You Can't Live There

I’m pretty certain you cannot live in the same place you write. Now, I don’t mean you cannot physically live in the house/ office/ coffee shop/ park bench, etc where you write, but that you cannot stay there if you have to also be, in your other time, a functioning human being.  If you go grocery shopping in the same 'space' you write, you will a difficult and touchy customer.

Writing requires some dropping down into that other place, the place that is messy and chaotic and full of feelings and observations and pain and humor and mud and desert and all that stuff that we cannot bring to the grocery store.

We probably shouldn’t bring it to the dinner table either and give more credence to the classic picture of the brooding alcoholic unwashed cranky writer who is a lousy companion.

So if you have other responsibilities in life and have to switch between several roles you have to learn how to drop down, stay long enough to come up with a story, a character, a sentence even, and then emerge from that place, like Persephone out of Hades, and interact like a normal human being.

I need quiet to write--- I prefer to have the house to myself and not have to chatter or check in with the other people---- but this is not always possible. If I want to produce something I have to have time to submerge into that writing space and root around in the dark for memories or characters or bits of conversation that can lead to a story. Sometimes I have to manage that when I don't have the house to myself, but I find that needs the cooperation of an understanding family who can tell by my expression that I am elsewhere and not available for chatter.

Naturally there are exceptional writers, such as Jane Austen, who managed to produce classic literature while balancing a writing box on her lap and exchanging witticisms with her companions.  But I am not Jane Austen.  And from what I gather, very few can manage that wonderful feat.

I imagine writers like Jane Austen have an ability to be in two places at once, while sitting in the parlor.  She must have been able to navigate between her writing self and her social self.  What a gift.  A rare gift, I should say.

But I'm pretty sure that if I was always in writer mode I'd turn into a curmudgeon and miss out on the lighter side of life. Not to mention getting groceries in for dinner.