What We Are Doing

What then shall I do this morning? How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing. ~Annie Dillard, The Writing Life

Of course it is a rather stupid thing to spend one’s morning reading a book about writing instead of writing the book one is supposed to be writing, the book that has been paid for, the book that a very kind and conscientious editor is waiting for, kindly and conscientiously but possibly inpatiently, because she has every right to be impatient at this point. But a good book is such a temptation! It is not unlike truffles from Joseph Schmidt or men with beautiful backs. It is a terribly difficult thing to resist! But it must be resisted. It must be put aside. One must return to the work at hand, this book of one’s own, this thing that has sucked up four years of one’s life, not consecutively but spottily, in fits and starts, a few weeks here, a few months there, with long intervals in between for things like babies and husbands and trips to far-off lands, sex and pilates and Scotch, movies and more movies and books and books and books.

Another writer told me recently that when she is in the throes of writing, when she is truly inspired, when the words are just coming, flowing forth, that it is “better than sex.” I have not found this to be true.

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