Know that you have talent, are original, and have something important to say. - Brenda Ueland

Monday, May 2, 2011

Like Nike

For weeks, I have been meaning to post about the book signing where Andre Dubus, III read from his memoir, Townie. I had to leave early so I didn’t get to meet him but after listening to him answer questions and talk about writing and his background, I felt like I knew him.

The book was incredible. Dubus was, for lack of a zingier word, nice. He seemed like a genuine person, the kind you’d enjoy hanging out with. I wanted to write the post about him, about his book.

Why haven’t I? I wrote down a few notes during the reading but the notes weren’t “good enough.” I didn’t know what to say. My idea wasn’t “good enough.”

This is an example of perfect being the enemy of the good. I wanted the idea, not to mention the execution, to be brilliant and meaningful right out of the gate. If it wasn’t, then what was the use of trying, right?

It’s an easy mentality to get into and a hard one to get out of.

In the spirit of busting through, the jumble of notes I took:

Every time you write what is true, every time, you get closer to writing what you didn’t know. (He was quoting Grace Paley. I think what he said was that the when you write true, you discover things that you didn’t know that you knew.)

Truth is the only thing that transfers a feeling from one heart to another.

Writing is bridging the distance from one person to another.

About his memoir of growing up in Massachusetts mill town:

I love that town. I love that I’m from there.

Next time, I won’t slink around for two months because my notes and my idea wasn’t good enough. I’ll take a deep breath and just do it.

Isn’t that what writing is always like?