-- Vivian Gornick, The Situation and the Story
The words blew me away. I was taking a break from the painstaking task of course preparation, relaxing with a cup of coffee and Gornick's book about the personal narrative. It was a relief to be just reading something without looking for an answer, something I just don't do often enough. Her description of Harry Crews' essay "Why I Live Where I Live" was interesting, even engaging in a comfortable detached way. It was about Crews, not about me. We could not be more different, Harry Crews and I. He hails from the Georgia swamps; I am from the high, dry plains of Nebraska. He lives in Florida; Prince George's county, Maryland is as far south as I have ever lived or wanted to live.
But then he described his writing life and how his home in Gainesville gives him "a kind of geographic and emotional distance I need to write", and Gornick translated: "If you don’t leave home, you suffocate, if you go too far you lose oxygen." And I started to cry.
I just spent nearly a month in a place no longer my home, writing every day with focus and passion. Since I've been back, I have shifted from desk to chair to dining room table and from one coffee shop to another, trying to recapture the feeling I had there. I don't want to be tied to a place or a time of day or a ritual to be able to write. I want to be close enough to "home" but not too close.