Here We Are
Sometimes, I forget what matters most. I get caught up in knowing too much about what other writers doing and I think, “When’s it my turn?” and then I feel terribly about myself for being petty and then I hear something else and obsess and lament and alas, it is not mature at all. It is a vicious cycle. I keep losing sight of what matters or not exactly losing sight, but letting what matters fall just beyond my grasp because I’m holding on to everything that doesn’t matter.
I am a writer. I am a reader. I do have a life. Really, that is what matters.
Writing is always a pleasure and the place I am my best. When I sit to work on a new story or essay, there’s no nonsense, just me and my mind and I get to go wherever that takes me. So far that has taken me to some amazing places. The great thing about writing is that this is the one thing I can control. What happens to that writing is well beyond my control. It’s deeply frustrating but the most important thing to learn as a writer, the thing I am still learning, is how to surrender to the lack of control you have once you send your writing into the world.
I was reminded today of how much I love what I do because a friend, a great friend, wrote me to talk about what she’s working on and it was just joy and I thought, wow, we are both doing exactly what we want to be doing. The circumstances in which these things are being done may not be ideal but the work itself, is the greatest.
I was also reminded becauseI read a great book—NW by Zadie Smith, the kind of book I hope to write, not in style but in excellence. I am ambitious and unapologetically so. I don’t mind setting impossible goals. When I finished NW this afternoon, I sat perfectly still for several minutes, saying, “Oh my God,” over and over. I was that affected. I loved that feeling of reading something so smart, so complex, so moving, that I was completely overwhelmed.
There are lots of ways to think about writing and reading, but I like to think of them as finding ways to overwhelm others with words and being overwhelmed by words. To that end, you should read this essay, Here We Go On, by Mira Ptacin. It will overwhelm you.