A funeral and a two-day headache start this year, but then she whips up some ideas for what will become A Room of One’s Own, and finishes the first draft of Orlando. “There will be three months of close work needed, imperatively, before it can be printed; for I have scrambled and splashed and the canvas shows through.” She has a relatively work-free spring, seeing a lot of friends she doesn’t necessarily want to see, is “avid only of green fields, the sun, wine; sitting doing nothing.”
Home from a trip to France, where she feels her mortality, sense of, and begins to fantasize about pen and paper again, she runs into her friend Mirrlees, Hope and learns that Hope’s mentor and housemate, the scholar Harrison, Jane Ellen, has just died. “She lay dead…in that back room where we saw her lately raised on her pillows… exalted, satisfied, exhausted…and now to work and work, as hard as I can.”
Reading Othello she admires “the volley and volume and tumble of his words; too many I should say, were I reviewing…He abounds. The lesser writers stint.”
Orlando is done, and she is surprised when Woolf, Leonard almost likes it better than To The Lighthouse. She’s not all that thrilled by it herself, gets fed up with the revision process, feels she hasn’t tried hard enough with it but also can’t be bothered, and then the preorders aren’t much because booksellers think it’s actually a biography.
Leonard Xes someone else — MacCarthy, Desmond –because VW calls him “mouldy and…depressing,” talks about his missing tooth, the hole in his sock, and his arrogant convictions–“if his view is the right one, God knows there is nothing to live for: not a greasy biscuit.”
sales of Orlando leap the moment it comes out. It becomes incredibly popular, aristocrats have her to tea, and she’s under pressure to write more of the same. By December a third edition is underway, and she’s getting used to the feeling of having money to spend.
But the beautiful summer was unproductive. She’s tired of fiction, wants to write other things, can’t write, can’t read, becomes frustrated with her lack of productivity, starts to ferment new ideas again and think about the nature of reality again, and her approaches to style, so I have a lot of mulling over pages, deciding what she’s talking about without stating, per se. Waves, The is the next book brewing, but this year she’s still calling it Moths, The — so I have them cross-referenced. Her writing mind is back in gear, powering along: “I am surprised and a little disquieted by the remorseless severity of my mind: that it never stops reading and writing…is too professional, too little any longer a dreamy amateur.”