So it’s my turn to write the blog. Hananah missed last week, for various reasons. I don’t mean to call her out, but that’s what I’m doing right now, apparently.
I thought about writing about writing about writing. Yup. Such as Dani Shapiro’s Still Writing and Anne Lamott’s Bird By Bird. I thought about telling you how the lights went out on Honoree Fanonne Jeffers’ reading at Vanderbilt on Thursday. Twice. And how, the first time, she was midway through a poem, and she kept reading as the sweet unfortunate new arrivals, who didn’t mean to turn off the lights, searched for how to turn them back on.
Only after everyone erupted in applause at the end of her poem, finished in the light, did I realize what the rest of the audience already understood. That she had continued reading on memory. (I can be a slow one. I was also right next to the light switch and trying to help.) And she was a total badass, indeed.
But what I really want to write about is how Hananah is in a writing slump. There are various reasons for these things; we all experience such moments in life. I get it.
But selfishly, I have realized that without her there in the same kind of writing momentum I am in, I am frustrated. I want her to be writing and editing with me. I want that rah-rah-rah from her. I need it. But what it forces me to realize is that most writers do not have a companion. Writing IS the solitary endeavor they write quotes about.
But for Hananah and me, we damn near co-write some of these stories. Not really, but we are the first editors. We can often see a change in a story that we suggested. I’ve talked about this before, but that’s why we call these stories our nieces and nephews. By the time they are published, we know each other’s work nearly well enough to keep reading it in the dark.
Han has hit a speed bump, and I am blogging about it. There is irony in this. When she suggested doing this blog, I wasn’t 100% in. She messaged me and said, “Do you want to do a blog?” And I said, “Let’s talk about it.” And she said, “Well, your first post is due tomorrow. Here’s a link to the site.”
She is spontaneous where I am not. She is not too afraid to hit one of life’s speed bumps in front of people. I am terrified. And yet, I have dutifully returned to doing this blog, even when she hasn’t. Partly, I am just dependable like that, but I am clearly getting something else out of it. What?
So, I wrote the previous paragraphs yesterday, because I hit the “What?” question, and I had to sleep on it. I didn’t know.
The answer: this blog has made me grow. As a writer and a person.
Before this blog, I was flailing around writing whatever seemed to come to me, unsure of how to organize my energies. Now, I am smack in the middle of a book project, which feels amazing. I feel organized and focused. I even have a second project on the side.
But the setbacks have been as important as the advances. Publicly admitting to some embarrassing failures in this blog is something I would never have done before. And yet, I was surprised by how many people related to my confession post. I’m always surprised that anyone even reads this, let alone relates to it.
So even though the act of writing is the “solitary business” it is famous for, having camaraderie with others who understand is so important. And I am grateful to Hananah for being the writing companion she is and for pushing me to do this blog with her.
I know Hananah will be out of her slump soon. Today starts NanoWriMo, and Hananah loves nothing more than an official fresh start. She will be flinging herself into November like Leeroy Jenkins ran screaming into a room full of awaiting monsters despite the odds against him and the carefully laid plans of his teammates.
And hell. So will I.
(Goddamn it, Leeroy.)