When Kevin Smokler’s book Bookmark Now: Writing in Unreaderly Times came out, it had a joint essay by two of our dear friends, Nicola Griffith and Kelley Eskridge. They are both writers and have been a couple for 17 years. I am beamingly proud to have been their friend for 13 of those years. That perhaps betrays a certain lack of judgment on their part, but everyone has their flaws.
Their essay, “As We Mean to Go On”, is now available online. I rave and rave about both of their fiction, as you can find in the history of this weblog. I actually love the writing of Kelley in this essay. Her prose style is beautiful and often borders on poetry, but it is not necessarily direct. That’s why I was tickled to find such in-your-face bits as this:
And there’s the occasional truly nasty questioner who can’t quite hide the hope that writing and love are two horses fighting in harness, pulling in opposite directions, that our work is the slow bullet in the brain of our relationship. Don’t you ever worry that she’ll be more successful? I mean… Yes, sunshine, we know what you mean. Fuck you.
At our ages, sometimes you have to let out your inner angry 17 year old punk in black boots to stomp some shit. I highly recommend this essay as a great look into the creative process and in doing work informed by your moral values. She also touches right in the same vein I’ve been talking about in the context of podcasting:
[A]s much as I want to be a rock star, I’m resisting the impulse toward the Cult of Me. My connections with readers are about the work: how it is to read, to write, to become part of each other’s story for a little while.
Later on, Nicola brings it home with this insight:
Here’s another paradox: I believe firmly that it’s a mistake for a reader to assume she knows the details of a writer’s life from reading her work, but I also believe that if you have read all of my novels you have an essential grasp of how I regard the world. The details are fictional, but the essence shines through. I can’t hide it: most of me doesn’t want to. Trying to hide is probably the major contributing factor to bad fiction.
Please do read the whole essay, and if you find it valuable or touching or meaningful, you’ll surely like any of the novels either of them have written. They are all fabulous.