value of writing

The Space To Write ā€“ Having A Room Of One's Own

Elizabeth Black
writes in a wide variety of genres including erotica, erotic romance, and dark
fiction. She lives on the Massachusetts coast with her husband, son, and three
cats. Visit her web site, her Facebook
page, and her Amazon Author Page.

—–

Virginia Woolf famously wrote in her essay “A Room Of
One’s Own” that “a woman must have money and a room of her own if she
is to write fiction”. While that premise has been criticized most notably
by Alice Walker for not recognizing class and women of color, it does provide
much insight into the conditions that may be necessary for a woman to have the
peace of mind to write in her own space.

When I was 24, I looked for my first apartment and I found
one in Laurel, Maryland, equidistant between Baltimore and Washington, D. C.
The layout of the apartment as well as the grounds in which it was situated were
important to me. I ended up getting a third floor apartment with one bedroom
and a den, which was not common in this complex. My balcony faced a lovely
courtyard full of trees. I was also directly across from the swimming pool.
After I moved in, I used to sit on the balcony after getting home from work at
dusk to watch the bats fly around the courtyard. It was a great way to enjoy a
glass of wine after a long day and relax in my surroundings.

That den was of vital importance to me because it became
my writing room. It also faced the courtyard so I could see the trees from my
window. Most mornings and at least for an hour every evening, I sat down at my
Brother typewriter and retreated into my own world. I was in a writer’s group
so I always had something to prepare. I was the sole horror writer in a sea of
romance writers, which is ironic considering today I write romances and erotic
fiction as well as horror and dark fiction. I never published anything mainly
since I had no idea where to send my stories. I merely enjoyed the art of
writing and sharing with the group.

I took the lessons I learned from having my own room and
money and applied them since. Today, I don’t have a writing room but I do have
space of my own and the means to write unencumbered because my husband is the
primary breadwinner in our household. I’m aware many women do not have that luxury.
I’m grateful that I do. Woolf might have underestimated the amount of money a
woman needed to have the freedom to write, but I recognize that she’s talking
about having the freedom to write without having to endlessly worry about day
to day troubles such as putting food on the table or paying the electric bill. It’s
hard to write when your children are going hungry. Iā€™m also aware many women
write under such conditions and do a wonderful job at it. I don’t earn enough
to support myself on my writing. I don’t know many writers who do. They need to
either have financial support from elsewhere like parents or a spouse or they
hold day jobs.

My point is that women somehow need some sort of space where
they can go to get in “the zone” to write. We’re in the process of
moving, and the apartments we’re looking at will continue to give me the
freedom to write. We live in Rockport, Massachusetts, which is on the
Massachusetts coast. I’m a five minute drive to the beach. It’s fairly
expensive to live here, and I’ve been looking for a reasonably-priced place
that isn’t a summer rental that also accepts cats. We did find a gem that would
be perfect for us, but it’s in a city nearly a half hour away from here. The
price and space were very hard to turn down, but we realized we’d give up far
too much to move out of the small town we’ve lived in for 17 years. I’d have to
give up my daily walks on the beach with my first mug of coffee for the day.
I’d give up drives along the coast. My favorite beach chocolate and ice cream
shop. Our favorite family-run eateries. The Fourth of July bonfire on the
beach. The lighting of the Christmas tree downtown complete with free cups of
hot cocoa. Santa Claus arriving in Rockport harbor on a lobster boat to greet
the town for the holiday season. I might have had a room of my own in the house
out of town, but I’d have been miserable. I can’t write when I’m miserable.

I don’t like where we now live. The entire apartment complex
is run down and the apartment itself is in dire need of repair. This new place
gives us hope. An example of it is pictured above. The grounds are lovely. I need a beautiful view. I would have difficulty feeling inspired with a view of a parking lot to the local supermarket. I can have an
outdoor garden to grow my herbs, peppers, and flowers. We might even be able to
have a smoker outside. During the warmer months, the patio or deck (depending
on whether we get a ground or second floor apartment) will become another room
where we will enjoy meals and drinks on lazy days. I can even get a laptop and
write outside if I wish.

