Friday, October 26, 2007


WHEN I LOVE TO TALK ABOUT WRITING: At the bar, over coffee, standing in the kitchen during the party, walking the dog, driving toward the coast, in a classroom, on the phone while I sweep, when I really should be writing, popping cheese cubes and drinking wine out of a plastic cup. For starters.

WHEN I DO NOT LOVE TO TALK ABOUT WRITING: Sitting barefoot in a gown on that cold vinyl padded bench/bed thing, all my clothes draped on the chair, in a tiny clinic room with stark white walls, fluorescent light buzzing overhead, a basket-weave pattern in the beige carpet that ripples when I stare at it, and the doctor is holding a clipboard to which she is paying no attention, pen slack in her hand, and talking about how she wants to "get more of [her] stories out there" and wishes she had more time to work on the novel she's been writing for ten years, she doesn't have enough time to write as much as she wants, she wishes she'd planned sooner for early retirement, she hadn't expected that she would be opening a private practice but here she is, sigh, and where did I go to grad school, and she wishes she had gotten an MFA but she was studying hematology at the time--and I, captive and courteous, must play the part of Sympathetic Ear, murmuring terse words of encouragement, while I shiver under the thin gown and wonder if my mounting flight urge is jacking my heart rate.

I am so glad that doctors and therapists and other people who fix us have artistic and writerly aspirations. But when I go to them to get care, when I'm physically and/or emotionally naked and I'm alone in a room with them, I really just need the part of them that is a doctor.

Look, I want to say, You're OK. We are all anxious about writing. You will never feel you have written enough. Now please pick up the stethoscope, stop talking, and listen.

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