Fragmented. That’s how I have felt this week—pulled in a thousand directions (all right, I exaggerate slightly), rushing from one activity to the next, answering e-mails and phone calls, trying to stay in control of my own agenda.

It’s not a very fruitful state of mind for writing. It makes me nostalgic for my long-ago writing days. First, as a kid, working on wholesale plagiarisms of “My Friend Flicka” and other childhood faves. I remember writing those stories (longhand, of course, in pencil, in a series of spiral-bound notebooks) over endless summer days or on winter afternoons that would stretch before me with nothing more demanding than dinner waiting at the end.

Later, in college, I did a lot of writing late in the evening. Though I’m now a morning person, in those days it seemed right to stay up past midnight with a cup of tea and a cigarette (hand-slap; I quit many years ago). In my twenties, living with four housemates outside of Boston, I used to commandeer the kitchen after dinner and set up my typewriter there since I could type away into the wee hours without bothering anyone.

All those times were distinguished by a sense that I had the time to go on writing and writing until my ideas exhausted themselves. Now I’m always aware of the other demands lurking at the end of a writing session. I suppose this is why writers go on writing retreats. And yet, the thought of that—a day, a week, a month to do nothing but write—is also terrifying. What if I were to have all the time in the world to write, and suddenly find I had nothing to say?

At this point, it’s a risk I’d be willing to take.

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