Saturday, January 2, 2010

An unintended vacation

I haven't updated this blog in nearly two weeks, mostly because I was on vacation and, prior to that, hurriedly getting ready for Christmas. During vacation I had limited access to a computer—there were eight of us in one house vying for time on the computer. When my turn came it was always with interruptions as people walked into the bedroom/study, or usually with the feeling that someone was hovering nearby, ready to pounce on the keyboard if I even left for the bathroom.

I am sorry that we have become so tied to our computers, but I realized something important about myself: I only like to write when no one is around. Not just in an empty room but in an empty house, if possible. If that's not possible, I want to have time/room to myself with boundaries clearly demarcated. (However, I have been able to write in coffee shops, sitting by myself and intent on my work because there is no one there to interrupt me or ask me to do something for them.)

I wrote half a blog post but then couldn't finish it because the ending required that I slide into deep thought to gather my thoughts in a circular way. With people talking around me, my thoughts just kept skidding and going in obvious and superficial directions, so I gave up. I surrendered to the holiday or the idea of holiday, knowing I could make up for it later. I wrote part of a short story in my head, while trying to go to sleep at night, ready to dictate it through my willing fingers in a few days.

This recent experience has made me admire Jane Austen even more. The biography, Jane Austen, by Carol Shields, which I skimmed through last year, said that Jane would write while others conversed around her, and was quick to hide her work if anyone came into her room. She had little time for solitude. (For more, see Jane Austen paragraph in QACW). Of course, Jane Austen didn't have children and there were servants around to clean and cook. But it makes me a little sad for her that she hid her writing from her family, that it was just something she did on the side, as a hobby, and probably wasn't taken seriously at first. If she had been a man, I imagine he might have asked for and gotten time and space to himself even from the beginning. And he wouldn't have been considered an asshole for making such demands, even if he turned out to be a lousy writer.

I know this last paragraph should come to some kind of conclusion, but I have a kid here tap-dancing and talking to me about one of her Christmas presents, so I'll just have to end it where it is.

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