Thoughts for Thursday – Woolf on writing

From a letter by Virginia Woolf, on writing:

One must renounce, you say…Ah, but I’m doomed!…It is not possible now, and never will be, to say I renounce. Nor would it be a good thing for literature were it possible…The human soul, it seems to me, orientates itself afresh every now and then. It is doing so now. No one can see it whole, therefore. The best of us catch a glimpse of a nose, a shoulder, something turning away, always in movement. Still, it seems better to catch this glimpse, than to sit down with Hugh Walpole, Wells, etc. etc. and make large oil paintings of fabulous fleshy monsters complete from top to toe…I mean , life has to be sloughed, has to be faced: to be rejected; then accepted on new terms with rapture. And so on, and so on; till you are 40, when the only problem is how to grasp it tighter and tighter to you, so quick it seems to slip, and so infinitely desirable it is. …One must renounce, when the book is finished; but not before it is begun…I was wondering to myself why it is that though I try sometimes to limit myself…to the things I do well, I am always drawn on and on, by human beings, I think, out of the little circle of safety, on and on, to the whirlpools; when I go under.

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