Virginia Woolf

1 January 2017

To characterize my own personal writing style, I need to reflect on my education background and how those instances shaped my writing. My upbringing, unlike that of Virginia Woolf, was in a nurturing and secure home where I had room to freely think and grow. Woolf was brought up in a strict Victorian setting with parents who thought strongly about education and punishment. Virginia saw at an early age that if no one obeyed or listened to the authority of their parents, Leslie Stephen and Julia Princep Duckworth, punishment and isolation would ensue (VWSociety ofGB). I, on the other hand, had the freedom to receive a public education.

This may have impacted me in a more positive way than Woolf’s upbringing, but there were also negative effects of my education towards my writing. Despite Woolf’s mental illness and her restrictions as a child, she was very productive as a novelist and an essayist and her brilliance in writing with commentary on women and her ability to use stream of consciousness made her a literary figure.

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I would like to point out that Virginia Woolf was born with a natural talent to convey her thoughts and feeling in writing and she was she was exceptional at creating pieces that had the dynamic of her own self-reflection and fiction (Rose xii).

I look up to this sort of writing style; I want to be able to reflect my own creativity and self-reflection into pieces of writing that are unique and fascinating. I have never thought of myself as a particularly outstanding writer, but I can relate to the perfectionist personality of Virginia Woolf. Woolf’s first novel, The Voyage Out, had the metaphorical link between her voyage out as a writer and as a woman. Her first novel had to prove to herself and to others that she was capable of a full commitment to her work and that she could be taken seriously (Briggs 4). Virginia wanted to defy the conventional methods of riting during her time, and found that having a signature modernistic view on her writing style gave her much more freedom and allowed her to cast aside rigid structural plot methods (Briggs). I want to be able to take this approach in my writing and be able to have this ability to creatively flow my personal experiences eloquently throughout my writing. This Virginia Woolf quote from A Room of One’s Own, has really explained Woolf’s writing process; “So long as you write what you wish to write, that is all that matters; and whether it matters for ages or only for hours, nobody can really say.

But to sacrifice a hair of the head of your vision, a shade of its color, in deference to some Headmaster with a silver pot in his hand or to some professor with a measuring –rod up his sleeve, is the most abject treachery, and the sacrifice of wealth and chastity which used to be said to be the greatest of human disasters, a mere flea-bite in comparison” (Reese). This quote describes how Virginia Woolf believes in writing what you feel and writing what you want, no matter the circumstances. Mine and Woolf’s views on writing have different perspectives, yet I still can relate to her writing styles.

Modernistic writing and novels were becoming more prominent in the 20th century. Modern writing was considered more of an art form and serious compared to the traditional novels. The world was changing; literature needed to change too, if it was to properly and honestly convey the new realities in the world . Virginia Woolf believed this and knew that her writing could convey a new meaning and create a change in the way people viewed literature. Virginia was insightful and was also very successful at being a literary critic; she firmly believed society has to have a grip on limiting opportunities of successful female artists and writers.

Her drive to put her words and ideas out in the world by the way of creating unique novels and essays really strikes me as bold and making a difference, and that’s all I really want to achieve with my writing; put my own thoughts out where people can understand where I come from and how I got there. Although I don’t suffer from manic-depression, I understand where Woolf’s insecurities and thoughts stem from. Her childhood sheltered her and she thought that she did not receive the public education that she deserved.

Her feminist views explain her feelings towards this, the novel, A Room of One’s Own; she argues that talented female writers face the two impediments to fully realizing their potentials: social inferiority and lack of economic independence (Briggs). It is evident that Victorian society had a pull on Woolf’s personality and writing, though my education background did revolve around these Victorian views so my writing does not reflect such deep and personal experiences. I want my writing to have a more personal flow to it and I want to be able to use Virginia’s stream of consciousness style to better benefit my writing.

Values and thought processes in my writing are more superficial and contain more a simplistic view, I know this and I want to change it. I write from my personal views yet I know how to define my audience and write correctly according to that. Growing up, I was not taught to put too much stress on writing concepts and development, my family is not particularly centered on academic achievement and I was never pushed to know everything about writing. In school, my teachers had an incredibly big influence on how my writing style should be.

I was taught to write to please the test or to just please my audience, I know now that I want to be able to write on a more personal and enjoyable level, while still maintaining a proper vocabulary to continue to grow my writing skills. Research is one of the main ways I am able to expand my knowledge on certain topics and to learn, but forming my own opinion based on this research and bringing my own personal experiences to the writing is something that I have to work on. This is why Woolf’s writing and personal views have led me to rethink how I create my opinions and how I use my experiences to better influence my writing.

Woolf’s poetic stance towards her writing creates an elevation of ordinary circumstances, the plot and the narrative is almost shadowed by the characters consciousness. For Heaven only knows why one loves it so, how one sees it so, making it up, building it round one, tumbling it, creating it every moment afresh; but the veriest frumps, the most dejected of miseries sitting on doorsteps (drink their downfall) do the same; can’t be dealt with, she felt positive, by Acts of Parliament for that very reason: they love life (Spark notes 2004).

This quote, from Mrs. Dalloway, proves that Woolf had a way with streaming the characters thoughts directly by using long flowing sentences. This writing style is very deep and reflective; it leaves more room for interpretation and style than narrative. I believe Virginia was greatly influenced by her sister, Vanessa. She appears to almost be a maternal figure in Virginia’s life, and she greatly looked up to Vanessa. Their mother’s death had a huge impact on Virginia and it shows in her writing, such as the novel; To the Lighthouse.

When she no longer thought she could look up to anyone she made sure that she could live up to and please her sister (Rose 164). Woolf thought that she could never win her sisters approval and that hit a nerve because Virginia believes that she led a very dreary existence, only writing and pondering and writing some more. Another aspect of Virginia’s life was her view on marriage and maternity. Woolf viewed marriage, especially her marriage, as an emotionally timid relationship and merely a companionship of sorts.

Woolf mentioned in her diaries “I scarcely want children of my own now. This insatiable desire to write something before I die, this ravaging sense of the shortness and feverishness of life, make me cling… to my one anchor. I don’t like the physicalness of having children of one’s own” ( Rose 165). This came after being around Vanessa and her children; she realized that having children would bring her nothing. She had a conflict of whether the role she had as an artist and the role she felt as a woman was going to reject everything she had stood for (Rose 166).

Virginia’s demons finally took over and in 1941; at the age of fifty-eight she committed suicide. Some suicides seem more rational than others, but to know what was happening in Woolf’s own mind and perception is impossible. “Virginia Woolf drowned herself, a victim of her own excessive sensibility” (Rose 244). Woolf did not suffer from war-time tension or family history or bad reviews, but instead suffered from the invasion of her own mind. Her mind ran free and her writing was her escape, her own escape to allow her to free her thoughts and feeling without the fear of being judged.

Virginia Woolf’s delicate state of mind but her brilliant ways of writing have influenced me greatly in the way I perceive my own experiences and I cherish my upbringing. If she speaks to me in one specific way it would be that her fears speak for other people’s fears, her ups and downs relive with others and she speaks for a class and not just or herself alone and because she formed her life around one thing; to write. “Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind is written large in his works. ” -Virginia Woolf

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