Do you ever wonder, staring out the window of the train, say, or of your house, or just out of your eyeballs at that oft-referenced and probably cliché but never-quite-wrong middle distance, when you’ve just finished reading something very good and you are full of it, of the story and the writing and the language and the quickness of it all, and of the writer and what must have been in her heart to write those things and write them that way and so well, and you are trying to hold on to that feeling because it is rare and good and you want to think of nothing else but how it is making you feel, how right and how true the writing was, how true the author is, or was, at least, in the moments she put those words together, and you’re so glad that this . . . thing, not just the one book and the one writer but all books and all writing and all the alchemy that every crackled between writer and reader and this entire notion of stories and storytelling, exists—I don’t like the word “grateful” because it makes me think of dancing skeletons and church basements and the vacuous potential of language, whose power I love like the big flowing rivers it reminds me of—and you’re glad that so many people are so good at it and that you can participate in it, and are, and are trying very hard to get better, and that someday, maybe even someday soon, you’ll be able to write something . . . not like the book you just finished or even as good, but nevertheless somehow commensurate, and you don’t want to move on from that feeling, either, because it too is rare in your perpetual doubt and longing and rejection of sentences past (not to mention the actual rejection), and you have nothing else to read anyway, whether literally, as when you’re on the train, or simply because in that time there is nothing else, not a sentence or a book or any experience you can imagine, that would live up to it—do you ever wonder what you would do if you didn’t write?

I suppose I’d watch a lot more TV and be miserable.

Or play video games, and feel only marginally better.

The house would be cleaner, probably, and I would work out more.

I’d definitely sleep more, and cook more elaborate meals more often instead of inhaling kale-and-beet burritos over the sink at midnight.

I could play the guitar again, or learn another instrument, or at least listen to music—actually, actively listen to it, like I used to—or practice my French.

Maybe I’d surf every day and be perfectly happy.

Who knows. It’s not something I think about all that much.


HEADER: detail from a French print of Pink Floyd’s Atom Heart


Writer, reader, runner, surfer. Buddhist, humanist, baker of bread.

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