The XX Factor

A Room of One’s Own – and No Pesky Kids

Well, I’m glad the famous ones have off-days, too. Susan Orlean (staff writer at The New Yorker , author of The Orchid Thief , Meryl Streep muse ) has been tweeting this morning about how hard it is to be an at-home writer-especially if you’re a woman and a mother. She first posted: “When I was pregnant people said, Yr job is so flexible-perfect w/a baby! Clearly, they knew nothing about writing and/or kids.” This has touched off a conversation between Orlean and other Twitterers about women and writing, a favorite topic here at the XX Factor . Orlean and her readers are discussing whether women have different styles of focus than men do, the extent to which writing is different from other professions, and why there are no “queens of non-fiction.”

I certainly sympathize with the difficulties of being an at-home writer-which is why I’m currently sitting in a drop-in freelancer’s cubicle here at the Slate Group ‘s swanky new West Village office. (Thanks Slate Group !) Part of me thinks that working from home might actually be easier with kids around, since my problem has always been how vast and echo-y my apartment seems to become whenever I have to shift from, say, television-watching into work mode. The emptiness of the apartment begins to reflect the emptiness of the page, both start freaking me out, and then I just go back to watching television.

Of course, you can’t tactfully avoid kids with a pair of noise-cancelling headphones, the way you can tune out office-mates when you really need to concentrate. (At least, I’m guessing you can’t?)

Work-at-home XX-ers, what are your coping mechanisms? And do you think it really is worse for women-and moms? And finally, what’s your verdict on Twitter and writing: helpful social lifeline, or insidious procrastination tool?