I spare you the twists and turns of my cogitations, for no conclusion was found on the road to Headingly, and I ask you to suppose that I soon found out my mistake about the turning and retraced my steps to Fernham.
--Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own (1929)
La perruque is the worker’s own work disguised as work for his employer. It differs from pilfering in that nothing of material value is stolen. It differs from absenteeism in that the worker is officially on the job. La perruque may be as simple a matter as a secretary’s writing a love letter on ‘company time’ or as complex as a cabinetmaker’s ‘borrowing’ a lathe to make a piece of furniture for his living room. (25)
Voting ends tomorrow. Vote for me!!!
Edited to add that I made the seminfinalist round! Hooray! Thanks so much for voting. Now, 3 Quarks Daily will send the top 8 or so on for judging.
If you are or know a disabled woman writer, please encourage her to apply!
Deadline for Kenny Fries Fellowship for a disabled woman writer to attend the A Room of Her Own Foundation (AROHO) Retreat this summer is March 1. For more info click here.
In honor of my friend, the writer and disabilities advocate Kenny Fries' 50th birthday, A Room of Her Own Foundation (AROHO) is sponsoring a scholarship for a disabled writer who without financial support could not attend the AROHO 2011 Retreat for Women Writers. Kenny will choose the recipient in an open application process.
AROHO is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that champions women writers. The suggested donation is $45. But any amount, even $5 or $10, will help us come closer to a fully funded scholarship. Donations to AROHO are tax-deductible. You can give online by choosing "Kenny Fries Scholarship" from the drop-down menu here, which will take you to PayPal. If you prefer you can mail a check to AROHO, PO Box 778, Placitas, NM 87043, mentioning that the check is for the Kenny Fries Scholarship for a Writer with a Disability.
Woolf copied these lovely lines from Wordsworth into her notebook while she was writing Mrs. Dalloway:
The matter that detains us now may seem,
To many, neither dignified enough
Nor arduous, yet will not be scorned by them,
Who, looking inward, have observed the ties
That bind the perishable hours of life
Each to the other, & curious props
By which the World of memory & thought
Exists and is sustained.
--Wordsworth, The Prelude, 7:458-65
Under the quotation, she simply wrote “Good quotation for one of my books.”
Virginia Woolf’s novel Mrs. Dalloway was published on May 14, 1925. It takes place on a single day in June, 1923, and follows the lives of two Londoners who never meet: Clarissa Dalloway, a society hostess, and Septimus Smith, a shell-shocked WWI veteran who commits suicide. Mrs. Dalloway and Septimus are connected through shared thoughts and through plot: Septimus’ doctor arrives late to Clarissa’s party, delivering news of the young man’s death.
You might not notice it at first, but Mrs Dalloway is an anti-war novel. Woolf was a lifelong pacifist and all of her sympathies are with the veteran, Septimus. Furthermore, Woolf herself suffered from occasional but severe bouts of mental illness, and knew, too well, the cruelty and inefficacy of early-twentieth-century mental health care. One of the novel’s key insights is that war has ongoing effects, years after its conclusion, on both veterans and civilians. At the end of the novel, when Clarissa thinks “in the middle of my party, here's death,” Woolf means us to hear more than just the shallow concern of a hostess; she also means us to hear Clarissa’s empathy.
If this were the book’s only lesson—that war is bad, that its damage spreads beyond the battlefield—we might all agree and congratulate ourselves that we now do slightly better by our veterans than we did a century ago.
Mrs. Dalloway has a much harder lesson to teach us, however. In contrast to Clarissa, two young women in the book take a more sanguine attitude to war. There we can find a lesson about how civilians are complicit in encouraging a culture of war. First, Clarissa’s daughter Elizabeth passes a street band and the march she hears bring her thoughts immediately to war and death. Elizabeth imagines a deathbed scene in which an attendant opens the window, lets the music in, and a dying person finds consolation in the “triumphing” march. Elizabeth’s meditation comes just pages before Septimus’s death: there, we see him struggle to open a window to leap to his death. There is no music; there is no consolation.
Elizabeth’s naivete retains some charm even as it gives us pause. By contrast, Woolf makes Septimus’ teacher complicit in his death. Miss Isabel Pole “lecturing in the Waterloo Road upon Shakespeare,” as Woolf herself had done as a young woman, encourages Septimus in his ambitions, “Was he not like Keats? she asked … and lit in him such a fire as burns only once in a lifetime.” Here, Woolf depicts something much more dangerous than a crush, for in encouraging Septimus to admire Keats and read Antony and Cleopatra, she is encouraging him towards martyrdom.
When Virginia Stephen taught at a working men’s college, she, too, had an enthusiastic young student to whom she taught Keats. But a 1907 letter describing the scene, is all jest and avoidance: “I can tell you the first sentence of my lecture: ‘The poet Keats died when he was 25: and he wrote all his works before that.’ Indeed—how very interesting, Miss Stephen.” Mocking her inane remark—and her students’ bland acceptance of it—the young Virginia refuses an authoritative voice.
