Still coming down off the process of writing the first draft of Mommy Has Empty Eyes. Writing that draft has to stand out as the most intense four weeks of my life. Even thinking about it makes me shiver. I’m always pretty fast with my first drafts, but that’s the first that I’ve subsumed everything to the writing process, and that’s the first time that I allowed myself to explore my doubts, rather than ignoring them. I don’t know whether the result is good. Well, I know it’s good, but who knows if you’d agree. The point, though, is that it felt really good. It felt right. And coming back to real life has, in some ways, felt like a bit of a letdown. It reminded me of a passage from this essay (which is about how writing is primarily something that you do alone in a room, and that your success as a writer will depend upon how you bear up under that solitude).
The room can become a hole. Your talent of the room, your ability to be there with all your soul, can overwhelm you. Then the rest of life becomes unreal and, worse than unreal, a kind of unlife. So you find yourself writing with a very sophisticated consciousness but living in your relationships with other people far beneath what you write, because it’s gotten so you only really exist in that room and you don’t care about outside. And since you write necessarily from memory — for writing in a sense is memory, is what you cared about yesterday, or last month, or in your childhood — your lack of feeling for the present may not show up in your work for a while. But when it does, you’re through. You may still be published, still make money, still be read, but people won’t care the way they used to — and they’ll know it, and they’ll let you know it.