the other night i was at my sister’s house for her birthday. she had a few friends over for (lopsided but delicious) cake and (always delicious) wine. a few people asked me about my trip and my writing. i told them that while i don’t have a specific plan in mind for the writing itself, i’m not too worried about it. i tend to write a lot more when i’m somewhere new and a lot of things are happening to me.
“what if nothing happens to you?” someone said.
i smiled. “that’s one of the things i worry about.”
while it seems entirely unlikely that nothing will happen to me on a two-month roadtrip, what if nothing does happen to me? what if the trip turns out to be a tour of all the grass around the country on which the dog can pee? what if i see mount rushmore and it looks exactly like it does on television?
in theory i could make things happen to me, couldn’t i? i could meet a bunch of strangers. i could go to places i never thought i’d visit. i could meet a bunch of strangers and let them take me to the places i never thought i’d visit. no. there’s a not-very-fine line between making things happen and jeopardizing my personal safety. the latter, of course, isn’t necessary to achieve the former.
i think a lot about how much different writing a book will be than writing on the web. outside of the fact that i enjoy writing in general, i’m often motivated to post here for the sake of posting. sometimes i write just because a few days have gone by since my last post and i feel like i should say something to break the silence. sometimes i write because i like the instant gratification of writing something people can read right away. with those two factors absent, will i still be able to do it?
writing offline will have its advantages, though. for every single thing i write about on this site, there are ten things i don’t write about, because of the people who read it. i keep quiet about these things because i don’t want people to take them the wrong way, or because i just don’t want them to know at all. perhaps the very large window of time between when i write something and when it [might] be published will allow me to be more candid. in theory, i can write frankly about X event because it’ll all have blown over by the time anyone reads it. in theory.
this topic makes me think about david sedaris. how does he decide what to write about and what to keep quiet? does he write about his family because they’ll always be his family no matter what he says about them? does he write about acquaintances because it won’t be a huge loss if they never talk to him again?
which makes it sound like i plan to write horrible things about everyone i know. this is not the case. but regardless of my intentions, writing on this website hasn’t been without personal ramifications. i can think of at least five things i’ve written in the past seven years that have upset my family, friends, or boyfriends. there are probably others who didn’t like something i wrote but never said anything to me about it. so far it’s still been worth it, but i worry that someday i’ll write something that will make important people in my life decide they never want to talk to me again.
when my sister’s friend left her house, he shook my hand and said, “it was nice to meet you. i hope something happens to you.”
so do i.