A Room of Her Own

“… and then she looked around at the faces around her. They were supposed to be family but she had never felt more alone. Their eyes judged her every move, heads shaking disdainfully at her. The voice that she thought was protecting her was only in her head. All she heard was…”

“Footsteps!” yelled Ide, alarmed.

I rushed to shut the journal I was writing in and the pen flew from my hand. It landed beside the door frame just as Father walked in.

“What are you doing? Are you writing?”

“No, I was just tinkering with something I read earlier, that’s it.”

“What do you need the pen for?” he said as he picked it up and walked out of the room.

“Now he’s going to be suspicious about what I have been doing! It’s not fair!”

I kept the journal under my pillow and pulled out a book with an ambiguous title. When I was sure I was alone with Ide, I put away the book and sat up straight. “You remember when we read Virginia Woolf’s ‘A Room of One’s Own’? I loved every single thing that she wrote and the way she wrote it. But I never thought it could be applied today. We’re living in an urban society in the 21st century. Surely women are free to do whatever they wish, and they are given equal opportunities.”

Ide looked at me pathetically. “That’s just an impression created by media and you know it. It’s a cycle. People have their own ideologies but they look at media and they think that’s how they should behave but, that’s just a masquerade. Put them in a life-or-death situation, and they will reveal their true colors.”

“But giving me false hope and then pulling the rug from under my feet? I don’t think there’s anything crueler. They are always so guarded about what they say around me and then there’s all the apprehension about what I am doing all the time!”

“They’re just worried that your isolation may be driving you crazy. They think that you have all these unresolved thoughts that you share with no one and you may be going cuckoo.”

“Are you saying I’m crazy?” I got up and looked in the mirror.

“I’m just saying that you need to cover up your tracks better. You think that writing is your release, your vent. For all you know, they might have read something you wrote. And I’m not the first to tell you that you do follow the unconventional,” Ide walked out of the room.

I heard my name being called, and left the room frustrated.

I felt like I was in an interrogation room. Mother and Father sat across from me like a panel. Something was up. The air suddenly became thick and stifling.

“We’re concerned about you,” began Mother.

“Worried, in fact,” interrupted Father, but kept quiet after one stern glance from Mother.

“About what?!” I said, a tone more hostile than I intended.

“That right there. You seem to have something on your mind all the time, and you spend a lot of time in the room, when we’re out here. You never stay in the same room we are. And you’re always writing in that book! What do you even write about?”

“Does it matter? Just tell me what you want,”

“You need to watch your attitude, first of all. But you need to get out of that room. You are secluded and you isolate yourself from the world…”

I said nothing. In fact, I tuned out the entire speech. I couldn’t care less what they said. I wanted to get out of the room and run away. Virginia Woolf was right. A woman needs a room of her own – one with a door and a deadbolt on. I wasn’t pushing anyone out, I just needed my space.

“…and all that getting into your head must be driving you crazy!”


“We’re not saying you’re crazy but you seem to talk to yourself and you have these mood swings and when you go out, you’re a different person than you are at home.”

“I don’t talk to myself! I only talk with Ide and you know that! Where’s Ide?” I was tipsy from the surge of blood rushing to my head.

“What are you talking about?” asked Mother and Father looking truly disturbed.

Ide stood in front of the mirror, staring at me.

“What are they talking about, Ide? They think I’m crazy! Say something!”

My eyes suddenly looked at her reflection in the mirror, or lack of one. The room swam around me into a mocking face. When I looked back, Ide was gone. Ide was never there. The face mocked me, “You thought Ide was real? I-D-E: I Don’t Exist!”


An Ugly Clock

There is a clock that hangs on the living room wall. It has not been there from before. Someone may have put it up recently. I hadn’t paid much attention to it earlier – but now, I can honestly say that it is the ugliest contraption that I have ever laid eyes on.

A guest came in last week. When the awkward silence succeeded his conversation with the host, he looked up at the clock and beamed, “Why, that’s a most proper-looking clock I have seen”. Lost in thought, I was suddenly pulled into the present, wondering what had brought on this sudden change in matter. I was offended at how pretentious human beings had become in the present century and more so at how acceptable it was by Society.

The awkward ugly thing now glared dismally at me. Its second hand moved without a sound – its numbers were not etched. “Quite modern indeed – one of those Avant-garde creations that is supposed to turn heads. Simply magnificent,” the guest drawled on. I was annoyed at this over-reactive guest and his feeble attempts at conversation – but mostly because of his conceited character that shown through immediately.

