“You should commit publicly to finishing your book by May,” my friend said to me today. “That would force you to get it done.”
As he talked, I was scrolling down the forgotten chapters of my Russian memoir. I looked at the date when I started writing it. 2011 is a frightening number. Almost three years have gone by. I don’t know when I gave up on it, but sometime, in the midst of the mess that my life has become, it became irrelevant. Often, I remembered it and sometimes mentioned it, feeling the pain of failure in my gut.
Just the idea of having to finish a book by May, only having written seven, and not well edited chapters, was impossible. I would have to be insane to commit to something like that. But rumor has it that Shelley wrote the first draft of Frankenstein in under a week. I wish, and at the same time, fear that I could suspend myself into a writing bubble for a whole week and do nothing and think of nothing except my life. Because writing this would just be a long meditation on that.
I don’t know why I want so much to write this story. My friend, Saul, recently said it best and luckily New York Times thought so too. “Writing was not a matter of taking a prefabricated thought and setting it down on paper, but using the act of setting words down on paper to determine just what that thought might be.”
There is a duality in all of us. We live only with ourselves but in many ways, we know ourselves least. I have become fascinated with myself in the mirror. I often catch myself during a busy workday. There I am. I look different to myself than I thought I looked. Everyone in the office could see me, except for me.
In conversations with people, I can see their strengths and their weaknesses clearly, but I know that they don’t see what I see. In the same way, I don’t see my own. We are strange creatures, physically forced to look out with our eyes instead of in, even though, looking in, solves so many of our problems.
I wish to write this book, so that I have a long chance to look inside, to dissect my innards and to release the stench that rotting memories could cause.