Quote from Doris Lessing about writing
"The feverish need to get this or that done - what I call the housewife’s disease: ‘I must buy this, ring So-and-so, don’t forget this, make a note of that’ - had to be subdued to the flat, dull state one needs to write in. Sometimes I achieved this by sleeping for a few minutes, praying that the telephone would be silent. Sleep has always been my friend, my restorer, my quick fix, but it was those days that I learned the value of a few minutes’ submersion in… where? And you emerge untangled, quiet, dark, ready for work.
Often when Peter [her child] went to the Eichner’s for a few days or the weekend, or my mother had taken him off somewhere, I simply went to bed, sliding to that restorative underwater state where you lie limp, rising towards the surface, just reaching it, sinking, rising… You are not really conscious you are reaching wakefulness, and the sleep itself is lightented by the half-knowledge you are asleep. An hour… a day even, if I had become too frenetic. As I grew older, and became cleverer at managing my emotional economy, I began to wonder if the condition of being awake accumulates some kind of substance, which jangles and vibrates, making you tense and sharp, and that this is exaggerated a hundred times if you are writing: but even a few minutes’ sleep, the merest dip into that other dimension, dissolves it, leaving you calm again, newborn”
From Walking in the Shade by Doris Lessing (pages 92 and 93 in paperback copy)
This is volume two of her autobiography. I started reading volume one after seeing a documentary about Lessing as part of the BBC’s Imagine series. Alan Yentob was a very gentle interviewer. The above quote rings true for me generally about any creative activity and why it can’t just be slotted into the odd minute here and there. But also the general effect of the day to day jangle on the sensitive mind and the restorative properties of sleep.