“…to write and make money.” Katherine Mansfield, journal entry New Years Day, 1915.
A woman after my own heart! Or perhaps I am after hers, considering she was here first. But if I had to choose two things to do this year, it’d be writing and making money (so I can go to Canada!). Actually, can I make that my two wishes for the rest of my life? Better yet, I could combine them into wishing to make money from writing. That’d be the ultimate wish.
I feel a weird connection with Katherine Mansfield. Growing up, we had a portrait for her on the wall, and I had no idea who she was, but I thought she was beautiful. I have a feeling it goes beyond sharing a town and a country (Katherine was born down the street from where I live). It’s more than an outlook on life, an understanding. It’s the fact that we knew from the start that we were writers, and that little mattered more.
Listen to this:
“Looking back, I imagine I was always writing. Twaddle it was too. But better far write twaddle or anything, anything, than nothing at all.”
Aha! Yes, I have written a lot of crap in my life. (Every single diary I’ve ever had, for example). But sometimes it’s not even about what you produce, it’s just that you have to write. There’s no other option. And if you weren’t writing, it’d be far too agonizing to bear. So you’ll have to forgive me if, sometimes, this blog is twaddle. I can’t help myself. It’s a disease. (Fortunately, it’s not contagious. No, you can’t have my talent. Kidding!)
The National Library where I work has a huge collection of Katherine Mansfield material and paraphernalia. Oddly, we have a lock of her hair and some of her clothing, and her typewriter. More interestingly, we have original manuscripts written by her and to her, and paintings, photos and other images of her.
We studied Her First Ball and The Garden Party in high school. I was partial to neither. I found the men to be grotesque (particularly the old man in HFB, if that’s how they looked to Katherine no wonder she became a lesbian). The woman were superficial and mean. I suppose Laura isn’t, which is why she’s different, but her differences are not embraced by anyone, least of her all herself.
I did enjoy At The Bay, maybe because here Katherine’s sexuality becomes evident, and the men are bumbling, weak fools. (uh oh, her feminism is living through me!).
Katherine was very good friends with another of my favourite authoresses, Virginia Woolf. It has been said that Woolf could never have written Mrs Dalloway but for her relationship with Katherine. Oh, to have a dinner party with those two! (On reflection, I imagine it’d be utterly depressing. It’d have to before Katherine was ill and Virginia became obsessed with suicide).
I wonder if one day someone will study my writing in school and hate every word. What an honour.