Bring out the dancing girls and release the balloons--this is my 100th post!
I recently was telling someone about the Jewish tradition of breaking a glass at a wedding. It represents the destruction of the Temple, and how even in happy occasions, it is important to remember sorrow. "Jews can't just be happy," was how I summed it up to my friends.
And that is how I feel here.
Instead of sitting back and watching the dancing girls go, I feel the need to reflect on the fact that I have written more for this little blog than I have for pretty much any other writing project I have undertaken. It's not the Great American Novel. It's not even fiction. This is my magnum opus, and I'm not sure how I feel about that.
Part of my concern is the fact that I seem to have lost my thirst for fiction. Me! I can't remember a time when I didn't read novels like most people eat peanuts. I used to live and breathe stories. Now, I find it difficult to get into a novel. I find myself rolling my eyes at a description and wondering if there is a point to reading about people who do not exist. Holy crap, what has happened to me?
I know part of my fiction ambivalence lately comes from the fact that I no longer have long stretches of uncluttered time to read. The humorous essays (ahem) that I prefer now can be read in bite-sized chunks. My engaging habit of being in the middle of several books at once is no longer an impediment to my understanding of any of the books. I can put down and pick up with impunity.
I also strongly believe that you write what you read, so I'm much more likely to be throwing myself into essay-writing while I'm reading essays. Once I start reading novels again (because this is a momentary hiccup. Right? Tell me I'm not done with novels!), I'll be interested in writing novels again.
I have trouble envisioning that, however. I have some stories in my head that are percolating and have been for a long time. But I get up in the morning thinking about my blog and what I can write about. When something momentous or funny or charming happens, I'm excited because I have more fodder for my blog. I don't know if I ever felt that excited about writing my fiction.
Then again, I never wrote as much for my fiction as I've written for this. Which came first, the ambivalence or the apathy?
I should take a lesson from one of my favorite modern essayists. Cheryl Peck always wanted to write the Great American Novel, never considering the little stories she wrote and shared about her family and her cat to be real writing. Then through one of the oddest publication stories ever, she self-published a book that did well for a local bookseller and that led to a New York publisher picking it up. Cheryl apparently had a hard time dealing with the possibility of success and had to have her Beloved do the talking for her in the initial conversations with the editors.
I love that story because we often put up so many obstacles to success. I think in writing this blog I have found my natural voice. It's conversational. (You've probably noticed). I always assumed I'd write something grander, which is probably why much of my fiction fizzled and wasn't exciting for me to write. I was trying to be grand, when I'm just little old punning me. Now that I let myself write conversationally, I've found several writing gigs that want me to use that exact voice. It can't be a coincidence, can it?
I hope it's clear that I have every intention of getting to 200 posts and 500 posts and beyond. I love writing this blog. I love finding funny in the strange and universal. It's just not what I thought I'd be doing with my words. But that's generally how things go. If everything worked out exactly as we planned, the world would have no delightful surprises for us. And imagine how boring that would be.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a child gumming my hand and the dancing girls are only scheduled until 6. Feel free to take some balloons home. We'll be back tomorrow, same bat time, same bat channel.