Where Woolf eschewed authority, her character seeks it, down to her very name: Isabel, so queenly, and Pole, so erect. And Miss Pole’s teaching has the desired effect: it creates of Septimus a young patriot, “one of the first to volunteer. He went to France to save an England which consisted almost entirely of Shakespeare's plays and Miss Isabel Pole in a green dress walking in a square.” The fire that she has lit in him conflates poetry and a crush on a teacher with England itself. When Septimus returns from the war, traumatized and unable to feel, literature has turned to poison, and all he can think is “How Shakespeare loathed humanity.”
Mrs. Dalloway shows that music and literature can as easily be brought into the service of violence as of peace. The lessons Elizabeth and Isabel Pole draw—and teach—about music and literature feed the culture of war. However, the lesson Woolf asks us to draw, is far different: in a world at war, as animals full of violent impulses, we must refuse to be complicit in encouraging young people to martyr themselves. In 2010, as the United States continues to fight two wars and as each season brings us a new young person, inspired to do violence in the hope of martyrdom, we would do well to reread Mrs. Dalloway, and look again at what we teach and how it can work on behalf of peace.
At first, I feel a slight glimmer of hope: it was good enough for the intern to pass on to her boss. Then, dejection: two interns read it and neither one liked it. Then I go round and round, trying to imagine their process. Who is this “us” and how many of us are interns, how many editors?
Then, we move to the next level, in which I realize, alas, that “several of us have read it” is probably not a special phrase for a level two rejection, but just a gentle way of saying that they really did read it. (I always, in my desire to protect my ego, that there is some harsher boilerplate rejection letter and that what I’m reading is the one for the special rejects, the ones who have permission to try again.)
In any case, I have written a really nice editorial, which, I anticipate, is about to be rejected for the second time. I will post it here when its timeliness expires or I’ve gotten tired of trying.
As luck would have it, today is that day and it’s a dreary one. My work on Mrs. Dalloway is inching forward, but I feel uninspired. And the same must be true of my fellow scholars here in my study room at the New York Public Library: several have left earlier than usual and a few are taking longer lunches than they typically do. One scholar sat amidst books and four gum wrappers. Anything to stay alert. After a crowded few days, it’s quiet here.
So we were all surprised by a knock on the door. One young woman answered and there was Jay Barksdale, our librarian, carrying a tray with a pot of tea and a dozen cups: “Tea time!”
We all laughed nervously in this silent, silent place, Jay left, I poured, and we’re back to work.
To assist researchers making intensive use of the general research collections for a prescribed period of time, The New York Public Library has made available the Wertheim Study. Established in 1963 by author and scholar Barbara Tuchman in honor of her father, Maurice Wertheim, publisher of “The Nation” and a founder of The Theatre Guild, the Study serves individuals engaged in research projects requiring extensive consultation of research materials related to the humanities and social sciences, preliminary to the preparation of a publication, report, or other research project.
In this story King stays up working on an overdue sermon, and when he looks into the refrigerator for a late-night snack he finds ''bright yellow slices of pineapple from Hawaii, truffles from England . . . a half-eaten Mexican tortilla . . . German sauerkraut and schnitzel right beside Tibetan rice . . . macaroni, spaghetti and ravioli favored by Italians.'' Struck by how something as basic and elemental as food can represent the interconnectivity of life, King basks in this revelation only to be brought to earth by his loving wife.
My husband and I had the privilege of hearing Johnson read this story at a conference in Seattle a few years back. It was fantastic.
Please, if you write nonfiction, send us something! New deadline: January 31, 2010.
Annual William Allen Creative Nonfiction Prize
(A competition that honors William Allen, the founding editor of The Journal)
$500 and publication of the winning essay in The JournalAll styles, subject matter, forms welcome. New deadline for postmark of mss is January 31. All mss will be considered for publication. An entry fee of $10 should accompany each manuscript (make checks payable to The Journal). Max word count is 6500 words. Include an SASE.
Send submission & entry fee to:
Department of English
The Ohio State University
164 West 17th Avenue
Columbus, Ohio 43210
H.O.W. Journal is hosting its first short story contest to be judged by acclaimed author Susan Minot.Guidelines:
The contest is open to all writers and all themes. The word limit is 12,000. We do consider unpublished novel excerpts if they feel like complete stories. It's fine to submit more than one story. Manuscripts should be submitted with a cover note listing the author's name, address, phone number, and email; names should not appear on the stories themselves. All submissions should be clearly typed manuscripts, double-spaced on 8 1/2 x 11 inch white paper, one side only. Submissions will not be returned. No simultaneous or previously published work.
