This past Monday morning, I tossed some items in a bag. Just enough for one night. Okay, enough for one night with the option of changing into something different every three hours. Leave me be. I’m a girl. And Mr. Perfect wasn’t complaining. Especially when I debuted the third ensemble.
Anyway, after relocating to DC, meeting up and switching into a dress, we shuffled across town for dinner. With the food ordered and the wine poured, we started chatting. I wanted him to elaborate on something I found, well, curious. Once that was adequately tackled, he asked me a question about my writing. The honesty. The purpose. The goal. I’ve had this thrown in my lap before so I started in on my usual answer.
“The blog’s just an exercise. A stepping stone of sorts. I set a deadline and make myself post. It’s kept the pen going and has really helped me hone my skills.”
“That’s good and all but is it what you want to write?” he asked as the waiter placed my first course in front of me. “I mean, is your blog the end point?”
“It’s a stepping stone,” I repeated, slightly flustered.
He pushed a little harder, unwilling to let me get off so easily. I savored the roasted beats and chevre as they slid down my throat because I knew once I was done that forkful, I’d have to formulate an answer to a question I myself had been asking since September.
Not since this post have I been dazzled with my writing efforts. On more than one occasion, as I sat down to attempt literary brilliance, I struggled to generate literary blech. I’ve started to see my blog as my condo. If either one of these layovers is part of my future, something’s gone terribly awry.
In the last year, I’ve acquired numerous books about writing. A little of this and a little of that. I took a class at Penn. I researched but decided to pass on a class at Sarah Lawrence and a different one at the Gotham Writer’s Workshop. I've also printed the Bennington Low Residecy MFA application. Twice. It never amounted to anything more than scrap paper. For the last five months, my writing life has been similar to that odd feeling you get when you awake in the middle of the night, go to the bathroom, turn on the light, pee, turn off the light and then are left in a blinding darkness. My hands are outstretched in search of something familiar, something to guide me. But all I keep feeling is empty air.
I haven’t shared this uncertainty with anyone. Nonetheless, there it was. My dilemma on the table, and put there by someone I don’t know all that well. Or more importantly, someone who doesn’t know me all that well. I struggled to answer and by the time the second course ended up in front of me, I admitted defeat. That he made a good point and I needed to finally figure it all out.
The following day, after grabbing lunch at Bread Line and strolling past the White House lawn, we meandered into a Borders. I tossed a see-you-later in the air as we headed off in different directions. I can spend hours in a bookstore. In fact, at one point, I aspired to own one. The kind of shop that shapes and defines a small town. Like the Book Port in Kennebunkport or Mitchell’s Book Corner on Nantucket.
“This is a great book,” he said as he rounded a display while holding up a paperback I’d never heard of. “I wanted to read you one of my favorite passages. Do you mind?”
I silently nodded consent. He leaned back against the bookcase, resting his right foot on the stepstool I’d used a moment earlier to fetch a collection of short stories. I placed my left hand on his knee and listened to the words as they flowed from his lips. It was language I’d never create. Not here at least. Not while standing on this stepping stone. That wasn’t what he was trying to point out but it was what I thought as he gave life to those words.
When he finished reading, I plucked the book from his hand and added it to the collection of literature I planned on buying. He pushed himself off the bookcase, smiled and then disappeared around the corner to another area. I silently lingered right where he left me.
A few hours later, we parted ways for good. He grabbed a cab to the airport. I grabbed a cab to the train station. At around six o’clock, I arrived at my apartment door. I dropped my overnight bag on the floor, my coat on the treadmill and a bag from Wholefoods on the kitchen counter. I kicked off my shoes, grabbed a spoon and settled in on my sofa with some chicken noodle soup. The light to my left was turned to the second click and the television remained off. There on the shelf, right at eye level, was a book I’d bought well over a year ago. The perfectly pressed spine mocking me.
I didn’t fetch it. I still wasn’t ready. Plus, I had a ton of other things to deal with. But I did figure one thing out. I need to take a blog break. To regroup. To rethink. To figure out where I’m going and how best to get me moving in that direction. There’s a magnet on my desk with a saying I love. In black print on blue background are the words, it’s never too late to become what you might have been. I believe that statement wholly. The problem is I fear I have stalled out at being and have stopped trying to become. In other words, I need to figure out if I’ve lingered on this blog spot too long. I need to take a step back to get a clearer view. So I am going to do just that.
I’ll definitely return. In two weeks. Maybe less. And hopefully, in the time that separates the now from the then, I will have figured something out.