Sunday, May 14, 2006

Rosellen Brown

from her essay "You Are Not Here Long" in Letters to a Fiction Writer

Probably the most important thing I've learned, after the fragmented years of child-raising were past (and even then I did my best and usually succeeded) was to arrange my available time in order of "quality" (as one does, in fact, with children).

I asked myself which were my best hours for concentration, which less useful, which the dispensable ones when I could do all the things that don't take purity of attention. This seems self-evident but it is not. If you order your time this way, you don't clean up the house first thing in the morning, as an astonishing number of women do: you fit it in when you've got your pages done...

You don't attend noontime lectures. In the end, in fact, you renounce a lot of minor pleasures...Much of the time such discipline feels indefensibly rigid; with tedious regularity I've had to aplogize to others and to myself for being such a stick-in-the-mud.

But when people say "Whoo, you've published nine books, you've raised children, you've taught. Wow, how'd you manage that?"

I can only reply, with whatever misgivings, "I said no a lot."



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