lazy writer

2 Aug

Today I checked one of my favorite blogs for the fifth time in as many weeks to see that it still has not been updated. I know what you’re going to say. “Emi, do you actually check all the webpages you like individually to see if they’re updated? Why don’t use an RSS reader?”

To which I reply, “I did do that, until approximately 5 minutes ago when I decided my blog-reading has grown enough that it actually makes way more sense to use GoogleReader instead of visiting each individual site”.

Then, in our fake conversation, you would say, “Also, Emi, I’ve noticed you don’t update your own blog very often”

To which I would reply, “I know” and hang my head a little guiltily.

I won’t pretend this is anyone’s favorite blog that they check even 1/4 as often as I check Hyperbole and a Half, but I still want to apologize for my lack of posting lately. I get so irritated when blogs I follow aren’t updated in a timely manner. In fact, whether or not a blog is updated frequently is one of the deciding factors in how much I like it and whether or not I continue to acknowledge its existence. Hyperbole is so hilarious that I still check it from time to time to see if there’s anything new up, but if it weren’t so funny I would’ve given up on it a long time ago. So, anyway, sorry guys.

I can’t promise there’s any huge reformation coming by way of daily or even weekly blog posts on my part, but we’ll see what happens, eh?

One thing I wanted to talk about tonight before I got distracted by GoogleReader was my initial love affair with memoir. I went through a period from when I was about 16 to 22 years old wherein memoir was almost the only non-required reading I ever did. My reading during this period included everything from sassy, single ladies books such as “Kiss My Tiara” by Susan Jane Gilman to ruminations on faith like “Traveling Mercies” by Anne Lamott. I think a lot of what I was doing was trying to figure out what my experiences would be in the coming years – trying to look at someone else’s experiences and make decisions about how I wanted to handle my own when they came my way. I think that’s why so many of the memoirs I read were written by women – it was just more relatable for me.

I have always been a sort of up-close-and-personal writer. I wrote a lot of poetry in high school, which I think is part of what formed me into the kind of writer I am today – a somewhat narcissistic one. Poetry is such an intimate genre, such a personal genre, but also so accessible and quick. I journaled from a young age, and writing poetry was a very natural and fluid next step, because it is instantly gratifying in a similar way and it is almost as personal – or, at least, it has been for me. Almost every poem I’ve ever written has been essentially about me, or about my experience. Perhaps it was natural then that I would subsequently become so attracted to memoir as a genre.

The turning point in my memoir reading came with David Sedaris and Augusten Burroughs – reading Naked and Running With Scissors were probably my first forays into reading memoir written by men – reading it and really liking it, anyway. Both men are very relatable, still I couldn’t have less in common with witty, gay, grown-ass men with their individual problems and addictions then when I was a 17-year-old high school girl working part-time at Red Lobster. Previous to this, I had thought of memoirs as instruction manuals or at least guideposts – kind of “this is how I did it, you don’t have to do it this way, but this is one way you can do it”. Reading Sedaris and Burroughs, no one would mistake those books for instruction manuals – in no way were these men saying “do it like this”.

In retrospect, I don’t think Lamott or Gilman were saying that either – but that’s certainly how I was reading their work, and my experience of how I read memoir changed when I started reading memoir that wasn’t immediately relatable back down to my own experiences. I had never been an alcoholic, had never had O.C.D., had never been gay. I also didn’t grow up in the South, or in the 60s and 70s, and my parents weren’t insane.

What I love about memoir now, all these years later, is that a good memoir is great even if you have absolutely nothing in common with the person writing it. The point of reading memoir for me now has shifted to being more about someone else’s experience than my own. I still feel a little bit more of a buzz or “aha” when I read something I can really relate to – but my basis for relating has broadened so much. When I was 16, relating meant finding something that was exactly alike, whereas now it just means finding something that I get, that I understand.

As a writer, memoir is also my favorite thing to write now. Again, this seems like a natural progression to me, from journaling to poetry to blogging to memoir. It is reflective of the innate narcissism in my work. I keep saying that word and I suppose it could sound negative, but I think it’s just factual. People write for so many different reasons – I just think my reason is me. It’s like a compulsion to tell my story. And not because my story is especially interesting, or because it’s over – but just because it’s a story, and one that I know inside and out. I don’t have to think too hard about how to tell it and I don’t have to develop characters, I just have to explain them well.

Maybe memoir is the lazy writers boon. I certainly am the laziest of writers.

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