Anyone that knows me well knows that I have only one real goal in life: To write a book. I’d probably exert myself a bit and come up with a few more goals, but I think that one is enough. To be able to sit at home every day, drinking coffee and writing for a living…ahhh, well, I could think of nothing better. Hmm, scratch that. Doing it in a house in Maine that overlooks a lake…now that would be the life.
Trying to get a job here was stressful and time-consuming and kept me away from the pen and paper. The self-induced depression that set in on the days I really didn’t want to be unemployed anymore was **fun and didn’t give me the best mindset I needed to write. But now? Now I’ll probably just be too busy with work and tired because of work to write as much as I did this summer. It’s a vicious cycle of laziness, exhaustion and no motivation. I hate it. And so in creating writing goals for myself in 2009-2010, I thought about a few books, people and things from my past that inspired me to write in the first place and have inspired me to keep writing. Here is my list:
1. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler: It’s taken me about 5 years of reminding myself to look up this book and after a quick google search (kids runaways the Met), I found it! Finally! I ordered it from Amazon today so that I can reread and remember the reasons I fell in love with this book at the age of 9. This book is timeless and should be read by all kids before they finish elementary school.
2. The South Berwick Library: “You dropped a 150 grand on a fuckin’ education you could have gotten for a dollar fifty in late charges at the public library.” Ahh, I’ll always find a way to quote Good Will Hunting, and it’s true. You can learn more in a library in one summer than you can in four years at college. As a former (somewhat) latchkey kid living in small town Maine, I spent a lot of my days at the library, unless I was at Meme’s, baking muffins or playing rummy. I think it’s sad that most kids today have never been inside the library in their town and have no idea what a library card looks like. A library card is worth more than any credit card.
3. My high school English teacher. I will refrain from naming him, as I’m fb friends with his daughters, but anyone that went to high school with me will know who I’m talking about. I haven’t seen or talked to him more than once or twice since high school, and I’m sure he has no idea how much he influenced me, but when I write, I still think sometimes about what he’d have to say. His standards were high and he was honest, and more importantly, he treated us like adults and didn’t put up with our bullshit. He was funny and swore every fifth sentence, invited us over for the holidays and had the best stories to tell. He made me want to write, or teach, and I’ll never forget my favorite line that came out of his mouth. “Sophia Loren can park her slippers under my bed any day of the week…” Every writer has an old English teacher they’d like to thank. I have mine.
4. Hatchet. I have no idea why this book has been stuck in the back of my head for over two decades, but it has. Did I just say two decades? Jesus. I think I have something for books that have some sort of survival of the fittest/children in nature theme… I’ll have to order this one too.
5. The Catcher in the Rye: Obviously. In trying not to be too generic (picking this book makes it already too late for that…) I’ll at least explain that I love this book because it always reassures me that I can write a book in first person. God, there is nothing I love more than writing in stream of conciousness. Another book that’s fantastic for this is A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. Worth noting is my favorite quote which starts on p. 305 and finishes with this little gem on p. 306. “Why are these people not noticing? Why is it not considered unusual that I’m writhing on the floor? Have I writhed on this carpet before? I try to think of when that might have happened—.”
6. The Dixon Ticonderoga Classic #2 Pencil: Nothing is better than having your favorite writing tool. Mine is the pencil, extra sharp. I will never pick a pen over this pencil. It will always be my favorite.
7. Mother of Sorrows: Because Richard McCann writes in a way that I cannot yet.
8. Etsy journals: I’m sucker for homemade paper. I don’t like lines on my paper and I like to feel the paper bump and smooth under my pencil as I write. That, and they make really cute journals. I could have one for every occasion and never be satisfied.
9. The Image. It’s actually bizarre that I’ve fallen in love with the old school writing image—the starving artist, deep, dark,tragically misunderstood, scotch drinking, brilliant, tortured soul. It’s not very becoming, and I don’t think anyone normal sets out to reduce themselves to a crazy, alcoholic, writing machine, but it’s romantic, in a very unusual, twisted way….
10. The Pulitzer Prize: There’s always a prize for the best at everything. This is my prize.
But what’s the real reason I keep writing? Because when life really sucks, sometimes it’s the only thing you have left. You, your thoughts, and your pencil. And for me, that’s enough.