Imagine me clutching this book to my chest. Romantic, eh? (source)
There is this Anne Lamott book that I just read about writing. It is also about life and how writing relates to life. My sister had sent it to me for my birthday and, I'm ashamed to say, it sat unopened, under my bed for like two weeks.
(In all fairness, I had cleaned my room and forgotten I had stored it there.)
(And by "cleaned my room", I meant shoved everything I own under my bed so that anyone who came to visit thought I had a modicum of tidiness to my nature.)
My sister recommends me a lot of books. She's a therapist, so she's sort of licensed to do that. But she's also my sister, which makes it supremely annoying when she thinks she knows more about my 20-something life than I do. (She does. See? Annoying!)
This is how the exchange goes whenever she finishes telling me about a book that I ABSOLUTELY MUST GET RIGHT THIS MINUTE OR ELSE I WILL SINK DEEPLY INTO A PIT OF MY OWN DEPRESSION AND DESPAIR. Except it sounds much more therapist-y when she says it.
Sister: Oh, really, you should get this book called "If The Buddha Dated/Grace (Eventually)/Bird by Bird/every-other-book-I've-read-in-my-recent-adulthood"
Me: Yea? Okay. Maybe if I'm around the area of the library tonight I'll stop by and grab it...
Sister: Wait...what? The library? Uh, hello? Go to a freaking bookstore and buy it. Like, seriously. You make an NYC salary. LIVE A LITTLE. (no, she is not therapist-y sounding when she's talking to me like my sister. Yes, it's annoying.)
Me: Oh, uh, okay. Maybe. I mean, I don't think it's really for me. Like, really? Buddha? I don't really get down with the east Asian religion thang. Simply not enough guilt built in for my Catholic-harvested brain.
(Two weeks later...)
Sister: Did you get that book that I recommended to you?
Me: No. I read about it. It sounds New Age-y. I'm hip and cool and I AM CERTAINLY NOT NEW AGE-Y. (crosses arms for emphasis. Even though we're talking on the phone.)
Sister: Oh, for the love of Christ, I'm sending it to you. Check your mailbox.
After which I crack it open semi-reluctantly, fall desperately in love with it, stay up until 3am to finish it, and cry my face into the pillow.
There is also a lot of book-to-chest clutching. And sighing. It's all very embarrassing and now I am sort of self-conscious that you're imagining me doing this. In my nightgown.
*dies of shame*
One of my favorite chapters of the book is called "Shitty First Drafts." Mostly because I write a lot of shitty first drafts of blog post. Half of the time I will write a blog post or two a day, and then can't ever imagine anyone wanting to read anything about it, so I save it in my drafts and move on with my day. I don't publish because it's a mix of embarrassment that I thought anyone would even WANT to read about whatever it is that I'm writing about, and the fact that I have some serious issues maintaining a constant tense in one blog post. (I'm working on it.)
But she says so many times throughout the book that, no matter how hard we try, as writers, we will NEVER EVER come up with a new topic to talk about. Seriously. Everything has already been covered. So, she says, (and I'm paraphrasing, but stay with me) just get it out. Whatever you have to say. It might be a shitty first draft. But it will get better with some authenticity and patience. And editing. Mostly editing.
And what hasn't been covered, particularly in fiction or expositional writing, is personal experience. And that got me to thinking (don't. channel. Carrie. Bradshaw.)...
Isn't that why we all blog or write or read in the first place? Not because we want to be famous writers and make gajillions of dollars off of some imaginary characters that fly around on broomsticks as a wizarding school or falling in love with vampires (okay, well not ALL of us). Isn't it because we all really want to share our own account of our human experience?
Sometimes the things I put down on paper are solely because I just don't want to feel alone in my feelings. I get frustrated, and annoyed, and pissed. And hungry. I just want to know that there are others out there who feel the same way. It's part of the reason I do read so many blogs. Because I like the community of it. I like the way that people expose themselves, and can say "Hey, actually? I'm not all that terribly great. And I get down on myself. And sometimes it sucks. So you're not the first to feel that way, but take comfort in the fact that you won't be the last. And also, that you won't always feel that way." It's terribly comforting for me and, I will boldly say, for all of us, to be reassured of this.
I was talking to my wonderful and supportive friend the other day at work. And I shot him the link to the terribly exposing post about my feelings that I wrote the other day. And instead of laughing and calling me a neurotic girl he said, "It's strangely relieving to see people write those thoughts down." Which made the whole expose of my feelings worth it. To know that someone else, even, oddly, someone THAT I KNEW, totally got why I was writing it all down in the first place.
And to know that others identify with my experience and appreciate the things that I get down, no matter how shittily composed it is? That truly is the best compliment ever.
I don't have a question today. But I would like to start posting my Workout Wins, which is basically one good thing about my daily workout. So today's Workout Win: I woke up and ran six miles and didn't complain once.