A drenched bird, writing: Edmund White in the Paris Review

I’m in such a bad mood over both David Bowie and Alan Rickman that I can’t even. And I’ve gone and confused myself in Chapter Three, when just yesterday I was boasting to wonderful former student (now wonderful professor, Stephanie Frank) that I though I had a hold on it.


I’m pretty set on trying to write a little each day this semester, but I am so dysfunctional and out of it when I am really, really working on new work that I am not a particularly good teacher, friend, or wife while I do it. As a result, this comment from Edmund White during his lovely Paris Review interview always makes me feel a little better.

I wish I were more at home with writing. I can go a year or two or three without picking up my pen and I’m perfectly content. The minute I have to write I become neurotic and grouchy and ill; I become like a little wet, drenched bird, and I put a blanket over my shoulders and I try to write and I hate myself and I hate what I’m writing. Writing depends upon a fairly quiet life, whereas I am a sociable person. I think every writer goes back and forth on this question; it’s a constant struggle to find the right balance between solitude and society and I don’t think anyone ever does. I find it reassuring to read the complaints of Chekhov: “My country house is full of people, they never leave me alone; if only they would go away I could be a good writer.” He’s writing this close to the end of his life.