Thursday, June 28, 2007

Best American Essays

I like making lists. I like keeping track. I like having too many things on my plate. I read Dr. Crazy’s lists of accomplishments and hoped-for accomplishments avidly and I’ve been reading Sandra’s slog through The Artist’s Way with equal interest. I have my own lists--of deadlines and of dreams--and then, too, there are the lists of prizes, the volumes of bests that, perhaps, some day, I might find my own name in. (A girl can dream, can’t she?)

Those annual volumes of The Best American Essays edited by the essayist of the moment under Robert Atwan’s direction have been floating around the house a lot lately. My husband’s reading essays for a couple of his projects, so these books keep showing up wherever he’s been reading. Each time I see them, self-flagellating narcissist that I am, I remember with some pain, that I’m not in there.

Well, of course, Anne, because you didn’t publish an essay…or write one…

I’d really like to write essays. I plan to. But that’s the problem--I plan to every day. Do I? Can I? A year ago, a friend asked me to contribute an essay to his journal. Sure. And, though I’ve written a couple thousand words, it’s awful and needs to be scrapped.

I have some hope that I can start over during my travels to family over the next five weeks.

I’m not upset about this. Just interested.

So many of us want to write. So much of the challenge lies in actually setting pen to paper, and then, once that’s done, in crafting it into something worthy.

6 comments:

Gayla said...

I know how you feel--my husband and my kids and my daily life leave so little time to try to write, and when I do have time to write, I put so much pressure on myself to produce that I can't get anything done.

Dorothy W. said...

That certainly is the challenge -- sitting down and putting the hours in. It's amazing how the words can accumulate once a person sits down to write them, but also amazing how hard it is to sit down and do the writing!

Kate S. said...

I aspire to essays as well. I so enjoy reading them that I would like to have a go at writing them as well. But of course, as you say, the difficulty is actually sitting down and doing it. I'm cheered by the fact that blogging, at least a certain type of blogging, strikes me as a very good warm up for the writing of personal essays.

genevieve said...

I agree with Kate that blogging is an excellent warmup - there will certainly be some posts that open up to you as potential essays, Anne. You've got the right stuff there already - just keep going :)

Anne said...

I love what Dorothy says about the words pouring out: I spend so much of my non-writing time "writing" in my head that if I ever do get to the computer, sometimes, 1000 words just pour out at a pop.

I remember, on my commute, that Wordsworth used his walks to work out his poems, that Woolf "wrote" her novels, too, walking, so that feels companionable (if a bit mad).

Anyway, your encouragement--all of it--is lovely.

All right, back to work...

brd said...

You are, perhaps, at a stage in life when things are germinating underground. You are doing, right now, an important part of your work. Don't "demean" (not quite the right word here) the part of living and writing that is invisible. It is almost everything.