Last week I met a friend/mentor before work. Actually, she’s somebody I used to work and run with and I haven’t seen her in two years, but I want to make her my friend/mentor. Mostly because she used to work at my law firm and now she works much more reasonable hours in-house and is teaching a course at a local law school and does yoga and, most excitingly, writes! A blog and a novel!
Have I mentioned yet how I’m pretty sure all lawyers secretly or not-so want to be writers? It’s true. Two of my favorite authors* were lawyers in a previous life and scores of popular writers were lawyers and just about every lawyer I know, when I tell them Husband is a writer, tells me about a colleague of theirs who left the profession and subsequently published a book. If that many lawyers are making it as writers, just think of the scads of us who only dream about it.
I was pressing my potential mentor/friend about what kind of writing she does, because I’d read on a bio online that she was writing a novel (yes, I googled my mentor/friend before we met), but she wouldn’t come out and tell me about it (I guess that’s the kind of thing people are hesitant to confess?). She’d mentioned the blog and the teaching and a writing course she’d taken, and I asked if she also wrote fiction. No, she said, mostly personal narrative. She looked a little embarrassed. “I don’t like to read personal narrative, but I like to write it.”
Isn’t that just the sad truth? And also the problem with blogging? Now, I know it’s not completely true. If it were, I wouldn’t take the time every morning to read all your stories. So I took offense. I defended the form. “I like to read personal narrative when it’s done well,” I said.
I think a key part of doing it well is putting a little distance between myself and the story I want to tell, so that I can verify whether it’s really interesting or whether it’s really interesting to me.** So that’s what I’ve been doing in my absence: waiting until the stories worth telling emerge from the stream of tiny joys and sorrows and observations that fill my days.
*Oscar Zeta Acosta is also the reason I went to law school. Chances are you’ve never heard of him, but have heard of Dr. Gonzo from Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Totally the same person. If you want to know more about the connection between lawyering and drug trips, I recommend starting with Autobiography of a Brown Buffalo and then reading The Revolt of the Cockroach People
**Chief among things I assumed were interesting to me and not you: my puppy and the delicious meals Husband cooks. I might have been wrong about that, though, since Husband’s been writing about those things for all of one week and his page views already dwarf mine. Harumph.