[one writer interviews another about the writing process]
Leslie Jamison: I’m struck by how many moments in these essays are marked by a figure standing outside some kind of threshold: “I feel more in my element,” you write, “as the man who is out there standing in the rain.” Even the title, “Loitering,” suggests the presence of someone who doesn’t quite belong. How does a sense of outsiderhood inflect these essays?
Charles D’Ambrosio : Now that you’ve called it to my attention, that figure on the threshold seems to be standing around in quite a few of these essays. It’s a little spooky to realize how porous the personality is in writing, porous or just plain incontinent, leaking out everywhere, so that things get revealed even when—or especially when—you haven’t given them much conscious thought. It’s a good reminder that you don’t have to indulge in a goopy confessional mode to write a personal essay—you’re more mysterious than you know, more naked than you imagine, and whether you intend it or not you’re going to be exposed.
I don’t deliberately seek out that threshold or the ambivalence it offers, but the fact that I return to it over and over suggests that it isn’t entirely innocent, either. I mean, I must go there for a reason, but why? I was a vigilant kid, and vigilance as a perspective on life depends on distance, a certain remove. You’re always kind of there and not there, sitting in the room but also watching the room, alert to some other, less innocent possibility. That distance feels safe, but it also stirs up the most intense feelings of loss and longing, the dream of making the distance go away, of ditching the divided self and all its tensions and simply being there—you know, just crossing that threshold and coming inside, coming home. But it’s hard to do, hard for me to do, anyway.
Leslie Jamison, Instead of Sobbing, You Write Sentences: An Interview with Charles D’Ambrosio 26/11/2014 The New Yorker (from here)