Again and again I must ask myself; why do I have a blog when all I want is to do what I have always done, and write cryptic remarks and notations, Lines of Future Genius, possible epigraphs and notes toward love letters that will never be written, all in one of my beloved raggedy journals? I have this curmudgeonly prejudice that journal entries are not meant to be typed or seen by anyone. I have been making daily use of a journal for more than half my live. No, that is not accurate. Let’s call it an even 3/4 of my life. Sometimes I forget how old I am now, how young I was then, when I started it all. This writing life among the multitudes. One writes daily, if one is lucky. One contemplates just what sort of a writing life one wants. In this age, the blog is becoming the daily touchstone, or perhaps it already is, for an apprenticeship to the written word. Or rather the typed word. One day, will we stop calling ourselves writers, and instead, more accurately, redub ourselves as typists? The secretaries of the human experience, taking eternal dictation? That is not a bad image. Let me just go scrawl that down in my journal….
I have been writing. I got my grant, finally, after these fair few years of trying to figure out what grant committees actually want from me. The truth is that I still don’t know. I don’t know what I did right any more than I knew what I did wrong. And I think that is how it has always been and ever will be with this work. This writing work I have taken rather arrogantly upon myself. I don’t know where what I do right and what I do wrong begins and ends, and maybe it doesn’t matter. Maybe that is the point. To do just enough of both so that a lovely counterbalance is struck. Maybe the point is not brilliance but some sort of cancellation. One writes to break even.
I am sitting here in a house that isn’t mine. A friend has gone away. He is coming back tomorrow, and though I am happy to welcome my friend back, I am loathe to relinquish this house. I do good work here, when I am not too distracted. I think I do better work here than when I am at home. Why is that? I have to wonder. Why should that be? I don’t know. Maybe writers need a place to go that isn’t where they eat and bathe and lay down at night. Maybe it is as simple as that. Or maybe it is this house. I feel at home here, in a wonderful way that is not the way I feel at home when I am at home. Here, I feel at home even though it is not my home. And that is something very unusual. For me, at any rate.
Today I read a gorgeous travel article by an acquaintance, Timothy Taylor. Though to call it a Travel Article seems…highly erroneous. Suspect, even, given the breadth and depth of it. It feels more like an incantation, to me. It is that potent and moving. Which is no surprise, given the writer who wrote it. It is…extremely intimate, as good personal non-fiction is. When I read something like it, or in that genre that is as effective and beautiful, I feel so…strange. I feel such a coward. Because I have never been able to do what they have done. I have never been able to write as myself, to risk that by sending it out into the world.
This blog, of course, doesn’t count. Hardly anyone will read it, which is why it is even possible for me to write this to begin with. There is no real intent. But what is it to write something true about oneself with actual intent? I don’t know. I have never tried it. But reading Timothy’s piece makes me want to take a risk. I am inspired to risk something, having read this, safe in my seclusion, not a soul around, sipping tea at a table in a room filled with light, scattering toast crumbs, making sounds in my throat that are the vocal representations of a kind of affirmation that only comes when one has read something True, and must respond verbally, even when there is no one to hear. Especially when there is no one to hear. Another question raised by this reading experience is why what one reads inevitably becomes something about oneself? There is no reading of something without turning it into a mirror that does or does not reflect the self.