- 1st Place - $1000 and publication in H.O.W. Journal
- 2nd Place - $300 and publication in H.O.W. Journal
- 3rd Place - $100 and publication in H.O.W. Journal
Reading Fee per story: $20.00
Send your submissions and reading fee (a check payable to H.O.W. Journal) to:
H.O.W. Journal -- Short Story Contest
12 Desbrosses Street
New York, NY, 10013
Submissions must be received in the H.O.W. offices by May 15th, 2010. We look forward to reading your stories!
Hardy was born in 1840; Woolf, in 1882. In 1915, she had written only one novel and many, many reviews. So, she approaches him very much as a young writer approaching an elder. The letter is brief and gracious: she has a clear pretext (Satires of Circumstance  includes a poem to her father, Leslie Stephen [1832-1904]), but it’s the last line that I love:
I write only to satisfy a very old desire, and not to trouble you to reply.So graceful and grateful. That’s a real fan letter.
But the thought soon sickens me: it starts seeming like some of those crafty mommy blogs that I mostly read for schadenfreude, full of Martha Stewart-y tight extreme close-ups of the perfect peach, the porcelain mug of green tea.
In any case, I find that, in the end, I like life with a wider angle. Sitting here with a box of Dora Band-aids, a couple quarters from my husband’s pocket, my watch, a white rock, some crumbs, a bent paperclip, all on a very loud oilcloth tablecloth (huge yellow sunflowers on a blue background): Martha Stewart would need an army to fashion this into something redolent of the charms of a month in a rented house by the River.
Maybe I have to learn to dislike the fantasy of a cell, of a life apart and uninterrupted. It’s not that I don’t need time to write without children around: I do, and that’s why we hire a sitter for the mornings. It’s just that, since I am blessed with children and the desire to write, I need to strike a richer balance. That’s a banal insight, worthy of the mommy blogs themselves, but a little rougher around the edges.
The Mercantile Library is so awesome! I cannot exaggerate how much fun I had leading one of their reading groups this spring. I love teaching, but there is something really special about a non-credit class, with a bunch of adults who give up an evening just to come together and talk about a novel.
And, as all blog readers know, there is nothing more awesome than Beatrice’s own Ron Hogan.
So, when then Merc asked me if I could get Fordham to co-sponsor the Mercantile Library Center For Fiction’s Writer’s Conference, I said YES!
Now, I’m emerging from my pre-Woolf Conference flurry to encourage you to register for the conference and spread the word.
Ron has put together an amazing day of information and advice for writers. PLUS for the registration fee of $200, you also get a month of studio space at the Mercantile Library. Who is speaking? Well, the fabulous Lauren Cerand of luxlotus, Toure himself, Ben Greenman, whose been getting such amazing publicity for his funky new book. Also: the funny and wise Jennifer Weiner. And Sara Nelson, former editor Publisher’s Weekly. And the dry and intelligent Richard Nash, formerly of Soft Skull. And Sigrid Nunez, who wrote a book about Leonard Woolf’s marmoset (among other things). In short, in a single day, you have the chance to hear from novelists, publishers, publishing insiders, and publicists.
All of this is happening at Fordham’s Lincoln Center campus, my home base: 113 W 60th, just one block west of Columbus Circle. Register today and pass it on! It’s going to be great.
Well, we're actually looking for nonfiction for the next issue of H.O.W....
And there you have it: the journal launch party is next week. The journal is out. If you're in the city, come on down to the Bowery Poetry Club & celebrate. If not, you can buy a copy of the issue online: it's very pretty, features a new Susan Minot short story, really interesting visual art & much more.
Here are the details:
H.O.W. Journal Issue 4 Launch Party & FUNdraiser
A reading by the legendary Eileen Myles and the hilarious Sam Lipsyte.
A performance by Drug Rug - groove to sweet rock and roll, and pure bluesy chaos.
A silent auction with luxurious items at crazy discounts!
(DVF dress! Fancy dinners! Art!)
And just by showing up you will be supporting the work of emerging artists and writers, keeping a small non profit journal alive in a dark dismal time, AND HELPING ORPHANS WORLDWIDE.
ALL this good stuff for the low low price of $15 (or $20 dollars at the door)
May 13, 2009
Bowery Poetry Club
380 Bowery, (between Houston and Bleecker)
BUY TICKETS NOW FOR $15
Or $20 at the door!
H.O.W. Journal publishes a mix of prominent writers and artists alongside new talents with an effort to raise money and awareness for the 15 million children worldwide that have been orphaned by HIV/AIDS. We publish fiction, nonfiction, poetry and visual art.
On my desk, I have more work to do than hours in the day.
Plus, I've been sitting in my workout clothes for 3 hours.
In the absence of a proper post, I lead you to GalleyCat, where you can see a video of me talking about E.B. White.