I declared in January that 2017 was going to be it- this was the year I'd finally write a novel. So, I thought about it for a few weeks. And then February came. Nothing. Then March came and I read This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett, a collection of essays she has written about her life, many of which relate to her writing career. I absolutely inhaled this book and started planning a trip to Nashville to visit her bookstore and added all of her books that I didn't already own to my shopping cart on Amazon (sorry, Ann, I know you hate big-box sellers). This book made me feel like I could be a writer, at least at some point, and to some degree. Maybe not a greatly successful one, but one that could eventually get a book out of her.
I saw Patchett read a few years ago and my initial first impression wasn't completely positive. She's matter-of-fact and honest; she doesn't sugar coat things and she obviously possesses unwavering strength that she doesn't hide. All in all, I thought she was a bit abrasive. But at she continued to talk those initial criticisms became positives and she grew on me. Going into this collection, I knew that there would be the same voice in her essays, and I was right. But she is much more articulate through writing (something I can relate to), and much more likable. She shares her stories about the struggles she went through writing her first book, and it made me feel that despite my busy schedule and mountains of obligations I could somehow do it, like her. She wanted it and made it happen.
One thing I greatly admire about Patchett is that her writing is accessible but complex. She isn't concerned with over-the-top figurative language, humor, or complicated narrative structures. Instead her writing is like how she speaks- it's honest, flowing, and smart. Even in essays, which I sometimes struggle to keep my interest tied to, she has mastered a format that works for her and her message. They flow and demand the reader pay attention. She is commanding.
After about halfway through this book I stopped and wrote a short story (really, really short...). Like I literally stopped reading, got out my computer, and just wrote for a half an hour. And what I didn't even realize at the time is that what I was writing would fit perfectly into a project that I started maybe four or five years ago, which I had abandoned not due to disinterest or dislike, but simply because of all of the other things that demanded my attention in life. The process was motivating and made me hopeful.
So, I don't really know if 2017 will be the year I get serious about writing. I hope it is, but I have to be realistic. Between work, being a mom, taking care of the house and sleep my week days are pretty much spoken for. Weekends are hard too. Summer is coming, though, and I am cautiously optimistic that I can get some serious writing in then. But, time gets away from us, even when it seems like there is plenty of it.
Someday, no matter what, it will happen. Even if I am seventy and my grandchildren make fun of me for it.