I’m just going to write because I cannot help it.
— Charlotte Bronte
(Hat tip to Chris Brogan for the topic idea – I had a bit of writer’s block and googled “things to blog about.” Yes, I am a dork, we’ve established that.)
1. Letters I Never Sent: This is actually a real idea I have for a book, and I even started it several years ago, but never finished, and I think I lost the disk it was on, which breaks my heart. I’m a writer by nature – it’s much easier for me to write things than to say them out loud (which is why I do appellate work as a lawyer rather than trial work: more writing, less talking) – and since high school, I’ve saved letters I’ve written to people but never sent. I thought it might be a neat idea as a work of non-fiction, but seeing as I’ve run out of letters – somehow I stopped writing them and never sending them a few years ago; I guess I got brave – to be a complete work, it might have to become fiction.
Most of the letters are to guys, not surprisingly; they’re the ones I generally have the most trouble communicating openly with, because I tend to get nervous around them if I like them. Plus, I blow everything out of proportion. A lot of them are to J, many of them to M, a couple to P, and there are numerous letters to “random” other guys (random only in the sense that you all haven’t heard about them, not like I write letters to strangers on the street or anything). There are some to my female friends – I came across one I’d forgotten I’d written a few days ago looking through old documents on my computer – but not many. I have a much easier time saying exactly what I think to the women I am close to.
2. A book of short stories: I lack both the creativity and the patience to craft a novel, but give me 10 pages and I can go to town. I’ve got a bunch of half-finished stories rolling around my hard drive, and a couple that I really love; I’d like to take some time to sit with them again and see if I can’t reach a conclusion. One of them I re-read recently, and when I got to the end, I thought, “I can’t wait to see what happens next!” And then I remembered that it’s, um, ME who has to figure that out.
3. A book of poems: I’ve been writing poetry as long as I can remember. I have them all saved in a particular notebook that has a color coded key to remind me who they’re about. The really good ones need no explanation, but more than 15 years removed from some of them, I have no clue who I was thinking of when I wrote them. Some of them are truly terrible, and I’m a little ashamed of them, and they will NOT be in my book.
4. A book of my family’s history: There are so many stories that have become sort of family lore, and the people who tell them won’t be around forever, and I would be so sad to lose the touchstones of my family’s life. My grandma often sends me long emails about different things – sometimes just what she did this week, but sometimes about her mother and siblings, and I save them all. My grandfather is forever telling stories around the holiday dinner table, and while I’m listening, I’m trying to will myself to remember every word, so I can tell the Princess and the Conductor and my own kids someday. The thing I can’t do, though, is formally go and ask them to tell me these stories so I can record them, because the thought of it – what it really means – makes me unbearably sad. I know that’s foolish – ignoring their mortality won’t make them live forever – and I know I’ll regret it when they’re gone if I don’t do it, but I don’t even know how to broach the subject. Even just writing about it here is bringing tears to my eyes. Have any of you done this? Do you have any advice for me?
5. If I ever get to be famous and fabulous, I’ll write my autobiography. Oh, who am I kidding? Once I’m famous and fabulous, I’ll have “people” to do that for me!
What books do you want to write?