I don't live my life as..
I don't live my life as a writer. I'm a mother, an African-American woman, and I do everything that everybody else does - cook and a little bit of cleaning.
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New York is a field of tireless and antagonistic interests undoubtedly fascinating but horribly unreal. Everybody is looking at everybody else a foolish crowd walking on mirrors.
You see, I was told stories, we were all told stories as kids in Nigeria. We had to tell stories that would keep one another interested, and you weren't allowed to tell stories that everybody else knew. You had to dream up new ones.
Like everybody else, I've had relationships in which I was passionately in love but was completely miserable all the time and didn't trust the person I was in love with one inch.
Also, I need deadlines, just like everybody else, especially coming from magazines, newspapers, and stuff like that. I need daily or weekly deadlines to get stuff done, or I continue to do things and not go off on a year of unproductivity.
If I do a play, it's my vision, and everybody else is working on the production to support that. If I do an opera, I feel like part of my job is to support that composer, to try and create something that allows the composer to do his or her best work. In movies, it's usually the director.
My life, in some ways, has been a half-measure. I didn't commit myself all the way to my marriage and family, because I would have given up more. And I didn't go all the way with just being completely selfish. I always wonder where my career would be if I was more selfish.
I did not have a happy family life a few years ago. I was divorced, and I was very alienated from my daughter, and I was out there cutting every ribbon and running around New York hosting events for different causes to supplant my loss because I didn't have a family to go home to. Now I don't want to be Mr. Show Business anymore.
I can't complain that I've had a public all through my writing life, but people don't quite know what I've written. People don't read you too closely. Perhaps, after I've died, they'll look at my stuff, and read it through, and find there's more in it. That may be wrong, but that's what I comfort myself with.
I know some people who live this much more insulated life in Los Angeles, where their feet never touch public ground. They walk out of their bathroom, their living room, they get into their garage, their car, and the next thing you know, they're at the valet parking of the restaurant or the store or the office. They're in a bubble the whole time.
There are some screw-ups headed your way. I wish I could tell you that there was a trick to avoiding the screw-ups... but they're coming for ya. It's a combination of life being unpredictable, and you being super dumb.
I've had a relatively charmed life. I loved to be out in the city. New York was my town. I've had people come up to me and say, 'You're a great New Yorker. You've given your time and money to so many New York charities. You're a great supporter of the arts. I like some of your movies - and some of your movies suck, actually.'
Working conditions for me have always been those of the monastic life: solitude and frugality. Except for frugality, they are contrary to my nature, so much so that work is a violence I do to myself.
Basically, at the very bottom of life, which seduces us all, there is only absurdity, and more absurdity. And maybe that's what gives us our joy for living, because the only thing that can defeat absurdity is lucidity.
I haven't changed, but public life has. It used to be you'd go into a restaurant, and the owner would say, 'Do you mind if I take a picture of you and put it on my wall?' Sweet and simple. Now, everyone has a camera in their pocket.