The fine print
I FOUND myself in the public library today. What I mean is not that I had some blinding self-realization, but rather that I found out my articles are on file at the 10th Avenue annex of the New York Public Library. Come to think of it, I did sort of find myself in that '60s sense, too, I mean, there's something extremely reassuring about seeing one's name in a table of contents. Especially in this case because a lot of the articles listed I had completely forgotten about. I felt a bit like an amnesiac looking at an old scrapbook and getting a memory jog.
I stopped writing for about a year. It was a good thing to do. I had reached a point where I could not delineate myself apart from my words. I had what is called in computer parlance overflow-ing files. I needed to see if I could still be me if I wasn't a writer.
I found out I could. I looked the same, talked the same, walked the same (which is at best a mixed blessing). But I also learned I couldn't be me at my best without writing. Writing is the way I think, the way I view the world. It was like trying to make a horse eat puffed rice instead of oats, or asking a painter to dance. It's possible, but not practical.
The most important thing I learned or rather remembered during my year of not writing is that I like to write. In fact, I love it. I remembered the first time I was paid for something I had written. I remember thinking, you mean you can do what you love and get paid for it, too[? What a wonderful world this is.
There are days I would write without being paid for it, days I would pay someone else to let me write. And there are those days you have to pay me to do my job.
But to think there is a place in every city where not only can people read for free but also writers can go and see that they have accomplished something, even if not a very lot, well, it's just like I said. What a wonderful world this is.