Is anyone else finding it hard to make words?
In the past two weeks, I have started and stopped three separate letters. None of them will be thrown away or forgotten, I want to finish them all, and they are about things, things that matter, at least to me. But I keep getting partway and then wandering off lost, like the trail of breadcrumbs has just gone missing, pecked up by some jerk of a bird.
I’m still producing. Every day I sit down and draw or paint. I go out into the neighborhood and take pictures. I am planning things, building, arranging. But the words. They’ve disappeared. And the ones that are still standing, eagerly waving their hands, waiting to be picked, are kind of dumb, even these (sorry, guys).
Maybe it’s because I am feeling wary of putting so many personal things on a page for others to see. Maybe it’s because I want to write something that is not inherently about my life. I am thinking of fiction, wondering if I have it in me, studying Steinbeck’s letters and parsing how he works. Maybe it’s because it’s January and we are stuck between seasons. It likely has something to do with the fact that this week, the deadline is here. Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Later this week, Barack Obama will leave office, to be replaced by Donald Trump. How is that reality? So much about that sentence aches. I don’t understand why people have welcomed 2017, because this is what it promises. So often, these days, I am without words.
I don’t want to stay quiet, though. You can read that any way you wish, because it has many meanings. And so today’s letter is short, without a greater purpose, without a coherent narrative, tossed out there for anyone who wants to read it mostly to tell you that I am still here, that we are all still here. Sometimes we are quiet and sometimes we are lost, but we’re here. That is something.
Maybe you can also do something for me. Tell me, what do you like reading? If you come back to this weekly letter, what would you like to find? Would you rather I wait to send something until I have a complete, finished story? Or is there something to these brief, inchoate updates that is still valuable?
This project started because I needed to do it for myself. I still need it, but as more of you have subscribed and read—listened, really—I have realized that this letter is also for you. At least, I want it to be. I hope you get something from it. So, please, tell me. What do you get? What do you want? That is an open question. Thank you.