On Finding Comfort in the Diaries of Virginia Woolf
From the WMFA Podcast with Courtney Balestier
Writing can be lonely work; WMFA counters that with conversation. It’s a show about creativity and craft, where writer and host Courtney Balestier talks shop with some of today’s best writers and examines the issues we face when we do creative work. The mission of WMFA is to explore why we writers do what we do, so that we can do it with more intention, and how we do what we do, so that we can do it better.
In this week’s episode of WMFA, host Courtney Balestier takes comfort in Virginia Woolf’s diaries, which resonate with our current moment.
From the episode:
Usually I talk here about the writing process and the emotional and mental challenges that can surround it, but everything is an emotional and mental challenge right now. So this is going to be a new process, another way of looking at writing and creative life, and I appreciate your patience as I—we—navigate it.
My therapist recently recommended that I try a journaling practice again for its personal and spiritual value, but also as a record of this extraordinary time. It didn’t occur to me that I have been seeking all of this personal and spiritual value record-keeping in another journal for quite some time now, that Virginia Woolf. Woolf is one of my literary heroes, and over weeks, months at this point, I’ve been reading A Writer’s Diary, a collected volume of her journal entries. I’ve been reading it slowly, only in the early morning, a few pages at a time with my first cup of coffee. …
They do not necessarily offer guidance or clarity to me. They’re more like reflections, not the precise reflections you’d get from a mirror, but the looser ones you might get from the surface of a lake. These passages are all from 1940 during wartime. Not the same as a pandemic, of course, by any means, but with fear and uncertainty, the spirit of eerie unease that feels familiar enough to me a careening between the abstract weight of the world and the daily work of writing.
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