Virginia Woolf


How did I come to write about 19th-century Arctic exploration? It started with a song, as I explain in my essay “The Idea of North.” One thing led to another, and I was off on a tangent of research & reading, trying to make sense of such a diverse body of findings.

Surely, some might think, she’s not going to be able to fit Virginia Woolf into this one! But my work has a strong literary component, and Woolf belongs by virtue of my quest starting while I was staying in her home village and by a not-surprising-when-you-think-about-it connection in A Room of One’s Own.

The result was this piece, just published in The Baltimore Review, but my fascination with the subject continues, and I continue to read about polar ice and cold and the people who pursue it from the safety of sunny San Diego. Read “The Idea of North” here.

After having an essay published last year in Spry Literary Journal, I was invited to contribute to Spry’s ABC series. Writing for Beginners and Fiction Writing would be followed by the ABCs of Creative Nonfiction, and I could write on the letter of my choice.

I quickly claimed the letter “M” with its myriad manifestations–memoir, memory, motivation, and metaphor, to name just a few. And what about mentors and muses? I’d written a chapter, “A Muse of One’s Own,” for the 2014 book Writing after Retirement (yes, of course I spotlight Virginia Woolf!)–so I adapted it for this project.

My link is to the entire list–I’m reading through them, & you may want to do the same. My favorite so far is “A is for Accoutrements” by Spry’s editor, Erin Ollila. But before you get distracted, click here and scroll down to “M is for Mentors and Muses and Models, Oh My!”

I acknowledge in my essay that the topic has been done to death, & I ask what I could possibly add to it. My own take, that’s what, which draws not just from personal experience but from my reading: Virginia Woolf, of course, and others I admire–like Doris Grumbach and Rebecca Solnit–who’ve pondered and pontificated on the subject.

“Solo in Seattle” is the result, a meditation and homage, published in the latest issue of The Tishman Review. You’ll find it linked here, on pages 109-113.

With thanks to my friend and mentor, Priscilla Long, who not only makes my solitary retreat possible but whose encouragement and own writing are constant sources of inspiration. See you in July, Priscilla…!

My discovery of the obscure mid-20th-century novelist Isabel Bolton led to extensive research and an exploratory essay. I wasn’t surprised when early in my search I discovered critics’ comparisons of Bolton to Virginia Woolf, and when I read the first of Bolton’s modernist novels I could indeed see similarities in style and theme.

“In Search of Isabel Bolton” was jointly published this month by Bloom (linked here), one of my favorite sites for obvious reasons: a focus on late bloomers, qualified by the question “‘Late’ according to whom?”, and in the esteemed online magazine The Millions (linked here).

This project, on the heels of an earlier piece about Lillie Coit, is leading me into new territory in my writing, more research-based essays. I can hardly wait to see what happens next!

Several months ago I responded to a call for submissions on “Books that changed my life” at an entertaining and eclectic site called The Drunken Odyssey – a podcast about the writing life. Virginia Woolf’s A Writer’s Diary changed my life dramatically more than 25 years ago. This was a great opportunity to tell my tale outside of the usual Woolfian circles—to preach beyond the choir.

My husband is a musician with a home studio, so he recorded the piece, edited out my faltering and fumbling, and added guitar and sound accompaniment. The segment was published this month in Episode 189 of The Drunken Odyssey (linked here). It starts with a lengthy discussion about Lawrence Ferlinghetti. If you want to skip ahead, I’m at the end, starting at about 51:50.

 

 

 

My previous post omitted the link to the essay – I’m starting over….

Creature of habit that I am, the first morning of every visit to San Francisco starts with a walk to North Beach, breakfast at La Boulange, hanging out for a while in Washington Square to watch the Chinese women going through their exercise routines, then up the steep-stepped hill to Coit Tower.

My fascination over the last few years has led me to delve into the history of the tower, its murals, and the woman for whom it’s named, Lillie Coit. My essay, “Lillie’s Legacy,” is published in the Winter issue of 1966, a journal of research-based creative nonfiction that I’ve long admired.

And how does Virginia Woolf fit into my story about Lillie Coit? Read it here.

Creature of habit that I am, the first morning of every visit to San Francisco starts with a walk to North Beach, breakfast at La Boulange, hanging out for a while in Washington Square to watch the Chinese women going through their exercise routines, then up the steep-stepped hill to Coit Tower.

My fascination over the last few years has led me to delve into the history of the tower, its murals, and the woman for whom it’s named, Lillie Coit. My essay, “Lillie’s Legacy,” is published in the Winter issue of 1966, a journal of research-based creative nonfiction that I’ve long admired.

And how does Virginia Woolf fit into my story about Lillie Coit? Read it here.

 

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