgina Woolf wrote about — “the world’s notorious indifference.” The world “does not ask people to write poems and novels and histories; it does not need them,” she says. Yes, I sometimes succumb to moments of doubt and discouragement about whether my voice will be heard in the world.
But writing about my experiences as a German American Jewish woman in Berlin has inspired me to discover and share the stories of others who have reclaimed their German citizenship. I hope to put a book proposal together in the coming months. I derive courage from Virgina Woolf and her assertion that “a thousand pens are ready to suggest what you should do and what effect you will have.” I am also fortunate that the Jewish Writing Project has been a great source of encouragement and has graciously offered to share some of my work with its readers. Here is a link to a recent essay about my evolving identity: http://jewishwritingproject.wordpress.com/2011/10/17/the-tapestry-of-self/.