Desires, complaints, and whimsies: A personal essay
It’s been a year and a half since I’ve written here, and before that, nearly a year. When I think about why, several reasons come to mind, but the most significant is one most worthy; I wrote a novel. This November represents the four-year mark of the beginning of the project and much has changed in that time. I’ve changed.
I’ve learned that unlike writing a personal essay, writing fiction takes a toll on some aspects of life more than others. Cooking has become more of an interruption than an interest (not a good thing if you have a food-focused blog), evidence of consistent housework is sorely lacking (some things never change), and sadly, reading novels for pleasure has decreased substantially (but the key thing is that I do read). The desire to travel seems to be the only thing that has increased. Evidently, getting out of my head when writing fiction requires more than a long walk down the hill.
Since my last post in February of 2015, we’ve traveled to Austria, Switzerland, Germany, taken a road trip up the California coast to Santa Barbara and Big Sur, visited an old friend in January to enjoy the snow in western New York, and most recently, spent a week in London before venturing to Southwest England to hike more than 80 miles through Wiltshire, Dorset and Somerset. Certainly, I could write about the “how to” of those experiences, but that would cast a shadow over what made my travels personal.
So where does all of this lead? Perhaps it’s the reason I’m here now, writing. The time I’ve spent away has provided much needed space and as most things in life I feel the need to escape (excellent fodder for kellementology, my other website), the time has been productive. I’ve learned that as much as I can write fiction and feel good about my effort, I miss the more personal writing an essay offers. Like a good, long walk, it clears my mind and once finished, I have a sense of moving on from whatever I felt the need to write about. I’m ready to take on everything else. In my everyday life, that could be anything from tackling the clutter in our house to organizing my digital photos. With respect to this website, writing about food, my travels, and life related to each in ways I haven’t experimented with may be of interest. Whatever it is, it will be personal in nature.
Phillip Lopate, editor of The Art of the Personal Essay: An Anthology from the Classical Era to the Present, explains it best:
“The hallmark of the personal essay is its intimacy. The writer seems to be speaking directly into your ear, confiding everything from gossip to wisdom. Through sharing thoughts, memories, desires, complaints, and whimsies, the personal essayist sets up a relationship with the reader, a dialogue–a friendship, if you will, based on identification, understanding, testiness, and companionship.”
If anything describes how I feel about sass & veracity at this point, nearly ten years after I first wrote here, Lopate’s words do so perfectly. Sometimes, it takes me a while to find the right way.
I hope you’ll join me when you can–if only to celebrate a few moments in an otherwise busy day where the direction we’re going will be decided upon a whim. Perhaps there will be recipes. Perhaps not. We’ll see.
There will be photos.