Thursday, September 18, 2008

Sometimes You Can't Help But Be a Little Random

I lose my way as a writer a lot. More often than not, in fact, I am lost. I try to be okay with this, but really, I'm not. I am a writer of missed deadlines, self-doubt and wasted words. Lately, I have been a writer of blank pages. Sometimes the writing time is spent just shuffling files, changing margins, reorganizing folders.

So, okay. I make note of this. I think about longevity, and distance, and time and how there are muscles in writing that get lost from lack of use. In the absence of writing, I read, as though I were a runner with an injury who could somehow benefit from watching someone else run.

Always, eventually, touch wood, something saves me. It was two things today. Barb sent me an email, about a post I did a while back, saying that she had saved it, was thinking about it. She was encouraging me, and when I read the email, that post seemed so long ago that I could barely relate to what she was saying. Still, something kindled in me.

Then tonight I went with mom to see Richard Russo and he was exactly what I hoped for him to be, clever and funny, reading a big sprawling essay that in the end was about the best subjects of all - love, laughter and writing.

"You have a right to write badly," he said "But you aren't a bad writer until the day you don't write." Okay, I'm paraphrasing, but get the idea. Again, encouragement.

All of that persuaded me to come here, the starting place for writing, the rough draft place, the place of meandering and babbling and false starts and dead ends. A blog, at least a personal blog like this one, is kind of a place of literary forgiveness, if you ask me, or at least it should be.
I wish I could remember what I said to Jessica the night we said goodbye to her. It was a fun night, all summer cocktails and pretty dresses, feathers in my hair and hats on the boys. Jess smiled and drank and laughed like it was a birthday party, but it was an occasion much more heartbreaking than that. She was off to NYC, where she is now, making her way on her own.

When it was time to say goodnight, I put my arms around her and whispered something in her ear, and when I pulled away for one last look at her pretty face, her eyes, and mine, were all filled with tears. I'm so sad to say goodbye to her, after all those summer nights and Maldives shows and Sunday trips to the farmer's market and bloody marys and a zillion text messages. We'll always have texting, like Bogey and Bergman always have Paris, and I'm grateful for that. My life will be a little more grown up with her gone, and that's not necessarily the greatest thing.

Still, in the few days she's been gone, she's made even the distance between us fun for me. I've sent her to the Tasting Room for coffee and Momofuku and when she went to the Strand, I gave her our old address and she said she'd look for it, and I felt so happy for her, remembering how exciting it was to be in your twenties in New York. She's smart and pretty and so much fun. She's gonna do great. And hopefully the rest of us will all get to live vicariously through her.


Barb said...

Yay!!! I'm so glad you're back. I've missed you and your words. :)

Kate said...

I love that advice from Richard Russo. We all have a right to write badly, hell yes. I have notebooks full of bad writing that I'm collecting for someone, I don't know who, but I do know that maybe 10% of whatever is in there turned into gold after a week, a month, a year of writing and rewriting it. There's pleasure in the process and writing badly is part of that process. And so is not writing, sometimes.