“There is and has always been significant talk and essaying about writing that halts as a result of overwork or child-rearing, yet I feel that there’s a lapse in this conversation around the issue of not-writing that happens as a result of heartbreak, or anticipated heartbreak. In heartbreak, I seek the immediate gratification of socializing more than in nearly any other period of living, yet my extroversion remains at a low stasis. This time, the one activity I’ve found that serves as both social consolation and jolt to my stilted writing is reading Transit (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017) and Kudos (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2018), the last two books in Rachel Cusk’s Outline trilogy. The narrator in the series is an ever-diligent listener who has a habit of pulling the essential yarns from her interlocutor’s life. This line, in particular, lodges itself in my gut:
Loneliness, she said, is when nothing will stick to you, when nothing will thrive around you, when you start to think that you kill things just by being there.
Cusk’s trilogy offers a particular form of comfort, for this writer at least: No matter what happens—death, divorce, disruption—we have these words that we can wield some control over, when there is little else in this world that we can control.”
—Lee Matalone, author of Home Making (Harper Perennial, 2020)