“You Don’t Finish a Book Without Closing a Door”

That’s a line from a book’s acknowledgements that I read a long time ago and have never been able to get out of my head. I have never closed a door in the course of doing three books, and yet part of me still believes that in order to be a Real Writer I should be off in an office somewhere, smoking a pipe and yelling at everyone to be quiet.

I asked some friends and they say they haven’t ever closed a door either, and that they just work around the rest of their lives. One said, “I yell at my kids a lot, and I have my laptop out all the time, but we’re still sitting together in the living room.”

I feel like this is an idea that’s been handed down through the ages: to be serious, to get work done, you have to wall yourself off from your family and friends. But I am gradually becoming convinced that this idea goes hand-in-hand with the You Have to Be Messy to Be a Good Reporter Fallacy and the If You’re Really a Feminist, You Don’t Care About Money Fallacy.

And I think these ideas are destructive, because they make you think that if you’re ambitious, neat, and work with The Backyardigans on in the background, that you’re not Really doing what you are, in fact, totally doing.


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