This post was originally published on August 6, 2010.
Interruptions are the worst pox on writing. They are errands, cooking, time with friends, time with my two small children or my husband, a snooze in the heat, a walk. All wonderful things they are, the stuff of life, but still the novel goes unwritten. How do I balance my joy and renewal after a lunch with a friend against my need to write? It feels like a constant tension. But Margaret Mitchell must have had to mend socks, and Harper Lee had to buy groceries. Still they managed to write two of the most beautiful books every written. Eventually. When I get to the end of a week that has been all interruptions and little writing, though, I only feel like an animal in a cage: clawing, irritated, trapped.
I even didn’t want to write this blog post this morning because that was another, terrible, interruption. But here I am.
Today will only be the novel. I have no idea what will get made for dinner tonight, but it’s Friday so it doesn’t matter. Frozen fishsticks only take 15 minutes in the oven.
I will go to the new branch of the NY Public Library in Battery Park, in Lower Manhattan. It has excellent wireless internet, tons of tables and is clean, bright and quiet. On my way there, in the PATH train, I will close my eyes and think about Agnes’s last conversation with her best friend, Paulina. What is Agnes feeling? What does she want? How are things changing for her? What needs to happen next? The hardest work after a week of interruptions is “listening” to the novel, to the characters, and reclaiming the same voice as I continue writing.
Agnes…. are you there?