We’re honored to have Gloria Bennett guest-author today’s A Room of One’s Own celebration. Bennett is a creative writing professor at UNG. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and has appeared in a number of literary journals and reviews.
I was introduced to Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own as an undergraduate, and her words continue to inspire me. For me, the spirit of the essay is the emphasis on women having a dedicated private workspace. We need a quiet place, a room of our own, in order to write, to create, to map out our goals, and to pursue our dreams. If we’re going to succeed, we have to figure out a way to free ourselves from day-to-day distractions and commitments on our time.
I have a dedicated room in my home that serves as an office, but I use that space to grade my students’ compositions, and to work on lesson plans and other duties. While necessary in my line of work, these activities keep me from pursuing my art and making progress towards my own creativity.
Last spring, tight deadlines required me to finish the first draft of a book-length memoir I had spent the previous four summers working on. I began looking into writers’ retreats, applied to a handful, and was awarded a brief writer’s residency at an educational center and artist retreat in northwest Georgia, located in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.
For three days and two nights, I was the only guest on the premises. I stayed in one of several cottages, which was equipped with everything I needed for my stay: a fully furnished kitchen and bath, a comfortable bed, and a cozy writing space. I was surrounded by natural beauty, which inspired me to continue my writing project. When I needed a break from my work, I went for long walks through the woods on well-established trails, or sat in a rocking chair on the front porch to take in the mountain views. With the exception of the grounds keeper, who came to check on me at least twice a day, I was completely alone. The only other signs of life were the wildlife that ventured near my cottage.
As of this writing, I’m planning a similar trip for late May of this year—to the mountains of northern Alabama—for writing and reflection. Financial support systems like these are so important to writers, and other artists, who are seeking a room of their own to transform their craft into art, a thing of beauty for others to enjoy.