What would the perfect day look like for an author?
One Sunday in the 1920s, Virginia Woolf writes a revolutionary work in a villa in Sussex, near London, England. Let's explore how she struggled for inspiration, what she thinks while writing, and what happens when she takes a walk through London town.
8am, awakening to the calm and cold air. The new day always begins with a slight sense of nervousness. Like crossing a garden with a kettle full of clear, deep water. Moving your feet carefully. But soon you run into someone, and the water will spill.
The most important thing to do in the morning is to take a bath. When I fill the bathtub with hot water and immerse myself, all the thoughts that ghosted around me through the night catch up to me. I ask questions, and I answer them. Louis, who helps with housework, may be eavesdropping on this conversation. They say that when I take a bath, it seems like there are three more people in there with me. The guest I invite to the bathroom today is Mrs. Dallaway. 'Madam, how are you going to start your day?' 'First of all...I'm going to go buy flowers for myself!’
It's not some great secret, but it’s something I want to share with anyone who wants to create. We should continue to dream as much as possible and remain unconscious for as long as possible.
At 10 a.m., after having a light breakfast with my husband Leonard, I start writing. A woman needs 500 pounds a year to become a writer and her own room. I'm lucky to have both. I inherited a distant relative's estate and bought a villa in Sussex, the Monks House, and built a pretty cool writing room. It's a cozy space overlooking the garden through a large window. I can lock the door here and start working when I’m completely alone.
I try to live an extremely quiet and regular life. If there is nothing special on Sunday, I will continue with my writing silently. I want to wake up at the same time every day, eat at the same time, write at the same time, look at the same faces, and read the same book. Imagine me sitting at my desk for minutes and hours, as if I were hypnotized. Perhaps by now, most other women in London have become domestic angels, cleaning and sweeping their rooms or preparing family meals. Unlike them, I ended up getting rid of the angels in the house. I grabbed them by the neck and tried my best to kill them. Even in court, I'll say self-defence. Otherwise, the angel would have stolen the heart of my writing.
Now, I find a purple ink pen on the badly tangled desk and hold it in my hand. There are 100 pages of manuscripts that need to be completed in three weeks. If I’m unlucky, the bells in St. Peter's can be so loud that I can't even concentrate. There are days when I write as if I’m possessed by mysterious immersion even though there was a bombing outside. There are good days and bad days in this job. I have to write anyway.
1pm, it’s lunch time. If you concentrate completely, you forget to put something in your mouth. But if a visitor comes, you have to stop what you’re working on, no matter what.
Sir Harold Nicholson is here today. He is a diplomat living in a castle that looks like it’s from a fairy tale. He is a good friend, but I like his wife even more. My heart for Vita is much deeper and more ardent than Harold’s, so why can't we live together? It's no secret that Harold has a long-term male lover. Like Leonard and I, Harold and Vita are colleagues who play the social role of husband and wife.
Three people who share a strange camaraderie sit around the garden and drink tea together. Leonard, who is more familiar with serving guests than I am, tells a long story of the dishes he bought during his trip to Mantua, Italy. The sale was forced by an old woman who popped out of nowhere, so it wasn't a pleasant memory. I miss Vita.
4pm. It's great to have guests, but the best moment is when you send them home again. As soon as the guests leave, I prepare to head out. "I really need to buy a pencil," I shout as I grab my coat. No one has ever wanted a pencil as intensely as I did then.
I'll show you how to take a walk in London. The time should be afternoon, and the season should be winter. Open the door of your familiar house and come out. Only then can you throw away the self that your friends know. You can walk away from the things in the house that require you to recall unwanted memories. It's all gone when the door closes. With only your two eyes left, you can embrace the beautiful streets of London to your heart's content.
Let's head to a second-hand bookstore on Strand Street. Dickens likes it, too. Enjoy the thoughts and delusions that pop up every time you turn the corner of the alley. Let's set up an imaginary house in front of your eyes and decorate your room as much as you want. You can cross the Waterloo Bridge and go somewhere far away forever. I continue my adventures while I fall into fantasies of being blind, becoming a street singer, being a washerwoman.
You always need a pencil-like excuse to not get lost. What did I come out for? I arrive at the second-hand bookstore when I feel like it. Get a pencil and come out and go back. I’m in front of that familiar door again. When you open the door, everything stays the same. I saw all the brilliant treasures in this city, but I only brought a pencil.
9pm. After dinner, I stay in my room alone again. I don't know how great writers wrote at night. I've tried it, but I just felt like I was getting old. There are good things to do in the evening. I read a book or write a letter. I secretly take out the heart that I had hidden under the river during the day. I fall asleep after completing the sentences that I wrote, erased, and repeated several times. Looking forward to repeating the same day again tomorrow.
Yes yes yes I do like you. I am afraid to write the stronger word. - Virginia, to Vita