An Unmarried Woman
"I might have an issue with the idea of an individual vision, because, for me, being a person is so shot through with everything else that I’m not really sure we’re in control of what constitutes our individual vision, certainly not entirely. The question that you’re asking, though, is something we all wrestle with. How do I know what I think? How do I figure out what it is that I’m thinking about? I know that thinking about thinking is what an essay helps me to do. I recently learned that Einstein would go into a room and would sit for something like three days—I mean, I guess he would eat something every once in a while—but he would just sit and think, and that’s what his activity was. The activity of thinking, without necessarily doing, or without committing it to something, is an ideal that we could be doing more. We might think more, take time, rather than need everything to be instantaneous.
But in our own lives, how do we get ourselves to think about how we think and why we think it? And then, of course, that’s the place essays come from. And where all writing comes from.”
Lynne Tillman in conversation with Sharon Mesmer
Mamma Andersson. Traveling in the Family, 2002. Oil on panel, 36 1/2 x 48 1/16 inches (92 x 122 cm).
Lynne Tillman articulating what I meant to say in my Adult Morning After
"I think what I love most about diaries is the presentation of a sensibility. Sensibilities actually shift in different times, and with a diary you can discern the sensibility of an individual who is an individual but also a product of his or her time and society. A diary represents that. It’s a recording in the moment. Diaries are about private thoughts, secret feelings. It seems people don’t believe in having secrets anymore. And that’s a whole other idea then, and what does that mean? I think we’re just beginning to deal with what that means."
“I love reading diaries in the morning. Sarah just gave me Virgina Woolf’s, and I’ve read Catherine Deneuve’s, and Anaïs Nin’s, and Sontag’s, of course. I love syncing time too. I will read the entries for the day we’re on right now; I love knowing what a person was thinking on the same day exactly a hundred years ago. In the morning I can’t do fiction or essays, but the way diaries are framed, I can access at them at any moment, and they still resonate or seem profound and are always relevant to what I am working on. It sounds hokey, but I do believe, especially for creative people, the words you read are so crucial to the rest of your feelings. Reading a diary in the morning will give me momentum for the rest of my day.”