7:49 AM – Been awake awhile. Reading. Walking Chicken Dinner. Making and drinking coffee. Today is a whole day that can start and end whenever it pleases.
“The problem that comes up over and over again is that these people want to be published. They kind of want to write, but they really want to be published. You’ll never get to where you want to be that way, I tell them.” – Anne Lamott
Yes, this is the sin. And here’s my confession.
I find it interesting that people who play guitar or piano or sing for a hobby or at their local church are not expected to cut records, just as the fellows who play basketball every Monday night at the gym or in the park are not expected to make pro-teams, and the expert cook or grill attendant who gives new definitions to something as simple as grilled cheeses and hamburgers is not expected to open a restaurant, but someone who writes is often not considered a writer – usually or even especially by themselves – until they publish on a grand scale. It’s a bizarre pressure, the one that writers place upon their own heads. And it’s a strange dichotomy, one that pertains primarily to writers and rarely elsewhere.
Thus far, by age 35, my writing life has consisted primarily of small pieces in quiet pages and Word documents, in notebooks that now belong to my friend Sean, in letters and criticisms that have sometimes hit the web and sometimes touched print and sometimes scored two points landing in the trash. I can safely say that I have written something for some length of time every single day for the past ten years. At least a single sentence. Perhaps only to jot down a quote that made me jealous enough to jot down that quote. Unfortunately, these pittered things have been so unrelated and scattered and even lost that the record and proof of them speaks against me. I write at times and share with others. I write at times and toss the pages. I write at times and then hit Save or Delete and never look back. But I have written. I do write. Something in my bones demands it of me.
For several years the majority of my writings, seen only by my friend Sean, took the form of drunken rants. Sean loved these rants. Sean often said these rants were the greatest things I ever put on paper. He said these rants revealed unwavering honesty. He told me to reread them and then take long walks and then write them again without all the slurring speech and real names. “Here’s your stories. Here’s your novels. Sober up and write about these things,” he’d say.
Well, Sean, I sobered up. And now I do not remember why I ranted. So that leaves me spinning words for other reasons. Creativity. Argument. Criticism. Correspondence. Anne Lamott and Lena Dunham. Rashida Jones and Gator Boy. Gender qualms and celebrity dreams. Tim O’Brien and my father’s war. My sweet Latonya and Chicken Dinner. Jesus Christ and Old Scratch. Dramatically: my bones demand it. Honestly: it’s that time of day. I’ve got plenty of reasons to write long before publication should enter consideration. And I know which one I’m choosing today.