Last week Grace was here visiting (very fun!) and we tried to write. She sat in the window seat with her laptop, I sat at my computer -- writing is usually so solitary. This felt so cozy and snug and FUN. It reminded me of where I wrote a big chunk of my first published novel: a sunny bright yellow office with a beautiful view of the Palo Alto hills.
This was at the Stanford Physics Dept., where I worked part-time as a secretary and my boss said I could work on my novel whenever there wasn't anything to do for him. I liked the space so much that I would sometimes go back there in the evening, all the physics grad students in the group (who I was friends with) were in THEIR office down the hall, and I could hear them laughing, and we were all there working, alone but not alone.
That is one of the many things about being a writer that I've never figured out how to manage on a regular basis. Lillian Hellman once said that she always wanted other people to leave her alone when she wanted to be alone, but be there when she wanted company: "and even when I was a child I knew the other people wouldn't let me get away with that."
She never married and maybe that's why. SOME husbands leave people alone to write -- Collete's first (and maybe only?) husband used to lock her in a room and leave her there until she had slipped a certain number of pages under the door. But I think most partners don't understand the need for solitude. Time spent lolling around thinking can look a lot like laziness (and often it is!)...but not always.
How do those of you with partners manage it?
Me, I wish there were a day care center for writers.It would have a great view, and little desks, and stay open 24 hours to accomodate all schedules. Every two hours, someone would wheel snacks around on an old-fashioned brass tea trolley: tea,dim sum, maybe little Vietnamese crepes/omelets....or maybe (equally realistic?) it really is time to hook up with someone. But NOT another writer! One in a family is enough.