February 14 Friday
Today, I’m starting on the long, tortured journey of writing a book that perhaps no one will read but may take years to complete. I’m terrified, scared shitless. To keep on target, I’m writing this blog, exposing to many or no one this quixotic enterprise. Quixotic indeed, as it can’t be categorized: part memoir, part fiction, part exploration of sociology, history, anthropology. gender, race. A sprinkling of French. My grandmother and her sisters insisted they hailed from France. Really they emigrated from Saint Lucia. In their determination to hide all traces of African blood, they wiped out large swaths of their history and denied the rest in order to pass, in order to be taken as white.
Can I pull it off. Who will care? Is it of any value?
Ann Patchett in her memoir, Truth & Beauty, about her friendship with the writer, Lucy Grealy, after waitressing all day, after being divorced, and living at home once again, reveals her own doubts about writing:
I was starting to wonder if I was ready to a be a writer, not someone who won prizes, got published, and was given the time and space to work, but someone who wrote as a course of life. Maybe the salvation I would gain through work would only be emotional and intellectual. Wouldn’t that be enough, to be a waitress who found an hour or two hidden in every day to write? If Lucy was struggling to find her way under the burdens of surgery, surely I could find it in the comfort of my mother’s guest room. I made my resolve to work for the love of the work, to write for myself, but it didn’t have to last for long. She got a fellowship to the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown which gave her 7 months to write with some money and an apartment.
I’m hoping for this type of resolve as unlike Patchett, I won’t be rescued.