“A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.”
This quote comes from Virginia Woolf’s extended essay A Room Of One’s Own, where Woolf explores the topic of women and fiction. The quote is also the basis of a non-profit organization called A Room of Her Own, which works to help women writers succeed and tell their stories.
According to their website, “AROHO is a growing collective of women bonded by a common goal: to transform ourselves and others through the sharing of individual gifts, as readers, administrators, funders, artists, authors. Even when women are viewed as equal contributors to the legacy of art and literature as Virginia Woolf imagined, our mission will remain, and perhaps be even more important. When barriers are removed we’re confident that the mission will just get bigger.”
Darlene Chandler Bassett founded AROHO in 2000. Bassett met Mary Johnson – the catalyst for the formation of AROHO – at a Ghost Ranch where they both signed up for a group called a Circle of Women. Both women carried Virginia Woolf’s essay, A Room Of One’s Own, with them to the group. When the group asked Johnson what she needed, she answered by quoting Woolf, “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” According to the website, “Darlene came to Mary’s room later and said, ‘That room of your own? I can help you with that. And together we’ll build an organization that helps women tell their own stories.’”
Since its founding, the organization has created awards, fellowships, and opportunities for women writers. The organization has also “inspired thousands of books and works of art by women.”
AROHO is in the middle of a transition period. Because of this, the new AROHO board has temporarily suspended some of their awards and programs as they strive to reinvent themselves, grow the organization, and create bigger and better ideas. As Bassett explains, “We strive to be better, braver, and more honest about what it takes to make new beginnings.”
AROHO has created a new program called the Waves anthology, which is a book featuring collections of poems and stories by AROHO women. The working title is Waves: A Confluence of Women’s Voices, Inspired by Virginia Woolf, and featuring Maxine Hong Kingston. According to AROHO, “This book will work toward ending our isolation from each other, and will make our native wisdom and our power even more visible out in the culture at large.”
All women, published or unpublished, are invited to submit their creative works. Visit the website to learn more about the Waves anthology and how to submit your work. To get involved with the organization, you can donate directly to AROHO, or you can donate by purchasing items from their store.
Women writers have been, and continue to be, inspired by this organization’s efforts and Virginia Woolf’s words. Writers should always remember that, “so long as you write what you wish to write, that is all that matters; and whether it matters for ages or only for hours, nobody can say.”
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