I haven’t been writing much this year—trying to change that lately, but barely willing to commit to even Camp NaNoWriMo and its flexible goal-setting. I’ve been reading a lot: some fiction; a lot of non-fiction, mostly books. I’ve been keeping a notebook of excerpts and quotes, as I read. I’ve been taking a lot in. I’ve been utilizing the heck out of my new-as-of-this-year library card. I’ve saved over $500 so far by using my local library! (The checkout receipt keeps a running total.) I just started Agatha Christie’s An Autobiography, and it occurs to me that what I’ve wanted to read lately is memoirs, and books about writers and writing. (Light the Dark and Women Writers at Work come to mind.)
I’ve come back to Mary Karr’s The Art of Memoir—I bought when it came out in 2016, but set it aside. I knew I’d want to read it, but didn’t feel ready when I started—and I semi-failed her pop quiz: “Don’t write about people you hate… Ditto: don’t write about a divorce you’re going through.” [sad trombone] Since the divorce was still very much a part of my conscious day-to-day living, I didn’t see how I couldn’t not write about it.
And now I wonder, will I write about my divorce, or my ex… or other persons closely affiliated with both? Indirectly, I’m sure I will. I hardly see how it can be avoided. But write about it directly? Probably not. I can sum up my reasoning with a quote from Pride and Prejudice (emphasis mine):
Lady Catherine de Bourgh: “I take no leave of you, Miss Bennett. I send no compliments to your mother, you deserve no such attention.”
It’s a lot better than it was, but even still, that subject wastes too much of my processing power. It/he/THEY deserve NO attention at all.
I’m thinking a lot about what my hangups are, in terms of writing. The act of storytelling is something that takes place continuously for me—in my head, relating events to myself, out loud, relating things to others—and I know writing is something I crave to be doing. Yet it’s not getting done, certainly not regularly—lately not at all. During the first year of “crisis”, I was journaling every day, pages and pages of sifting through emotions and events, trying to figure it all out. Now, I still write pages of text, but it’s more sporadic—things have moved beyond that emotional maelstrom, and largely it’s recounting events and things that seem significant. Processing. Always processing.
Maybe I’m overcomplicating things. Maybe all I need is to think of everything, fiction and non-fiction, in terms of telling someone a story. That’s all it is, after all… telling a story. And hoping to be clear, concise, and entertaining. Entertaining, like this spinning space shuttle… maybe that’s just me.