Friday, October 27, 2006

How to get rich quick

Jenny Diski at the Guardian on why to write a book. (The piece is cross-posted at her excellent blog.) I post all the time here about Diski, she's definitely one of my particular favorite writers; here were my thoughts on her latest essay collection, which I was happily seduced into ordering from Amazon UK. (This is the Amazon US link, but I think it must have been a limited release of some kind.)

Here's a bit from the essay titled "On spiders and respect for sheep," it expresses a sentiment that speaks directly to my inner recluse:

Being really alone means being free from anticipation. Even to know that something is going to happen, that I am required to do something is an intrusion on the emptiness I am after. What I love to see is an empty diary, pages and pages of nothing planned. A date, an arrangement, is a point in the future when something is required of me. I begin to worry about it days, sometimes weeks ahead. Just a haircut, a hospital visit, a dinner party. Going out. The weight of the thing-that-is-going-to-happen sits on my heart and crushes the present into non-existence. My ability to live in the here and now depends on not having any plans, on there being no expected interruption. I have no other way to do it. How can you be alone, properly alone, if you know someone is going to knock at the door in five hours, or tomorrow morning, or you have to get ready and go out in three days' time? I can't abide the fracturing of the present by the intrusion of a planned future.


  1. Jenny, I can't tell you how much this paragraph by the other Jenny means to me. This is exactly what I feel; I wouldn't change one word. I sent it off to friends with the note: This is what I am always trying to describe. This is exactly how I feel. Thanks you.

  2. It's amazing, isn't it? That Jenny Diski is a genius...

  3. Yes! This is me. I'm so pleased to find someone who has captured it precisely. I, too, have forwarded this to friends to explain: this is what I mean when I hesitate to overplan with you, to confirm dinner a week from now, to arrange a vacation six months from now. I'm trying very hard to simply live in the now. To write right now. That is all I can manage.

    Thank you for posting this. I feel redeemed as I head into a long weekend of reading and writing that is free of commitments.

  4. no, no.. jenny davidson is the genius! or maybe they are both geniuses. no need to be so stingy with my genius awards, I suppose, since they don't come with 500,000 dollars, like the awards Colson Whitehead and Adrian Nicole LeBlanc won. all I know is that I don't want to interrupt that other jenny when she's working.

    I bought a dozen or so of the books that you recommended! I'm off to the gym to work on my shoulder muscles, so I can lug my book-case off to the middle of nowhere. I hope one workout is enough for strong shoulders

  5. This entry is incredible. I really thought I was the only one who felt this way. Thanks for posting this. I loathe lunch and coffee dates, doctor's appointments, car checkups, bank visits etc. And god forbid my library books are due and non-renewable when I'm trying to get through writing something. Being a writer makes working around the 9-5 world unviable. But what Jenny Diski says makes me feel vindicated--and less of a bad person whenever I get annoyed over people telephoning me.