Originally, I was supposed to treat you to a long, lovely, narrative post about buying jewish books in a town that has a very small Jewish community (like, we don’t have a synagogue or anything, nor am I aware of any Jewish organizations, meeting places, etc., –– though we do have an old cemetery, somehow). Unfortunately, it’s not ready yet. Part of the problem is timing, but a larger part of the problem is doing justice, writing accurate portrayals, and being both truthful and fair and sufficiently empathetic. So I’m going to sit on it until I can do it right. In doing this, though, I’m reminded of this time I was in Billings, MT, when this guy told me, “You wrote about real people? No, don’t fucking do that. Stick to novels… make stuff up. Don’t write about real people. Why would you do that?”
Admittedly, I turned around and wrote about him a few days later.
I have a lot of mixed feelings about “real life” in narrative, and real life so far as it relates to this here blogger-thinger. I got super burnt out on reading memoir in college, and I’ve always sort of been suspicious of the “autofiction” thing, even though a few of my favorite books I read in the last year would be considered as such. At the same time, though, I love travel writing, and had so much fun with The Great Railway Bazaar, and travel writing is more or less what I did on my last bloggy-project-thing. I like that kind of storytelling, even though, as one article I can not for the life of me find right now put it, there’s a certain weirdness to travel writing that purports to explore foreign cultures through a very personal, home-culturally-lensed perspective.
It was less of a problem when I was writing Danny Takes A Trip, which was, explicitly, “personal.” I wrote P and Not-P so long ago, I don’t even really remember what it was I droned on about. I vaguely remember a post about a DITA thing I figured out. I looked back and saw that I did a lot more commenting on articles (like a more literary, less well-regarded Daring Fireball). This, I think, will include stories about the bike rides, of course, but I think I’m going to need to do a little more figuring out how I want to talk about the town and the people in it.
Like that article I can’t find that I mentioned above, when I look at Ashland, I don’t look at it through the lens of a local, but rather a weird, formerly-city-dwelling transplant who can still distinctly remember what it’s like to have stores open past 6 p.m. on a weekday (sorry: one small, friendly jab). I think there’ll be value in doing it, and to be real, it’s fascinating in a lot of ways, but I want to do a good job of it, and not piss anybody off (for more, see Chicago Farmer’s “Everybody in this Town” – not necessarily directly applicable, but I’ve been looking for a way to link to one of his tunes for a while now).
But am I making too big a deal of this? Almost certainly.
I suppose the point is that I’m still trying to figure out what the hell this one is supposed to be, what to do with it, etc. I hope I’ll not have lost too many of the five of you still reading this before I do, in fact, figure it out and get my shit together, but for now it’s Friday, I still have to go back to work (I tend to publish these over lunch), and so, “Fuck it, I’m gonna go ride my bike [unfortunately, back to work].”