I had lunch the other day with my friend Glenda, whom I haven't seen in at least five years. That's too bad, because I like hanging out with her. She laughs in such a way that you get a clear-as-a-bell view of her tonsils, and I appreciate being able to tell if a person has strep every time she laughs.
Near the end of lunch, she asked me about my writing. "Did you ever finish that book you were working on?" she asked. The book she's referring to, of course, was the memoir I never figured out how to write--and may never figure out how to write. It was that same non-book that taught me the most valuable lesson I've learned to date about what my relationship with writing is, and it's also the book that almost ended it. I guess really good books teach lessons like that; even the books that don't exist. I told her that after a years-long night of the soul, complete with childbirth, a broken thyroid, and moving three times, that I gave up and returned to writing essays, which was the only thing I've ever been good at anyway. I sell one to a literary magazine once in a while and have won a few small contests, but mostly I let them be.
Because nobody really buys essay collections written by people who aren't already famous, I can just write them because I love them. It's like knitting or cooking or cock fighting--it's a meditative hobby that helps me make sense of the world inside my head. If there was ever a show about people who only love doing the things that don't generate income, I'd like to host. (TLC, call me!)
"Do you still blog?" she asked.
"Oh yeah," I lied, "yes, of course I blog," knowing that it had been months since I'd posted anything--longer since I'd posted anything that didn't make people wonder if I had decided to turn on my oven and then give it a really good scrubbing. If you've been wondering about that, I'm still here, not-blogging. And for the record, I would never give myself the Sylvia Plath treatment--our stove is electric. So here I am. A post--a miracle! That's how Glenda makes an honest woman out of you.