Having the peace of mind to write is as important as the
stories I write. Although I hate where we live now, I am fortunate enough to be
in a position to write without disturbance. While I don’t have a room of my
own, I do have headphones I put on to listen to music while writing. I go
inside my head to find the inspiration I need. Once we move to a much nicer
place, I will have more freedom and more ease to write. I need that since I’ve
had a bad case of writer’s block since January, when my mother and one of my cats died one day apart from each other. I can
occasionally write, but not as frequently as I had before January. In fact, I
just finished and handed in an erotic romance fantasy story for an anthology.
So the drive is still there. It’s just hard to come by.

Virginia Woolf was on the right track when she said women
need money and a room of their own to write. I’ve found that room doesn’t have
to be a physically space for her alone. It can be a state of mind. Many women
write while living in dire circumstances such as poverty or a bad marriage, but
it is much more difficult for them than it is for a woman with enough money to
live comfortably and with support from friends and family. I’m fortunate to
have both, and I know that.

Valuing Our Work

by Lucy Felthouse

I had a conversation with someone recently that went something like this:

Woman: Oh, you’ll have to lend me one of your books to read.

Me: I thought you were buying one? (I’d previously given her a business card with a link to my website, etc)

Woman: Oh, I was. But then I thought I didn’t want to spend any money on it, in case I didn’t like it.

Me: (in a jovial tone of voice) That’s my livelihood you’re taking away.

Woman: I’m not! I just wanted to lend one, then I’d give it back.

Me: What, with sticky pages?

This then, fortunately, diverted the attention away from the conversation and made everyone giggle, and it wasn’t brought up again. But it made me think: what value is put on books? And I mean in all genres, not erotica specifically.

From what I can see, not much. Why do people balk at spending a couple of quid/dollars on an eBook (paperbacks, of course, are a different kettle of fish as they’re usually more expensive) which will hopefully give them hours of reading pleasure (and maybe other kinds of pleasure, too!), and possibly then be read again sometime in the future? Yet they’ll think nothing of spending more on a cup of coffee, which will be gone within half an hour, and not have any lasting impact on their life. The cup of coffee would have been made very cheaply, quickly and easily. Sure, it probably tastes good, but that’s it.

A book wouldn’t have been written cheaply, quickly or easily. Writing isn’t any of those things. Yes, some people can write much faster than others, but that still doesn’t make it an easy task. It’s hard work. Enjoyable, yes, but still hard work, and, most importantly, a valid job/occupation.

I wonder if this is what it comes down to: people thinking writing isn’t a proper job. Because, for the most part, we can set our own hours and have some freedom, it means it’s not real. Therefore, if it’s not a proper job, then we shouldn’t expect to be paid properly.

Naturally, people “in the know” realise this is a load of rubbish. Although I don’t write full-time, I’m gradually building up my volume of writing to boost my overall income. I don’t rely on it, because I can’t. Not by a long stretch. Therefore, it’s important that my work (and every other writer’s) is valued. Even if it’s not a full-time job, it is still a job. Just because we enjoy it, love what we do, doesn’t mean we should do it for free, or a pittance. Folk mistakenly believe that all published authors earn a fortune and therefore, what’s one freebie here or there?

Sorry, not happening. I already run quite a few giveaways on my site, in my newsletter, as part of blog hops, and so on. And they are for people actually interested in reading my work. I hope that they will read one of my books, like it, and buy another. Maybe recommend it to their friends. If they don’t like it, fair enough. Reading is subjective and, as much as I’d like to, I know I can’t please everyone. But at least there’s a chance of gaining another valuable reader. In the case of the woman above, I’m not sure I would have, regardless of whether or not she enjoyed my book. After all, if she’s not willing to spend money, take a chance on a book/writer, then she clearly doesn’t value writing.

I would love to hear your comments on this. Am I crazy? Over-sensitive? What? Should I just lend her a book?

Happy Reading,
Lucy

*****

Author Bio:


Lucy Felthouse is a very busy woman! She writes erotica and
erotic romance in a variety of subgenres and pairings, and has over 100
publications to her name, with many more in the pipeline. These include several
editions of Best Bondage Erotica, Best Women’s Erotica 2013 and Best Erotic
Romance 2014. Another string to her bow is editing, and she has edited and
co-edited a number of anthologies, and also edits for a small publishing house.
She owns Erotica For All, is book
editor for Cliterati, and is one eighth
of The Brit Babes. Find out more
at http://www.lucyfelthouse.co.uk.
Join her on Facebook
and Twitter, and subscribe to her
newsletter at: http://eepurl.com/gMQb9

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