Why indeed, I thought guiltily. Why leave home to write? Especially when you’re paying to just go to a musty old cabin up the road. Where you have to keep Pandora playing so you don’t hear the mice skittering overhead. Where you work outside on the deck so you don’t have to inhale mousiness all day. Where you feel scared by the woods around you when you go for a late afternoon walk to clear your head.
Why do I need to be scared and alone and frightened to finish a book?
It’s a different kind of energy, I tell my friend. I need to cinch everything together. I can’t be distracted. I need a single consciousness, an adult in the room to take responsibility.
This is not a weekend spent writing. It’s more about a weekend spent killing possibilities. Shooting my darlings. It’s hunting season, a month early. Bang bang. You can’t be everything to me, my darling. I have to let you go.
I want to throw this baby into traffic. Walk or die.
That’s not very fun.
Why be alone?
Discipline. Staying the course. I need to shave away daily life, to swerve away from my books and study and the shawl on my chair. My fleece jammies, my foods and my coffee maker. The meadow and the apple trees and the garden withering into decay. An attic full of the past. A closet full of the present. I need to get away from that to enter this.
Finishing a book is like packing up an apartment. Saying goodbye to stuff you don’t want to tote around anymore, things you can’t stand to unpack one more time. The endless decision-making is exhausting.
So here’s to ruthlessness and beheadings, to goodbyes and swan songs. As Florida Scott-Maxwell says in her brilliant slim tome, Measure of My Days, “Life does not accommodate you, it shatters you…Every seed destroys its container or else there would be no fruition.”