Katharine Smyth

“A few times a year, usually in the dead of winter, I’m overcome by a remarkably strong urge to simply disappear. I pack up my cats and computer, climb in the car, and head to my family’s summerhouse in Rhode Island, which I am fortunate to have, and where I often remain for weeks on end. Once there, I am absurdly habit-forming: I write from nine to three; take long, music-fueled walks along the river; write again from five to seven; and finally reward myself with red wine, dinner, and whatever TV show I’m currently immersed in. I wear clothes from high school and stop shaving my legs; often, I won’t see another human being for days. I try to give myself permission to falter, to squander whole mornings, and I find that after a few days, almost unfailingly, the words start to well up. It comes to feel as if time has contracted, as if my real life were a memory, as if the page and frozen view beyond the window were the only truths that matter. There are other tricks, of course—returning to the books that made you ache to be a writer (for me it’s often Patrick White’s The Tree of Man, or Joan Didion’s The White Album); writing by hand about the writing—but when it comes to reconnecting with the work, I find there’s nothing quite like absenting yourself from the world.”
—Katharine Smyth, author of All the Lives We Ever Lived: Seeking Solace in Virginia Woolf (Crown, 2019)

Writer Photo: 
Writer Photo Credit: 
Frances F. Denny
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  • January 31, 2019