On Passions and the 24 Hour Day

“Our passions shape our books; repose writes them in the intervals.”

~Proust, The Past Recaptured, 1927

Photo on 07-08-2015 at 09.15I fully intended to write this morning. My bag for the coffee shop was packed. I went to bed at a reasonable hour. But it didn’t happen.

I didn’t sleep. I woke up from an anxious dream, where I was running a restaurant with friends from 30 years ago and arguing with them about the daily special. I woke up from another anxious dream, where everyone had to be in plaster casts and I had to choose, each day, which part of me would be immobile for the 24 hours. I woke up from another anxious dream…and gave up on writing today.

In the next four days, I’m trying to meet up with over 50 people. I’m trying to help my mother as much as she’ll let me and as much as I can. I’m trying to keep my teenager from going completely insane after I’ve withdrawn her from her real life for the summer. I’m planning my next 2000 mile drive. I’m recovering from the last 600 mile round trip journey. I’m already missing my cousins I’ve seen. I’m already dreading saying goodbye to my mother on Tuesday.

The fact is, if I want to write, I need to give myself more repose. That’s more repose than other women. And that’s scary. Sitting down and reading a book when there is laundry to fold is pretty near revolutionary in my home culture (there were many comments regarding this behaviour). Going away to write and leaving my mother to do her own vacuuming feels like elder abuse. I have four days left here, and I’d kind of like to remodel her bathroom as well as see my high school friends, my university crowd, the people I worked with for three years in my 20s, four more cousins, return my books to the library, buy books downtown, take back the shirt my husband feels is too loud, buy some bungie cords and clean my mother’s carpets. At some point, I’ll need to take my teenager swimming every day, as well.

I am currently repose-free.

I’m sure Marcel didn’t get himself into a fix like this. I’m sure fixes like this lead to the prevalence of suicide in women writers. But when your passion is your love for other people…that’s the fix you’ll get into.

Here, I think I’m meant to say something uplifting about the rich material I’ll have for my writing. But I’m not going to do that. Here, I’m going to tell you that if you aren’t able to be a different kind of woman to the woman your culture might require you to be, you won’t have the amount of repose it takes to write world-class fiction.


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