I spent six anguished days working virtually nonstop to squeeze out barely 900 words. Most of that time I spent in a high pulse-rate pace around my apartment, waiting for conditions to clear just enough to let out a sentence. I realized that my writing at age 28 was a lot like my golf game as a teenager: a single gust of wind and it went to Hell.
Here’s what Eugenides should have added by way of closing: the so-called writer has to wear all sorts of hats: writer, reader, editor, negotiator, businessman, self-promoter, etc. And only the first of these hats should never be worn outside one’s private necropolis. The next two have the odd responsibility of communing — patiently, cautiously, and courageously — with the dead self. The rest must find of way of coming to terms with life among the living.
Writing might initially happen in a vacuum, but books emerge and live somewhere very different. To ignore all this is at best wishful thinking and at worse self-sabotage…Eugenides’s decision to ignore this vast reality is less troubling than another feature of his advice: that it comes from the Pulitzer Prize winner himself. After all, Eugenides can write inside his make-believe casket and enjoy the spectacle of his well-attended funeral, too.
I was very happy to get your letter, and my mom sent me your story which I want to get to but things have been so busy lately, what with school here and all those demands, and I’ve been flying around doing readings, and always feeling that I’m not devoting enough time…