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On being down the hall
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I have a theory about writers. It’s probably not a very good one, similar to remote prayer, or string theory or any other theory that lacks a control group but anyway here it is:
I believe that writers grow out of those childhoods where for some reason or reasons, not necessarily tragic ones, a child comes into a family where they are not quite in the center of things, ever. They find themselves sometimes meandering down the hall or even out into the yard or on to the street, but before they get too far away from home they sometimes turn and look back, and then cannot stop looking.
In my own case I always felt a bit like an add-on. I wasn’t neglected or ignored but it seemed like I had come late to the ball and my family’s dance card was already full. They had a lot of problems with each other, problems that I was not part of. Whenever there is an “us”, there has to be a “them” and if the them is only one person, that other person can feel left out, lonely. But they sometimes get a few gifts in exchange, and these can be precious, e.g.:
If I have an imagination, it is in part because I had no one to run my ideas by, no one was listening and honestly no one cared. That’s the best way to develop ideas, in safety and silence and very few situations cannot be easily heightened and improved by a couple of crazy what ifs;
If I am an ardent reader it is in part because reading was and is my best friend;
Feeling left out makes you get outside friends and treasure them;
The view on the living room, dining room, bedroom, kitchen, yard, vacation, occasion is considerably different from behind the window than it is from across the table. That distance is freeing. It is enlightening. It is begging you, every single day, to sit down and try as hard as you can to tell the truth about it.
That is a difficult job but it is also the best job and without that lonely walk down the hall, I might never have had it.

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