Virginia Woolf & Self-publishing

Today, I re-read Virgina Woolf`s famous essay “A room of one’s own” to encourage myself to write. Although the text was published in 1929, Woolf’s main points about women and fiction writing are still valid.

A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.

Why did men drink wine and women water? Why was one sex so prosperous and the other so poor? What effect has poverty on fiction? What conditions are necessary for the creation of works of art?

Writers need time, space and money, and even if a writer can finish a manuscript, he or she needs a publisher and an audience.
Woolf and her husband set up their own publishing house “Hogarth Press” in 1917. It shows that self-publishing is not a new phenomena. I am planning to self-publish my own books because it gives me more freedom and control over my creative work and process.

Nowadays, wealth and social status do not necessarily determine if a writer is able to publish his/her own books. However, there are still many people who do not have access to education, a computer, the internet, or they lack time, space and money.
In her essay, Woolf gives the example of Shakespeare’s sister to demonstrate what happens if a person is not giving the chance to write.

I told you in the course of this paper that Shakespeare had a sister; but do not look for her in Sir Sidney Lee’s life of the poet. She died young—alas, she never wrote a word. She lies buried where the omnibuses now stop, opposite the Elephant and Castle. Now my belief is that this poet who never wrote a word and was buried at the cross–roads still lives. She lives in you and in me, and in many other women who are not here to–night, for they are washing up the dishes and putting the children to bed. But she lives; for great poets do not die; they are continuing presences; they need only the opportunity to walk among us in the flesh. This opportunity, as I think, it is now coming within your power to give her. For my belief is that if we live another century or so—I am talking of the common life which is the real life and not of the little separate lives which we live as individuals—and have five hundred a year each of us and rooms of our own; if we have the habit of freedom and the courage to write exactly what we think; if we escape a little from the common sitting–room and see human beings not always in their relation to each other but in relation to reality; and the sky. too, and the trees or whatever it may be in themselves; if we look past Milton’s bogey, for no human being should shut out the view; if we face the fact, for it is a fact, that there is no arm to cling to, but that we go alone and that our relation is to the world of reality and not only to the world of men and women, then the opportunity will come and the dead poet who was Shakespeare’s sister will put on the body which she has so often laid down.

Hopefully, every person will be able to write down his/her own stories one day.


10 thoughts on “Virginia Woolf & Self-publishing

    1. Hi Ben! Great to hear that you like my articles. Of course, I can tell you more about it. I cannot find your contact details. Can you give me your mail address or send me a message through my contact page? I am interested in your story, too. Jen

  1. I agree with you on this: “Hopefully, every person will be able to write down his/her own stories one day.” Well, let me add “publish.” There are many interesting stories out there, and most end in a publisher’s trash can. 😦

    I hope I can publish my own stories someday. I’ve already started to write my first collection of short stories.

  2. I have so many manuscripts sitting on my shelf waiting to be published. And you’re right, a writer needs space to right; it’s difficult to do with distractions. Keep writing, and good luck!

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