I have a romantic conception of the writer's life, and the sort of writer's life that I admire is probably a childless life, possibly a marriageless life, certainly a travelling life - I'm in awe of how much D.H. Lawrence managed to get around. But that's never been something I'm capable of doing.
I think men and women are the same. Even as parents, I think we're the same. We're just conditioned to think that we're different. Having said that, it's true that motherhood is a particularly vulnerable area. It's an open wound, really. A woman is exposed to being turned into a different kind of person by the experience of motherhood.
In domestic life, the woman's value is inherent, unquantifiable; at home she exchanges proven values for mythological ones. She 'wants' to be at home, and because she is a woman, she's allowed to want it. This desire is her mystique, it is both what enables her to domesticate herself and what disempowers her.
The distinctive feature of my family was intolerance of sensitivity and emotion - 'Everything's great, it all has to be great all the time and why do you have to spoil it?' Whereas probably the most fundamental and important thing to me has been defending my right to tell the truth about how I feel.
You could time a suburban story by your watch: it lasts as long as it takes a small furry animal that's lonely to find friends, or a small furry animal that's lost to find its parents; it lasts as long as a quick avowal of love; it lasts precisely as long as the average parent is disposed on a Tuesday night to spend reading aloud to children.
There is always shame in the creation of an expressive work, whether it's a book or a clay pot. Every artist worries about how they will be seen by others through their work. When you create, you aspire to do justice to yourself, to remake yourself, and there is always the fear that you will expose the very thing that you hoped to transform.
I was born abroad, but my parents were both English. Still, those few years of separation, and then coming back to England as an outsider, did give me an ability to see the country in a slightly detached way. I suppose I was made aware of what Englishness actually is because I only became immersed in it later in life.