It’s not that I haven’t been writing; it’s that I went anonymous. I needed to toy with unveiling more intimate thoughts and experiences in the blogosphere. I did, and that outlet is rewarding both emotionally and in my candid interaction with other bloggies.
Anonymity dissolves the fear of personal disclosure. It’s this reason that I admire memoirists who can so openly divulge not just their actions but their heart’s desires. Emily Gould is one such author.
Tonight I heard her read from her first book, “And The Heart Says Whatever” at the Barnes & Noble in Park Slope, Brooklyn. She read a chapter called Claudine about her childhood, on-again off-again, always-appreciative-for friend. She has an innate ability to build both a mental image and emotional awareness of a two-decade friendship in a matter of pages — and not just a generalized superficial overview. She has a deeply analytical understanding of the role Claudine and her played in each other lives, and manages to thoroughly depict this through snippets of their interaction. I was sitting on the edge of seat… I wanted to know what she learned next.
I’ve read a lot of memoirs, and something about her’s stands above most, if not all. It’s not that she has a stronger story or more exciting existence. Honestly, the tales she includes are pretty mundane — she works in a bar, transfer colleges, takes writing classes, gets a dog, goes to parties, breaks up, makes out and sleeps with men. Yet, each scenario is portrayed with an objective self-awareness. It’s a level of self-analysis that I strive to reach — it also left me feeling extremely naive of my own thoughts.
When I asked her about the in-depth descriptions that flood the book, she responded saying that she actually has a poor memory. I laughed. She had no idea how well I understood the irony of her response. I lack the ability to consciously pull up details and events on demand. But I maintain an unconscious recollection of the simplest most irrelevant details of my day-to-day existence that peak their head on their own terms. It’s all about how you remember… and for me, it’s all emotional.
I have to admit I was a bit starstruck. (Occurrence #2). And I was tickled at her initial nervousness. Having read a few book reviews criticizing her somewhat masochistic and dreary attitude — combined with my disgust for gossip websites — I was intrigued to get a glimpse of her real persona. She was bubbly, giddy, and genuinely touched to be there and have an audience anxious to hear her. It made me fall in love with her as a writer.
As I finished the book this morning I vowed to keep it close at hand. That way whenever I doubted my words — was there enough detail? did I make a point? is the lesson clear? — I can find inspiration. Reading can bring you places you would never dare go in reality, but finding a piece of work that was written from the same place, mentally and emotionally, that your own work comes from is like opening a birthday card full of money. You did nothing to earn the gift, but someone was nice enough to share it with you, and if you use it wisely it can really pay off!
(Apologies to Emily for the blog title, as she mentioned at the reading that the downfall of her book title — which she picked — was that it was easily mockable.)