Thursday, 31 July 2014

Saturday 27th March 1937

Merely scribing here, over a log fire, on a cold but bright Easter morning; sudden shafts of sun, a scatter of snow on the hills early; sudden storms, ink black, octopus pouring, coming up: and the rooks fidgeting and pecking in the elm trees. As for the beauty, as I always say when I walk the terrace after breakfast, too much for one pair of eyes. We came down on Thursday, packed in the rush in London; cars spinning all along the roads; yesterday at last perfect freedom from telephones and reviews, and no one rang up.


Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Saturday 31st December 1932

Yes, of course this autumn has been a tremendous revelation. It was a great sense of liberation. Well - it is always doubtful how far one human being can be free. However, I secured a season of intoxicating exhilaration. Nor do I intend to let myself pay for it with the usual black despair. I intend to circumvent that supervening ghost - that which always trails its damp wings behind my glories. I shall be very wary. To suppress oneself and run freely out in joy - such is the perfectly infallible and simple prescription. And to use one's hands and eyes; to talk to people; to be a straw on the river, now and then - passive, not striving to say this is this. If one does not lie back and sum up and say to the moment, this very moment, Stay you are so fair, what will be ones gain, dying? No: stay, this moment. No one ever says that enough. I am now going in, to see L. and say Stay this moment.


Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Monday 13th June 1932

Back from a good week-end at Rodmell - a week end of no talking, sinking at once into deep safe book reading; and then sleep: with the may tree like a breaking wave outside; and never a person to be seen, never an interruption: the place to ourselves: the long hours.


Monday, 28 July 2014

Friday 4th January 1929

Now is life very solid, or very shifting? I am haunted by the two contradictions. This has gone on forever: will last forever; goes down to the bottom of the world - this moment I stand on. Also it is transitory, flying, diaphanous. I shall pass like a cloud on the waves. I am impressed by the transitoriness of human life to such an extent that I am often saying a farewell - after dinner with Roger for instance; or reckoning how many more times I shall see Nessa.


Sunday, 27 July 2014

Sunday 12th August 1928

Yesterday at Charleton we had tea from bright blue cups under the pink light from the giant hollyhock. We were all a little drugged with the country: a little bucolic I thought. It was lovely enough - made me envious of its country peace: the trees all standing securely - why did my eye catch the trees? The look of things has a great power over me. Even now, I have to watch the rooks beating up against the wind, which is high. And still I say to myself instinctively 'What's the phrase for that?' But what a little I can get down with my pen of what is so vivid to my eye.


Saturday, 26 July 2014

Tuesday 20th December 1927

Nessa's children's party last night. The little creatures' acting moved my infinitely sentimental throat. And yet oddly enough I scarcely want children of my own now. This insatiable desire to write something before I die, this ravaging sense of the shortness and feverishness of life, make me cling, like a man on a rock, to my one anchor. I don't like the physicalness of having children of one's own. I can dramatise myself as a parent, it is true, And perhaps I have killed the feeling instinctively; as perhaps nature does...
Yes, I repeat, a very happy, a singularly happy autumn.


Friday, 25 July 2014

Monday 21st March 1927

Edith Sitwell came to tea: transparent like some white bone someone picks up on a moor, with sea water stones on her long frail hands which slide into yours much narrower than one expects like a folded fan. She has pale gemlike eyes; and is dressed, on a windy March day, in three decker skirts of red spotted cotton. She half shuts her eyes; coos an odd little laugh. All is very tapering and pointed, the nose running on like a mole. She said I was a great writer, which pleased me. So sensitive to everything in people and books she said. She got talking about her mother blaspheming in the nursery, hysterical; terrible; setting Edith to kill bluebottles.She is a curious product, likeable to me: sensitive, etiolated, affectionate, lonely, having to thread her way (there is something ghostlike and angular about her) home to Bayswater to help cook dinner. In other ages she would have been a cloistered nun; or an eccentric excluded country old maid.


Thursday, 24 July 2014

Saturday 20th March 1926

But what is to become of all these diaries, I asked myself yesterday. If I died, what would Leo make of them? He would be disinclined to burn them; he could not publish them. Well, he should make up a book from them, I think; and then burn the body. I daresay there is a little book in them; if the scraps and scratches were straightened out a little. God knows. This is dictated by a slight melancholia, which comes upon me sometimes now, and makes me think I am old; I am ugly; I am repeating things. Yet, as far as I know, as a writer I am only now writing out my mind.


Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Friday 15th August 1924

I don't often trouble now to describe cornfields and groups of harvesting women in loose blues and reds and little staring yellow frocked girls. But that's not my eyes' fault; coming back the other evening from Charleston, again all my nerves stood upright, flushed, electrified (what's the word?) with the sheer beauty - beauty abounding and superabounding, so that one almost resents it, not being capable of catching it all, and holding it all at the moment.


Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Friday 17th February 1922

I meant to write about death, only life came breaking in as usual. I like, I see, to question people about death. I have taken it into my head that I shan't live till seventy. Suppose, I said to myself the other day, this pain over my heart suddenly wrung me out like a dish cloth and left me dead? - I was feeling sleepy, indifferent, and calm; and so thought it didn't much matter, except for L. Then, some bird or light, I daresay, or waking wider, set me off wishing to live - wishing chiefly to walk along the river and look at things.


