One of the characteristics that I have had to deal with from birth is that I concentrate very deeply, but only if I am in such a situation that I can safely do that, that is, that I won’t be awakened from that concentration abruptly, that I won’t be needed. When I am reading, when I am writing, I am deeply away from my usual life, not in a trance, but really in another, separate world. The obverse of this is that I easily get scattered brain in the middle of the chaos and confusion of ordinary life. This is getting worse as I get older and can be stressful. I feel as if someone has taken a spoon and stirred up my brain. Perhaps having my brain stirred is a good thing. I recently have been trying to relax in this condition, although I still require moments of the concentration to remain on an even keel.
I concentrated deeply on raising my children. I know that the stress would have been unbearable if I had had to raise children while working a full time job. When we were having our house built with a limited budget, we could have had a kitchen big enough to eat in or a tiny kitchen with a living area big enough to eat in. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to cook if there were distractions during the crucial moments so I opted for the tiny kitchen. For some reason inexplicable to me, play pens are now out of favor. I think to myself how do women cook if they have to watch a baby as well?
A few months ago I conducted a writers’ workshop, the first one I had done in a long time. I discovered that I was no longer capable of concentrating on the job at hand the way I had been able to. It was a painful, panicky experience. I couldn’t gather up all the strings, search out the right words immediately, reach back and find the right examples. I knew then that I would never conduct a workshop again.
However, this summer at our camp for three mornings I was able to concentrate from 5 AM when everyone was asleep until they woke up about 7, and I wrote a short story, the first original writing I had done in quite a while. I was relieved. Maybe I don’t have any more novels in me, but perhaps I can winkle out a story or two.