When I started posting an essay every day on December 4, 2017, I had so many ideas milling around in my head. They had been there for a long time, and when I conducted a mental inventory of them, I visualized a huge trunk full of treasure.
Back then, in those halcyon days of, well, last December, there were a myriad of choices.
I could write about Jimmy Nichol, who was a member of The Beatles for two weeks.
I could write about Ashrita Furman, who holds more Guinness world records than anyone else.
I could write about The Shaggs, an almost surrealistically bad girl group from the 1960s.
Now, however, I’ve written all of that. I’ve taken those items out of the trunk, and set them out into the world.
And now the trunk is pretty much empty.
Of course there are still a few things that I will write about in the future.
There’s that essay about The Mutter Museum in Philadelphia, which features an assortment of medical curiosities.
There’s also that essay about why I’m increasingly nervous about what will be in the food that I order, thanks to a new Trump initiative that may very well drastically decrease the money that wait staff keeps from tips.
There’s even the essay about the three parts to an apology, although that one, I’m afraid, will be a bit clinical.
There's the essay about the three things that make me happy, although again, that one may be clinical.
And there's the essay about the three values of things, but, once again, that one will be clinical.
So yes, I still have some ideas in the trunk. Still, though, that trunk is definitely emptying out. Very soon, I will have depleted those ideas.
And then the trunk will be empty.
At that point, I’ll have to spend a lot more time trying out assorted writing prompts, going for walks, playing my guitar, practicing card tricks, and just sitting around, staring into space. Ideas often come to me when I do these things.
Even then, though, there will be those days where the bin is empty.
So once again, if I’m going to document my writing journey, there will be many days that I write about emptiness. These will not be essays that I write so much for the reader as for myself. I want to keep to my pact to posting something every day, so there will be days where I write and post an essay…just to say that I wrote and posted something.
And I will probably write the following, many, many times: this is what writing is. And, I think, this is also what life is, many times.
When we read biographies of people, we get the highlights, and when we spend 20 or so hours reading a book, we’re only getting those hours of writing that produced the work we’re reading. We don’t get all those countless hours the writer spent staring into space, wondering if every idea had dried up, wondering if he or she would ever write again.
Well, I guess that’s the way it goes. As I will also say, many, many times: there will be good, solid essays about subjects other than having little to write about. Unfortunately, there will be many days that this old standby will be what I write about, and as I will also say many times, you don’t have to read this.
But I have to write it.