I've also been working through Virginia Woolf's diaries -- Volume III at the moment and mostly as a complement to having read The Waves. I was struggling to figure out how I wanted to think about her wonderful book -- I couldn't assent to analysing it -- I never can with books that I love -- and I'm starting to figure out how to speak of this. I was having trouble accepting that there was a creative process behind this -- an idealisation I perhaps fall into too easily. A friend reminded me of the diaries wherein she speaks of her process -- and of the problems and quirks of writing.
I read these diaries already -- all of them -- while I was in New York, but I read them swiftly, on subways and while eating desk-meals. I know how much I've missed -- that's the overwhelming realization of re-reading -- having missed, overlooked, forgotten. But it's a sort of joy and so I will enjoy this experience of learning something more. There's that quote -- education is wasted on the young -- it's partly true -- education is wasted if it is seen to be terminal. It's never finite, there's always a loop.
But what I wanted to say was that I've been rediscovering the beauty of Virginia Woolf's diaries.
September 30, 1926[and also]
I wished to add some remarks to this, on the mystical side of this solitude; how it is not oneself but something in the universe that one's left with. It is this that is frightening & exciting in the midst of my profound gloom, depression, boredom, whatever it is: One sees a fin passing far out. What image can I reach to convey what I mean? Really there is none I think. The interesting thing is that in all my feeling & thinking I have never come up against this before. Life is, soberly & accurately, the oddest affair; has in it the essence of reality. I used to feel this as a child -- couldn't step across a puddle once I remember, for thinking, how strange -- what am I? &c. But by writing I dont reach anything. All I mean to make is a knot of my curious state of mind. I hazard the guess that it may be the impulse behind another book. At present my mind is totally blank & virgin of books. I want to watch & see how the idea at first occurs. I want to trace my own process.
March 14 1927
I must record the conception last night between 12 & one of a new book. I said I would be on the watch for symptoms of this extremely mysterious process. For some weeks, since finishing The Lighthouse I have thought myself virgin, passive, blank of ideas. I toyed vaguely with some thoughts of a flower whose petals fall; of time all telescoped into one lucid channel through wh. my heroine was to pass at will. The petals falling. But nothing came of it. I shirked the effort -- seemed to have no impulse that way, supposed that I had worked out my vein. [and more]