September 10, 2019

What do you do? people ask. I’m a writer, I answer. All my life, always, even when the answer includes writer and… Even during the seasons when this fact was more like fiction. I’m a writer, I answer, a gut reaction, a compulsion, a thing I can’t stop saying no matter how predictable the conversation that follows. What do you write? people ask, and I know what they’re thinking: copywriter, journalist, scribbler of quippy gimmicks about hair products, new technology, all the cool things in this vastly cool world. Creative nonfiction, memoir, I tell them. I write about myself, vastly uncool and still mostly inscrutable, despite having spent the better part of my life in my own head. Oh, they say. Are you writing a book? Yes, I say. Always. At any given time, I am writing a book and have many others waiting in the wings. But I only write one at a time. I am a serial monogamist, in it for the long haul, even when my books become as inscrutable as lovers, staring back at me from the pages like we speak a different language. What is it you’re trying to tell me? we say to each other, and now I’m back in my head and out of the conversations with the people, who’ve moved onto a different topic, having reached the end of their interest in my work. Why do you write? is a question I am rarely asked, and yet, I have an answer: it’s a gut reaction, a compulsion, a thing I can’t stop doing, even when the work unravels like yarn in my hands, and what was once a neat little ball becomes a pile of chaos, tangled, inscrutable, begging to be questioned, to find out just what it is we are trying to do.

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