Je n’ai fait celle-ci plus longue que parce que je n’ai pas eu le loisir de la faire plus courte.
I have made this letter longer than usual because I lack the time to make it shorter.
I have spent the summer and fall guiltily pretending to ignore the dozen or so started, but unpublished, entries here each time I log into Google. And I realize now that the reason the words remain unspoken is because brevity – inherent in the blog medium – is simply not among my repertoire of writerly skills. Never has been. Asked to write a “short-short” story for a fiction workshop a million years ago at Pima Community College in Tucson, I turned in a final piece that was barely contained in six pages. Like French philosopher Pascal, I lack the time – and also the mental processes – to write things short. My brain feels compelled to meditate, at length, wander, meander, until I’ve said everything I wanted to say. Everything. The idea of writing a piece that is under ten pages is largely inconceivable.
Funny thing is that I am a bit obsessed lately with flash nonfiction and would like to try it. At last summer’s Chatham residency, after Lori Jakiela’s wonderful reading, I told her: “I’m so jealous. I wish I could write ‘funny.'” She replied (as closely as I can remember, anyway), “And I can’t write ‘pretty.'” A lovely compliment, and although I truly believe one is either funny or not – and can’t learn to “write funny” – perhaps I can also learn to write ‘short.’ Because I also now realize that I must teach myself how to do this. Must learn to contain and condense and distill the ideas and thoughts. Or I just might never write anything ever again. Least until The Girls go off to college.