I have not actually read anything by Julavits (yet.) But I subscribed to The Believer for a while.
Here she channels Virginia Woolf. But in a reassuring, non-mentally-ill way.
Tell me how your work habits have changed since having kids.
Well, I am way more focused because I just don’t have that much time. And you have the added incentive that every hour is costing you 14 dollars. You are paying 14 dollars to be sitting at your desk, how do you want to justify that expenditure? The sleep deprivation part is hard. And there is a lot of brainspace that is occupied with the most mundane shit, and that can put you into this kind of neural pattern that is very opposite to the place you want your brain to be. It just feels very checklist:y.
And that has necessitated even more than ever that both Ben and I get the fuck out. Honestly, I hadn’t been to a colony in ten years. Because we got this house in Maine and we thought, This is our colony. Before we had kids. But then we had kids, and we thought: We have kids, we can’t go to a colony now! But I went two years ago for the first time in ten years. I basically cried every day I was there. [Laughs.] I would go up to the director and cry and just say, “Thank you so much!”
You weren’t missing your kids?
I wasn’t missing them at all, not even a little bit! I hadn’t had that kind of dedicated headspace since I had kids, where I would wake up and not think, “Oh my god, did I do the laundry?” Because my daughter only wears one pair of pants. So, if those pants aren’t clean, she won’t wear anything, and then she’s going to have a tantrum, and then I’m going to have to deal with that, so that by nine o’clock in the morning I am going to be so psychically drained that I am not going to be able to do any work. So not having to think about the mundane checklist reality of life with children made me cry with gratitude.
I think they must have really thought I was on the verge of some kind of breakdown when I was there. But I really was joyously crying. I felt so ridiculous saying it to anybody, but it was how I felt. I would say, “I feel like an artist again.” [Laughs.]