The movers and the diggers
Those of us who presume to write books would appear to fall into two categories: the ones who “dig in” and the ones who move. There are writers who can only function “at home,” with the right chair, the shelves of dictionaries and encyclopedias, and now perhaps the word processor. And there are those, like myself, who are paralyzed by “home,” for whom home is synonymous with the proverbial writer’s block, and who believe naively that all would be well if only they were somewhere else. Even among the very great you find the same dichotomy: Flaubert and Tolstoy laboring in their libraries; Zola with a suit of armor alongside his desk; Poe in his cottage; Proust in the cork-lined room. On the other hand, among the “movers” you have Melville, who was “undone” by his gentlemanly establishment in Massachusetts, or Hemingway, Gogol, or Dostoyevsky, whose lives, whether from choice or necessity, were a headlong round of hotels and rented rooms—and, in the case of the last, a Siberian prison.