“I have a small loft in my house where I write; I like
being up high with my laptop and a few books. For me, reading is the best way
to get excited about writing, but I love to read so much that it has to be
something I’ve read before, or something very short, or else I’ll spend all my
working time reading instead of writing. Just rereading part of a favorite
story can make me feel desperate to write.
“When I can’t make it to my loft because I’m working or because life gets in the way, I’ll think of the end of Tillie Olsen’s “I Stand Here Ironing.” Not the stunning last lines but the dates—1953–1954—marking the start and completion of that story, the first she ever published (in 1955, at the age of forty-three). Or I’ll remember Edward P. Jones’s matter-of-fact description of the ten years in which The Known World lived only in his head while he worked at Tax Notes. Thinking about the struggles of my favorite writers is comforting, giving me permission to struggle a little in my own life and with my work. But then I’ll reread their work, and the desire to write will be just as urgent.”
—Belle Boggs, author of Mattaponi Queen (Graywolf Press, 2010)