If you live in Portland, ME, and you happen to see a MacBook Air (silver), a Moleskine notebook (red), and a pair of Toms (black) all in the same place, chances are I’m not far away. And if you’ve ducked your head into a local coffee shop, you can take those chances and multiply them by about ten. Portland is pretty small. Pretty small, and pretty adorable.
I’m writing from a new place today, and I like it. I like it because I get my own succulent. Who knew succulents could be so distracting?
I know it might look like I’m some kind of a strange succulent-starer, but I’m not — I promise. I’m just thinking. How personal is too personal?
I’ve been working on an introduction (for that book I’ve been mentioning, beginning here) for the last two and a half weeks. Is that an atrociously long time? I have no idea. I’m new at this. The first week, I wrote and wrote and wrote — before realizing that all I’d really done was introduce myself to the idea of a book.
The second week, I got a little more comfortable with it. Kept writing. Kept scowling out the window. (Kept on studying plants.)
It took me a full fifteen days to realize something else: I’m not writing a memoir, the way I’d originally planned. This is actually good, because I’m only twenty-three. Statistically speaking, I haven’t had a whole lot of time to collect Memoir Material.
It’s really more of a coming of age story — this thing that I’m writing now. This thing that feels so far from ever becoming a book. So painfully far. As it turns out, it’s not so easy to write about coming of age when all signs say you still haven’t quite managed it.
Still, wasn’t that a good conclusion for me to have drawn? I thought so. I thought it was reason enough to for us to go out and celebrate, a little.
Maybe swap out a little — maybe what I really meant was a lot. (Insert exclamation points here.) There was Mashed Potato, Bacon, and Scallion (for savory) and Butternut Squash, Ricotta, and Cranberry (for sweet). There was also Bliss, the morning after.
Afterwards, there was a harder decision to make. One I still haven’t made. I’m sort of stuck, you see. And I don’t think a plant (flowering or otherwise) is going to be able to help me out. Not on this one. Maybe I should try a tree, instead? They’re older, wiser. They’ve been around a time or two. They’ve been through the rain. We can keep going!!
In all seriousness, though: I can’t decide if I should be changing names [in the book]. Not my name — I’m happy to “star” as myself. Although…if you wanted to skip that whole section where I was an entitled and ungrateful wretch, right after I graduated from college, that’d be okay with me.
It’s the other names that I’m worried about. Because it’s one thing to expose myself, but it’s quite another to do that to someone else. Without their permission.
To be clear: the book is outrageously autobiographical, in the same way this blog has become. The two have the exact same voice. My voice. But my voice is a combination of a million other voices. And I think I’d be a fool, not to acknowledge that.
I also think I’d be a fool — an absolute fool — not to take a quick second to insert a few potato chips into my panini. There will be pauses for strategic snacking in the book too — don’t you worry.
Anyway: I’ve had a lot of help cobbling together my voice. I’ve pulled it from a lot of people. People like my mom (who did graciously give me the green light to write whatever I wanted about their divorce, in case you were wondering).
And people like my first love (who has, kind of thankfully, never been too interested in reading anything I’ve written). Also my second love (who happens to be 100% okay with dominating an ill-fated chapter or two — and who sweetly continues to be my strongest, silent supporter).
Not to mention: siblings, relatives, friends, and friends of friends. Co-workers, bosses, therapists, doctors, baristas — anyone who made me want to write, really. (Hi, Marian!) Even random people on the subway. I don’t discriminate!
I’d like to know what you think. Even though I think I already know what I’d like to do. What I’m probably going to do.
(Spoiler alert: it doesn’t involve assigning a name like “Bob” to my college sweetheart. I tried that already. Tell me “Bob” doesn’t call a middle-aged used car salesman to mind. Tell me!)