It’s too hot to write much. Days like this are better for reading, and I have some eighty-year-old love letters calling my name. I can’t offer you those, but here are other things you can read while reclining with a lemon-rosemary vodka fizz:
Shani Hilton has a lovely piece at the Awl this week on Andy Griffith and Mayberry nostalgia.
Have a look at this M.F.K. Fisher essay about Queen Victoria and Fisher’s own grandmother, then run out and buy all of her books at AbeBooks. Sample sentence which single-handedly proves that the multi-clausal thought can still reign supreme: “It was culturally and politically necessary to serve them at Windsor, with comparative stinginess and only a perfunctory lingering of the port, but at the Iowa table wines never showed their faces, and the known fact that grandmother’s revered husband kept a generously full decanter in his sanctum sanctorum was a lasting grievance to her teetotaler’s spirit, little though she let it show in her ladylike stoicism.”
Then read the archives of Kate Christensen’s blog to tide you over.
If you are feeling down about yourself and writing, I find it helps to realize that feeling down about yourself and writing is the universal writerly condition. C.F. Zadie Smith, for example:
We cannot be all the writers all the time. We can only be who we are. Which leads me to my second point: writers do not write what they want, they write what they can. When I was 21 I wanted to write like Kafka. But, unfortunately for me, I wrote like a script editor for The Simpsons who’d briefly joined a religious cult and then discovered Foucault. Such is life. And now, when I finish a long day of CNN-related fear and loathing mixed with eyeballing my own resolutely white screen, I do not crawl into bed with 500-page comic novels about (God help me, but it’s OK; I’m going to call on the safety of quote marks) “multicultural” London. I read Carver. Julio Cortázar. Amis’s essays. Baldwin. Lorrie Moore. Capote. Saramago. Larkin. Wodehouse. Anything, anything at all, that doesn’t sound like me.
Sick of sound of own voice. Sick of trying to make own voice appear on that white screen. Sick of trying to pretend, for sake of agent and family, that idea of putting words on blank page feels important.
If she feels bad sometimes, it’s clearly not a sign of imminent failure that you do, too.
I’ll be back next week.