Happy Birthday Virginia Woolf!

According to my daily email from Encyclopedia Britannica, today is Virginia Woolf’s birthday, and I just couldn’t let the birthday of one of my favourite authors go unmentioned, despite the fact that I’m trying to write up a chapter for my thesis today.  I suspect that those of you who write regularly are familiar with the agonies that I’m currently encountering.  As I try to arrange words upon the screen, I find it comforting to note that Virginia understood all too well what I am going through.

“Anyone moderately familiar with the rigours of composition will not need to be told the story in detail; how he wrote and it seemed good; read it and it seemed vile; corrected and tore up; put in; was in ecstasy; in despair; had his good nights and bad mornings; snatched at ideas and lost them; saw his book plain before him and it vanished; acted his people’s parts as he ate; mouthed them as he walked; now cried; now laughed; vacillated between this style and that; now preferred the heroic and pompous; next the plain and simple, now the vales of Tempe; then the fields of Kent or Cornwall; and could not decide whether he was the divinest genius or the greatest fool in the world.” Orlando, Virgina Woolf

Only one who truly comprehended the torment involved for those intent on writing well, could write about it so eloquently. Do you experience this kind of seesawing from rapture to despair when you write?


January 25, 2008. Creativity, Inspiration.


  1. kowsik replied:

    The closest that I have come to experience any such thing was during my Master’s thesis.

    I have never read anything by Virginia Woolf, the very little idea that I have of her is from the movie “The Hours”. Thanks for your post, I now know what I have been missing by not reading her works.

  2. amypalko replied:

    Writing can be such an emotional experience, can’t it, Kowsik! If you haven’t read any Woolf before, start with Orlando or some of her short stories. They really are a delight, and truly different from what came before her. Let me know how you get on with her writing if you decide to give it a whirl.

  3. kowsik replied:

    Started Orlando, I will be back once I finish reading it.

  4. amypalko replied:

    Oh, wow, I can’t wait to hear what you think of it! Hope you like it 🙂

  5. Awww replied:

    I can’t believe she committed suicide 😦

  6. Interview With Amy Palko: Blogger, Photographer Extraordinairre replied:

    […] Life outside the blog for me consists of a juggling act of home educating my three kids, writing up my phd research and teaching English literature for my university. I don’t necessarily engage directly with any of these, but they’re all a part of my life and consequently they colour my perspective. Many of my trips with the kids to historical sites, museums, and nature trails become photo stories. The writing up of my resear… on my own blog, but also in the 2 guest posts that I’ve written for Confident Writing and Write To Done). My teaching of literature is present through my sharing of my favourite poetry, and the occasional mention of some of my favourite authors. […]

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