Robin Black

This past year I had the chance to work with writer Leah Hood on an unusual project for the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society. "Departure and Discovery: New Directions at the Apex of Creativity" explores the idea of "late style"—that is, what do artists create when their work is mature and they're established in their careers? Hood interviewed a score of prominent creators—writers, dancers, designers, producers, scientists, actors, and yes, musicians—for a blog that accompanied a trio of curated concerts, all supported by the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.

Before she began writing, author and writing teacher Robin Black struggled with agoraphobia and anxiety. “When I started writing, I felt like my life depended on it. And my sanity,” she told Hood. “It was kind of leaving the domestic sphere in this extreme version because I had actually been hiding. I wasn’t just home with my kids, I was home with my kids and scared. When I went off to graduate school at age 41 it was a big, big deal.” 

“As a woman, when you hit 40 and then 50, I think it’s pretty universal in this culture anyway, to feel emboldened and to care a lot less what people think of you and just go for it. But in literature it’s difficult … Particularly after you’ve had a couple books out and you’re used to getting reviewed. I hope that my most masterful books are ahead of me but I do worry about the self-consciousness of the career.”