A writer’s two lives

Jane Smiley recalls childhood reading


In reading through my January issue of “Writer’s Digest,” I found an interview with Jane Smiley who has written “Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Novel.”

“We did not have good sleep habits, because if we had, we would not have read under the bedcovers with a flashlight, or held the book up to the moon that shone through the window, and ruined our eyes. We were reading because we had two lives, an inner life and outer life, and they were equally important to us and equally vivid. A novelist is someone whose inner experience is as compelling as the details of his or her life, someone who may owe more to another author, never met, than to a close relative seen every day. A novelist has two lives — a reading and writing life, and a lived life. He or she cannot be understood at all apart from this.

This rang so true to me it was like a bell ringing through my soul.

I showed it to a good friend (and most avid supporter of my writing) who said that wasn’t like me at all, and laughed. And so proved the point.