when I wake very early, lie in the dark without rising, and ask myself why I do this mad thing – write words that at best a scattering of people will ever read, words that I often spend hours and hours searching for and mostly discarding, words that I care about as deeply as if they were alive and more deeply than most things that are alive, and most people. Am I much different than my grandmother – my father’s mother – who spent years in an asylum talking to people who didn’t exist? Or am I just clever enough – or fortunate enough – to hide it better under the guise of fiction?
I remind myself that I’m in good company. Countless words have been written that are now unread. And nearly all of those that are being written at this very moment will soon be ignored too, or forgotten. It’s not much consolation. But what consolation was there for my grandmother, whose imaginary people were just as real to her as my fictional characters are to me? I wish I had listened to her when I was young, instead of being ashamed of having a crazy in the family.
And yet I can’t assume that she was lonely. Fiction makes very good company.