Kevin popped his head in to ask me something taking-care-of-kids-related on Monday, when I was getting towards the tail end of drafting the novel, and I just lost it. It was the fourth or fifth time he or Jed had done that within an hour or so, and normally, we check in with each other on all kinds of things along those lines, and it’s totally fine and reasonable for them to do that. I think because they were both doing it, they also didn’t have a sense of how many interruptions there had been total.
But in that moment, I was trying really hard to concentrate, and I was exhausted after many hours of writing for many days on end, and I was full of anxiety that I’d been stuffing down so I could keep writing, about whether this book actually was any good, and that fourth or fifth interruption was just the last, the very last straw.
And I snapped “Everybody leave me alone!” And then I burst into tears and cried for five minutes or so, big gasping tears, very messy, and all the time I was thinking, “This! This is why we have so few great women novelists!” Which is maybe not entirely fair, given how we typically share the parenting (and Kevin is probably as likely to have his math interrupted by me asking him kid-and-household questions), but maybe is also true.
Takeaway lesson from this — if I really don’t want to be interrupted, close the damn door to my office. Maybe lock it. That is why we prioritized my actually having my own office. They’ll know that while normally an occasional interruption is fine, that in that particular moment, it’s better to just deal with whatever it is on their own.
Virginia Woolf, Room of One’s Own, etc. It doesn’t have to be some fancy room with library bookshelves and beautiful view — it can be a closet. The key is that it needs a door you can close.