My theme this year is the ABCEDARIA of Women who have inspired me.
W is for Rebecca West
Rebecca West was born Dec.21, 1892 in Kerry, Ireland.Her book Black Lamb and Grey Falcon is called a travel book but it is unlike any book I have ever read. Like the densest of chocolate, it demands to be savored slowly. I had it by my bed for just under a year. I simply couldn't consume it without lots of digestion time in between reading bouts. I also had to read great chunks of it out loud to my dear guy. West would take something she and her husband had seen on their six week trip to Yugoslavia - say a small church or the cornice on a government building and before you could see what she was up to - you'd have traveled with her back centuries into the history of that place. The trip coincided with the Nazi invasion of Yugoslavia. Her grasp and passion for politics and history carry you along until she has deposited you right where she wants you to be. Her private life was anything but - she had a ten year affair with H.G. Wells that gave her her only child, a son. She married in her thirties and stayed with her banker husband until he died but the last years were troubled and unhappy. She lived until she was 92 and was productive her whole life. Happy? I don't think so but brilliant, passionate and engaged - yes. Oh and we share a birthday which gives me a very particular and peculiar thrill - an unearned excitement.
and Virginia Woolf - what can I say about this woman that hasn't been said a million times? I am so inspired about her views on writing and women. A Room of One's Own is a constant companion. To the Lighthouse is a wonder of a book and I could spend a year or two reading and rereading Mrs. Dalloway. I was first inspired by her when I read about The Bloomsbury Circle. Her innovative approach to writing is deeply thrilling. Her writing about writing is something that I think of daily. Here is something she wrote that Ursula Le Guin addressed in one of her essays. I've put it here before but it needs reminding of. It is from The Letters of Virginia Woolf, volume 3.
Style is a very simple matter: it is all rhythm. Once you get that, you can’t use the wrong words. But on the other hand here am I sitting after half the morning, crammed with ideas, and visions, and so on, and can’t dislodge them, for lack of the right rhythm. Now this is very profound, what rhythm is, and goes far deeper than words. A sight, an emotion, creates this wave in the mind, long before it makes words to fit it; and in writing (such is my present belief) one has to recapture this, and set this working (which has nothing apparently to do with words) and then, as it breaks and tumbles in the mind, it makes words to fit it. But no doubt I shall think differently next year.
Now there you are! Two inspirational writers - born in the same time period - neither particularly happy (Woolf suicided at the age of 59, stones in her pocket to the bottom of the River Ouse) but both feminists, creatives, political and engaging. Now I need to get back to my own writing! How about you? Any inspiration out there?