Today I finally got around to paying my library fines so I could check out a couple of books. But then I went and bought them instead. Jane Eyre will be coming to Olympia soon, and before I see it I want to read the book again. And I bought Villette, which I have never read. I don't think I've read Jane Eyre since I was twelve or so. My mom brought it home after running errands one day. It was the first novel of it's quality I had ever read.
I read a few pages of Jane Eyre during my lunch, and it was hard to put it down. I'm sad to say that I just don't read very much anymore. I start books, and they go unread. Or, I read, snatching at a bit of illumination or patience, books like You Are Your Child's First Teacher, or The Miracle of Mindfulness. After my bookish lunch today, I decided to take advantage of my break and my location to sit and read more often. I visit the bakery across the street every day. I ought to just sit there, and enjoy my coffee with a book. (As a side note--I'm in week two of an anti-Bread Peddler diet. I'm getting chubby and broke. So far the diet has been an utter failure. As my dear friend pointed out this morning, I don't actually want to curb my visits to the Bread Peddler. Life is short.) The other thing I ought to do is write. I'm not going to commit to writing here regularly, because I know that's unrealistic. I don't want to add disappointment in myself to the equation. But I do want to try.
When I first started blogging, it was 2003. I had finally gotten a job, been adopted by a group of friends, and started recovering from my re-entry culture shock (I'd just gotten back from France). As I began to connect with my friends, some old and new, I started writing what I called the Everyone Documents. I had written a "deep thoughts" email (for lack of a better descriptor) to a friend. He talked about it at a potluck, and a few people asked me to write another one, and send it to them. Then it happened again. How I had the audacity to send those pathetic, wandering pseudo-diary entries to a bunch of people, I'll never know. A bit embarrassing, now that I think about it. And then I discovered Blogger, which gave me something to do during the painful, slow hours I spent alone at work. It also gave me the anonymity to write whatever I wanted (almost). And even though I knew that people I knew were reading it, I somehow never believed it. I feel the same now. Someone will mention something personal and particular I've written on the blog and I'll feel shocked. How did you know?!
I applied for grad school at about the same time (for which my writing sample really was journal entries, from my time in France), with the intention of studying publishing. I thought it would point me in the direction of a "career," something I didn't really want but felt I needed. I didn't believe I could write for a living, so I went second best. But I was intercepted by a mentor, a poet, in the first few weeks. I never took a publishing class, and ended up with an MFA in creative writing. I still don't have the confidence to think myself a writer. I think I write fine, maybe even well. But I have never met my own standards, and I let the writerly life slip away. Maybe on purpose. In my heart, I draw comfort from Jane Austen, whose literary flower budded in her teens but didn't bloom until her thirties. In my heart, I know I'll have the guts and maturity to do it eventually.
All this is on my mind for a lot of reasons. For one, I've been contemplating the concept of writing for a living. I've been wondering if I'm the sort of person who will be unlikely to write in her spare time if she writes at work, or if I'm the reverse. Also, this week I attended the poetry reading of a friend of a friend, both of them colleagues in an MFA program. We drove down to Portland for the evening. It was good, and strange, to inhabit that world for a few hours. I felt like I belonged, but then, not at all. Someone asked me if I was a writer. I think I um-ed for a full minute before my friend stepped in and said that I was. Someone asked if I had a reading coming up. Not only do I not have a reading coming up, I have written one, one, draft of a poem since I graduated from my MFA program in 2007. I'm pretty sure my husband has not read my entire creative thesis. I don't think I gave him the chance. The last time I had something published was the last time I submitted something--in 1998. I am bad about writing, but I'm worse about sharing.
What is that about? I'm not really sure. It might be why I like blogging so much. It's almost interactive, like a one-sided epistolary romance. And I love writing letters. Sometimes when I write, I think about you. Or you. And it's easier to speak. And sometimes I write a love letter to the void, and pretend that it's anonymous. So often there are things I want so much to say, and can't. Just as often, I don't know what to say. Either way, it's a start.