Recently I’ve been too full of thoughts to blog. Each day I have at least five directions I want to go. I can’t decide; nothing at all is written.
Tonight I finished an essay anthology I bought when Borders was going under. I was sorry to complete it. At the end of each essay, I tried to make myself pause. I sat and thought. I paged back through to notice and re-notice things. Many of them made me want to write.
An essay, like a song, is magic. The words are more than words. They are image, memory, emotion. They are power. Something strange happens. The essay is personal, exposing an intimate slice of the author. Yet when I read it, I press the words into my own mold. They become unique to me. The essay is like an inkblot test. I peer into it and start to unlock my own emotions and memories.
The anthology, which was edited by a professor at my alma mater, included questions after each essay. They’re meant to help students analyze the style and techniques of each writer. But I can’t critique an essay that way after the first reading. My initial impressions are far more abstract. I finish with a “wow” or a “huh.” With an argument or a kinship or a sadness.
Writing is a source of free therapy for me. But sometimes it takes reading someone else’s therapy to discover that in me which I didn’t know was there.