In 1928 writer Virginia Woolf presented two essays to audiences at women’s colleges. Her book, A Room of One’s Own is an expanded version of these two essays. The text focussed on women and fiction and at its centre is its famous thesis; the idea that a woman needs a room of her own to write. The essays and the text are widely considered to be ‘classic’ contributions to the feminist movement.
Whilst Virginia Woolf’s purpose in writing the text was to address the historical and contemporary question regarding women’s art and their social status at this time, there are things to be drawn from the concept for every woman today.
As more and more women return to their homes to combine the dual roles of ‘mother’ and ‘worker’ (i.e. in home based businesses), the idea of securing space within their home for their work is as relevant to today’s woman as it was for women in the 1920’s. It is not that a woman cannot develop and express her creativity with her family around her (although that can be extremely difficult), it is more a case that family life can be all-consuming for a woman. What mother has not lamented the loss of herself when she became a mother? Having a ‘room of one’s own’ gives a woman a place where she can be true to herself, in touch with herself and there for herself.
Today most mothers combine the role with their careers or jobs and increasingly women are looking for opportunities to ‘work from home’ in an effort to reduce the stress that can come from working outside the home. In my role as Director of Education with the International Academy of Wedding & Event Planning I speak to women everyday who are looking for a way to achieve a better balance between home and work. So just like Virginia Woolf and the women she first wrote for, many women today are once again faced with the question of how to make working from home, ‘work’. The women before us had less of a choice in these matters than we do today, but the same dilemmas exist for us all; how do you be both a woman and a mother inside the home. According to Virginia Woolf the answer lay in having a room of your own; a space that is uniquely yours and where you can be someone other than, mother, wife, daughter, partner.
If you are a woman who is seeking to work from home, or who is already doing so, do you have a room of your own? If not this is something you should be seeking for yourself. One of the challenges most of us who work from home face is to separate home and work. In the early stages of working from home this may not seem so important, but trust me the novelty of working from home, from the dining room table will soon wear off when you have spent more than a week or two there.
If you have read Virginia Woolf’s novel you will know that the concept of a ‘room of one’s own’ does not require you to find an entire room of your own in your home. Instead look for a space that you can dedicate to yourself. If this is a room, great, but if all you can manage is the corner of your garage, or an ‘office in cupboard’ in a nook somewhere in your home, that is fine. As long as you do things to make that space uniquely yours, you will be embodying the spirit of ‘a room of one’s own’.