What is it about time with certain authors that makes me want to write?
Geneen Roth (kinda).
Looking at the list du jour, it seems that those who make me want to write are those who write like me, or those whom I want to write like, and on my better days, just might.
I suppose this is good, this identifying with what I want, with who I am as a writer, identifying the writer in the other writer that communes with the writer in this writer. I suppose that’s healthy. And it certainly makes this writer a better writer.
I want to add Sue Monk Kidd to that list as well, I guess because When the Heart Waits was so absolutely written for me, but somehow she doesn’t actually make me want to sit down and write like the others.
Sitting by the fireplace last night, alternating between WtHW and the latest re-read of Anne Lamott (Traveling Mercies, if you must know), I took a little time to appreciate the difference, the big why of who I want to be as a writer.
What I came up with is this: Sue Monk Kidd, at least in my limited experience of her, takes me deeper, and always manages to point me back towards the surface, but she is lacking the ability to tickle my funny bone, and I have a hard time bobbing out there in the depths without a few good laughs. The deeper part is fantastic, and any writer who can really lure me into the dark underwater parts of myself, while still keeping me grounded in the light earns more respect that I’m even aware I have, every time. But apparently that isn’t all I need to be inspired as a writer, to hold a work up as something to aspire to. For me, the depths–even with ample oxygen from above–are unbearable without a little nitrous to take the edge off.
Beyond just a realistic and hardened balancing of light and dark, I need to be able to laugh–at the absurdities of life, at myself–if I’m going to stick around and get anywhere. Monk Kidd has a few gems sprinkled about, just enough to keep me around, but she rarely elicits belly laughs. Or even giggles. This kid needs a little bit more.
Mike Perry? He’s all light and airy surface intervals, with carefully placed deep dives. That’s alright too. And the man has humor wrapped around his pinky like a string.
Geneen Roth? Funny gal. Good balance. But I can’t help but notice that she writes 98% about weight loss, and relate on a 0.5% level. Sure, I can apply most of what she says to every other facet of this roller coaster life, but sometimes I think I’m spending too much time thinking about my refrigerator.
But Anne Lamott?
Yeah, she’s got me.
She takes me deep, brings the lifeline of Light and Life and Love, but also brings a freshly-filled tank of laughing gas, and regularly offers me a hit. Then we go a little deeper. I love that.
That’s the kind of writer I want to be.
Pendulation. It’s a thing. Look it up.
Just as we need a little acclimation to the seasonal changes–a dipping in and jumping back out, from the uncomfortable and seemingly unendurable, back to the safe and the warm–good writing drops us into hard spaces, intolerable and forlorn, and then brings us back to the surface, where the blue sky radiates and the sun always shines. And every now and then it offers us the facemask.
So, help me out… Who else should be on my To Read list?
I’ll be waiting,