Monday, 21 July 2014

Sunday 5th December 1920

Then both so popular, so well known, so much respected - and Leonard forty, and I nearing it, so there's not much to boast of. In my heart, too, I prefer the nondescript anonymous days of youth. I like youthful minds; and the sense that no one's yet anybody.


Sunday, 20 July 2014

Monday 25th October 1920

(first day of winter time). Why is life so tragic; so like a little strip of pavement over an abyss? I look down; I feel giddy; I wonder how I am ever to walk to the end. But why do I feel this? Now that I say it I don't feel it. The fire burns; we are going to the Beggar's Opera. Only it lies about me; I can't keep my eyes shut.It's a feeling of impotence: of cutting no ice. Here I sit at Richmond, and like a lantern stood in the middle of a field my light goes up in darkness. Melancholy diminishes as I write. Why then don't I write it down oftener? Well, one's vanity forbids. I want to appear a success even to myself. Yet I don't get to the bottom of it. It's having no children, living away from friends, failing to write well, spending too much on food, growing old - I think too much of the whys and wherefores; too much of myself. I don't like time to flap round me. Well then, work. Yes, but I so soon tire of work - can't read more than a little, an hours writing is enough for me. Out here no one comes in to waste time pleasantly. If they do, I'm cross. The labour of going to London is too great. Nessa's children grow up, and I can't have them in to tea, or go to the zoo. Pocket money doesn't allow of much. yet I'm persuaded that these are trivial things: it's life itself, I think sometimes, for us in our generation so tragic -  no newspaper placard without its shriek of agony from some one. Unhappiness is everywhere: just beyond the door; or stupidity which is worse. Still I don't pluck the nettle out of me. To write Jacob's Room again will revive my fibres, I feel. And with it all how happy I am - if it weren't for my feeling that it is a strip of pavement over an abyss.


Saturday, 19 July 2014

Wednesday 7th January 1920

L. has spent most of his time pruning the apple trees, and tying plums to the wall. To do this he wears two jackets, two pairs of gloves; even so the cold bites through. These last days have been like frozen water, ruffled by the wind into atoms of ice against the cheek; then, in the shelter, forming around you in a still pond.


Friday, 18 July 2014

Wednesday 30th October 1918

Just in from a walk in the Park on this incredibly lovely autumn day. We talked of peace: how the sausage balloons will be hauled down, and the gold coins dribble in; and how soon people will forget all about the war, and the fruits of our victory will grow as dusty ornaments under glass cases in lodging-house drawing rooms.


Thursday, 17 July 2014

Wednesday 18th September 1918

I saw them from behind, a shabby, homely, dowdy couple, marching with the uncertain step of strength just beginning to fail, she clutching his arm, and looking much older than he, in her angularity. Their clothes looked ill dusted, and their eyes peering in front of them.


Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Sunday 8th September 1918

Poor old Bunny! He is as if caked with earth, stiff as a clod; you can almost see the docks and nettles sprouting from his mind; his sentences creak with rust. He can only lay hands on the simplest words. However by dint of kindly treatment we softened him. We wanted to know about mushrooms; and upon all funguses he is an authority.


Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Sunday 3rd January 1915

I think patriotism is a base emotion. By this I mean that they played a National Anthem and a hymn, and all I could feel was the entire absence of emotion in myself and everyone else. If the British spoke openly about WC's, and copulation, then they might be stirred by universal emotions. As it is, an appeal to feel together is hopelessly muddled by intervening greatcoats and fur coats.I begin to loathe my kind, principally from looking at their faces in the tube. Really raw red beef and silver herrings give me more pleasure to look upon.


Monday, 14 July 2014

Virginia Woolf

Yesterday was an incredibly emotional day, full of splendour but also sadness. I came to the end of the diaries of Virginia Woolf; the genius modernist author of the 20th Century.
I had been living with her, in her every day jottings for many weeks, trying to read as much as I could squeeze into an evening after work. I feel so privileged to have been able to get hold of these diaries, these very personal outpourings from her day to day life. I read from 1915 up until the day before she tragically drowned herself.

What can I say about such an incredible artist? She filled the world with her words, her thoughts, the things she saw and loved. She has given me many things: first of all she would always try to 'find the phrase' for things, 'things I see'. I love this, when you write yourself you see the relevance of finding the words to describe on your tongue. When I see wonder or beauty or ugliness, anything that touches me, I shall try to find the phrase for it.
 Secondly she had a wonderful talent at describing people; the way they looked or found a metaphor for the way their smile worked, such fluent unforgettable pictures were conjured up in my head because of her literate, imaginative mind. She would sit listening to her guests and would describe them in her mind, thinking all the time of how fascinating everyone was.
 Thirdly, she has encouraged me to write all the time. To keep writing, even when busy, just to write, write write, think and write, speak it out, write it down, that is how we grow in our gifts.
 Fourthly, she adored her friends and family so much, in a simple straight forward way that they knew she needed them and they needed her.
 And finally, there is the fact that underneath she was an ordinary human being with extraordinary talent; she was humble; refusing publicity, literary honours. She lived every day to find something that was worth that living.

 She has touched my life because her soul runs through everything she writes and I couldn't help but think I knew her, as an intimate friend.

So to thank Virginia for her time with me and to show the world how beautiful she was and still is, I would like to post one quote, every day from her diary for the next couple of weeks. These entries are ones that inspired me, fascinating me or just brought something to life.

So Virginia- here's to you.