Saturday, February 11, 2006

To Blog or Not to Blog or "I Blog, Therefore I Am"

I haven't been blogging lately because I've been writing my pantry book, among a few other assignments and general distractions. Right now I am holed up at an undisclosed but luxurious location near the Lahey Clinic where my husband has had his fifth surgery in nine months (three emergency up in New Hampshire; two planned here in Massachusetts). While he recovers for several days, I am only a mile away and brought my laptop and numerous research. It has been a productive mixture of caring for my husband as best I can while he is in the hospital and being completely selfish in indulging my down time in the hotel room. Here I have no meals to prepare, no children to interrupt me, and 300 count cotton sheets with a duvet (part of the hotel's new upscale campaign). There is even a hotel shuttle that will whisk me within a mile of here for any errand or need: as Lahey is having a lot of parking and construction issues, I am happy to rely on this service. Meanwhile, the Burlington Mall is a mile away and I discovered a Trader Joes tucked around another corner of the town, just off Route 128. I couldn't live here but I could certainly live in a hotel like this for a while--if I'd had half-a-brain when I left, I would have packed gym clothes and shoes as there is a great workout center here, too.

Because of the book and various other things I have often felt guilty about even thinking of blogging. On one hand it seems so silly and self-serving, on the other it is a purging and almost necessary. There is a certain level of self-awareness or perhaps consciousness that accompanies my blogging. I am happy to write here but I find, too, that perhaps too much of my writing energy has been spent in the blogs this year.

Tomorrow there is supposed to be a huge Northeaster, not one that will just impact New England but most of the upper east coast. I am looking forward to sitting in my hotel room, with my lap top, watching the flakes fall past my 8th floor window, and knowing my husband is recovering down the road and that my children are in good care with our friend Judy in New Hampshire. Sometimes we have to give ourselves permission to just do what we need to do. Too often, especially in certain partnerships or as parents, we put our own needs last, but only to our detriment.

I am in major write-zone now. The next six weeks will be especially so--besides, mud season in New Hampshire. What better time to be holed up with a project? I promise to write more about it in the coming months--a preview of pantries, so to speak. I have been reluctant to discuss pantries too much in this blog site until the book is written. Otherwise it seems a bit like taking the cake out of the oven before it is ready: it may look done but it is all gooey on the inside and is rather disappointing in the end. I grew up with a writer friend who never even discussed her books or the ideas behind them until they were published. It was intrusive to her to have a discourse about ideas that were not fully formed in her own mind. She said that while the book was a still a secret, it was still "hers" and then it became the world's. There is something to that sentiment, something quite confident and noble in the grand scheme.

This author would have never blogged--I don't even believe she kept a diary except when she started out writing. That, too, was an intrusion on a very private world not to mention a distraction from a disciplined writing life. This friend of mine did not have children--when you look at some of the greatest female writers to date, most do not have children or wrote from an older period in their lives. Let's see: Mary Shelley, George Eliot, the Bronte sisters, Virginia Woolf, Willa Cather, Emily Dickinson...just to name a few. I'm sure this is not the case today but I don't know enough about contemporary women writers to be certain. But I'm willing to wager that most either aren't yet married or don't yet have children or have had their children, and their marriages, and are into another phase of their lives.

There is a high degree of energy that accompanies parenting, coupling, and the day-to-day. Writing seems like frosting at times but yet for the writer, something that must be written. It is as necessary as the easel for a painter or instrument for the musician: a writer can't not write and if it comes out in a modern 'blog' or the occasional published work, or a hidden journal meant only for the author's eyes, or even a torn piece of paper with an elusive idea, it is the process of writing, not necessarily the conclusion, that drives us on.

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