What an abysmal person to be critical of the clock! If I hadn’t known any better, I would have been agreeing with him. The hostess was a naïve middle-aged woman who would believe the boy who cried wolf every time. This is the kind of innocence you would see in very few people. The sting came with how proud the hostess was at her innocence. “I don’t believe there can be anyone more gullible than me. Why, you could pickpocket me in front of my very eyes, and I wouldn’t have the slightest idea,” she giggled.

What it must be like to look at a clock and believe the first thing another says about it. Even if you were physically captured, your mind remains eternally free – transcending all restraint. How terrible to submit that freedom to the dominance of another!

if it doesn’t come bursting out of you
in spite of everything,
don’t do it.
unless it comes unasked out of your
heart and your mind and your mouth
and your gut,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit for hours
staring at your computer screen
or hunched over your
searching for words,
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it for money or
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it because you want
women in your bed,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit there and
rewrite it again and again,
don’t do it.
if it’s hard work just thinking about doing it,
don’t do it.
if you’re trying to write like somebody
forget about it.
if you have to wait for it to roar out of
then wait patiently.
if it never does roar out of you,
do something else.

if you first have to read it to your wife
or your girlfriend or your boyfriend
or your parents or to anybody at all,
you’re not ready.

don’t be like so many writers,
don’t be like so many thousands of
people who call themselves writers,
don’t be dull and boring and
pretentious, don’t be consumed with self-
the libraries of the world have
yawned themselves to
over your kind.
don’t add to that.
don’t do it.
unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
don’t do it.
unless the sun inside you is
burning your gut,
don’t do it.

when it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by
itself and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in you.

there is no other way.

and there never was.

Lesson 2: Combating Writer’s Block

A beginner can face all kinds of troubles when it comes to writing their first work. In spite of your age, when you are first instilled with the idea to write, the self-confidence that goes along with it is very important for your follow-through. It would become very easy to give up especially after you’ve hit your first writer’s block.

Writer’s block is only a part of the process. The best way to combat this is to write when you are most inspired – this could be at any time of the day including 2 a.m. Gabriel Garcia Marquez said, “One of the most difficult things is the first paragraph. I have spent many months on a first paragraph, and once I get it, the rest just comes out very easily.” The first paragraph is also important in luring the reader into the story.

If you usually sit down to write at 9 p.m. daily after your chores and realize that you’ve hit a block, try writing at a different time of the day – maybe earlier in the morning. Make sure you follow the writing habit closely every day. Keeping a gap will only create disjointedness and make you lose your flow of thought.

The best source of your inspiration is other writers. Therefore, read for inspiration. If you find yourself stuck in terms of language, you can gain inspiration from any piece of good literature. To go a step ahead, read a bit of the classics. The contexts and settings of the Classics always use beautiful language; it may help you think more creatively. However, if you are stuck with regard to concept, you may have to continue doing your research.

Sometimes, you have the idea of your plot, but you reach a roadblock on how to phrase it in the most appealing way possible. In this case, write down your story in its most crude form. When you have a mental map of all the roads and alleys your plot may take, you will be much more ready to begin writing your story.

Set a timer for half-an-hour or fifteen minutes and try to write an essay on a simple topic. Then, grade yourself according to your standards of vocabulary, originality and creativity. This exercise can help you in the long run.

Don’t force yourself to write when you see that the effort is going nowhere. Take a break and immerse yourself in something completely unrelated. Give it time.

The most effective way, if you can access it, is to find a writing mentor. Show them manuscripts and journals so they get an idea about your writing style and can help guide you better.

Take physical care of yourself. Make sure you get enough sleep and drink a lot of water so that you have more than sufficient oxygen flowing through you. Take a walk or jog for a while so you have the blood circulation in your brain gets your creative juices flowing.

Writer’s block can hit the best of us. I’m talking about Coleridge, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Tolstoy, Woolf and Mansfeld who all faced writer’s block.

“What I try to do is write. I may write for two weeks ‘the cat sat on the mat, that is that, not a rat,’… And it might be just the most boring and awful stuff. But I try. When I’m writing, I write. And then it’s as if the muse is convinced that I’m serious and says, ‘Okay. Okay. I’ll come.’” – Maya Angelou