An Accomplishment Worth Remembering
I keep thinking there's something I should be accomplishing during this convalescence, but I can't for the life of me figure out what that might be.
I stave off the seasonal depression and anxiety much better if I have some goal to propel me into each new year. My memoir has given me that direction in years past. But lately I'm questioning whether I want to finish the book at all. I'm bored to tears by the Satanic cult angle. I'm more interested in memory: how people's memories change and shift over time. And how those memories shape our identities and our view of the world, our entire lives, in effect, when those memories are so unreliable. They are unreliable, but they are all we have. That's the real tragicomedy.
Maybe that's why I've been so resistant toward writing the book lately. I've painted myself into a corner. I changed the cover letter to give more focus to the historical angle back in August, when I had an agent pitch session. Something that I'm mostly unenthusiastic about, except for the parts directly relevant to my own family investigation.
I read a new Alex Marr piece the other day. The writing I most enjoy is richly layered with research and surprising connections. That's the type of writing that breaks through for me, that transcends the medium. Not just another person's experience -- those are a dime a dozen these days -- but the drawing of a new conclusion from an eclectic collection of knowledge. It's what I enjoy most about Maggie Nelson's work, too.
How can I balance the work required to write articles up to my own high standards while also striving to achieve the prolificacy of, say, Roxane Gay? Or is this just meant to be a fallow period in my writing life? And if so, will it one day give way to fruit, or just bring more of the same?