After her first marriage to a writer ended when she was twenty-seven, Roiphe decided to tell her story in the autobiographical novel, Digging Out, and it launched her long, successful career:
I look at the long shelf of books I have published and I think how much better they might have been had I only—. Then I look at the shelf and I think I would rather have had three more children. Then I think I might have preferred to have more books and fewer children than I actually have. Then I remind myself that there is no reason to place children and books on a scale. There is room in life for numbers of both and one never precludes the other. That is a false assumption lurking in my brain from the days of my youth when I wore a garter belt that pinched and thought I should serve as muse instead of listening to one.