Saturday, June 02, 2012
Every morning, for I don't remember how many years now, I get the Writer's Almanac in my email inbox.
I don't always read them, sometimes I am just too busy, and other times I've stuck my straw into the eternal spring of hope again, sipping, sipping, and thought that some better, more relaxed time would arrive to me where I could open the little missal and read it in luxury – quietly, while drinking tea, retaining all there was to know, growing inspired by a line of the poem or the life noted within to go off and write my own ditty that would be published somewhere fabulous and – well, gosh, why not – picked up by the Writer's Almanac.
I keep these unread messages and do open some on occasion. But there are many I haven't gotten to. April 18, March 5 and May 2 of this year, for example, as well as a trove of other unreads that go back a ways: December 26, 2011 and October 13, 2011. And I know there are many many more. Maybe someday I will open December 1, 2010 and see whose birthday it was, learn something.
Reading the Writer's Almanac you get a sense of a life made tidy by an intern or two, reported in that plodding Midwestern voice of Garrison Keillor. No matter what cruelty, insanity or banality the author might have been subject to as a child or dished out as a young adult or witnessed in old age, everything sounds perfectly natural and under control. The years dodging alcoholic parents, the three arrests, the ultimate decision to become a chicken farmer, take up a mere line and a half. Facts are facts and life's most treacherous turnings are spun into now plain and logical-sounding phrases that begin with “so.”
So, he spent the next 17 years traveling in South America.
So, she quit school at age 9.
And, of course,
So, he decided to become a writer.
You have to appreciate a format in which writers are made to sound sane and whole, where all of the drama and heartbreak of life is woven into a synopsis one can chew like a sweet digestive all because it's someone's birthday. They were here once. Maybe they still are. They wrote a book. How much richer we all are for it.