From Jayne Anne Phillips’s essay “Outlaw Heart” on her web site:
“The writing life is a secret life, whether we admit it or not. Writers focus perpetually on the half-seen, and we live in the dim or glorious shadows of partially apprehended shapes. We could bill ourselves as perceptually challenged—given that we live two lives at once, segueing from one to the other with some distress—but we accept, long before we publish, the outlaw’s mantle. We occupy a kind of border country, focused on the details that speak to us. Ask those who marry us, or those who don’t: we’re too intensely involved, yet never quite present. Perhaps we’re difficult to live with as adults, but often we were precocious, overly-responsible children—not in what we accomplished, necessarily, but in what we remembered, in the emotional burdens we took on. . . .
“Writers begin as readers, and words become a means of survival. At some juncture deep within family life, the child sees in written language a way to embrace her own burden. When I was young, words themselves seemed secret because I read them in my mind and no one else could hear. Knowledge was often secret; the most interesting things were repeated in low tones.”