Five Points, Vol. 7 No. 2Fall 2003
From Janet Burroway, “I am interested in the idea that every novelist only has one story to tell and tells it over and over.”
It’s been a bad day for the life of the mind. A losing day for discipline, for art, great or minor. And I get nowhere—so what else is new—in my usual attempt to rappel down the sheer-face of the responsibilities/duties/obligations/errands and odd-jobs that looms in the middle-distance between me and what I call “my work.”
Like everyone, I’m a busy person. I frequently tell people this, I email to several continents on the subject: I’m swamped, stressed, at wits’ end, at the end of my tether, in a pickle, in a stew, besieged, beset, inundated, burned out, snowed under. I toil under the weight of tottering piles of paper, burdened by the unanswered correspondence of dusty decades, crushed by dumb domestic details, waking panicked in the unforgiving night, the dread of my sins of omission (mainly—who has time for sins of commission?) stabbing at my thrumming heart. Above all, I am laid low by the nineteenth-century duties of middle-aged post-modern daughterdom invoked these days by the oily social work term primary caregiver. I am harried, I am harassed. I am utterly overwhelmed. I say utterly a lot, especially in emails.