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Thursday, June 17, 2021

Nicholas Kristof: Why I’m cutting back on my writing

I’m making a business decision: “I’ll give this more than 2 percent of my time” is the price I’ll pay for comfort. Anyone who disagrees with me should be known for his or her honesty.

I don’t think this has been true before now because I’ve been doing this writing job for a long time. Often I have to do some complex writing and thought, which does not really seem rewarding at all — though some of my most satisfying writing, as you know, is for pleasure and not “cause,” as it so often is these days. My editor told me recently that she worried that people were getting bored with my essays. That worried me, too. But the more I think about it, I realize I love this job. I love that I can throw myself into art. Sometimes, I meet incredible people whom I admire so much, I want to gush. I feel lucky to do what I do. But at the end of a long day of writing I want to have some peace: my sense of relaxation and relaxation.

Yet it’s not a good time for me to do other things. It’s a time to be rooted in what I do, and under its direction.

So there will be no top-slicing or part-slicing (or even sidling up to the desk to do a deal), just a kind of quiet and whittling of nonessential work. My husband thinks it’s a stunt. He thinks it will be a drag on the household budget. But for me, the end of this four-week fling with my mystery novelist wife is very much an exit. And also an exit from the world of writing. So there will be no top-slicing or part-slicing (or even sidling up to the desk to do a deal), just a kind of quiet and whittling of nonessential work. My husband thinks it’s a stunt. He thinks it will be a drag on the household budget. But for me, the end of this four-week fling with my mystery novelist wife is very much an exit. And also an exit from the world of writing.

I’m finally ready to find myself again, to pursue my version of success, hopefully successful, but perhaps not. I had very little sympathy for military spouses, or for doctors or nurses, and I’m coming around to that, but most importantly I’m now beginning to understand that one of the problems plaguing my generation is that we all too often assume we are working and we are successful, when what we’re really trying to do is find the footing to get to a better place.

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