I think so often about what life would be like if I had been something else. What if I hadn’t dropped my art major in college to focus on English, and instead dropped English to focus on art?
Sitting on the counter last night and waiting for the water to boil for pasta, I sliced myself a chunk of stinky cheese that my friend and I snagged with a Groupon over the weekend. I am devoted to cheese. It may have to do with the fact that I grew up on a dairy farm. It may be a result of having traveled to other countries in the world that have a healthier relationship to cheese than Americans do. Either way, I am devoted to cheese. I could never be a vegan because of cheese, never mind the fact that I could never be a vegetarian because of bacon.
And this funny thought popped into my head,
Why not cheese?
Why not devote myself to cheese and forget about this whole writing business?
Cheese is simple. Food is simple. Cooking is a simple pleasure that fulfills a basic need. I’m a fairly good cook, so why not just do that? Why not just research and make and sell and eat cheese for the rest of my life? Add a little bread and wine and fruit and maybe some olives and I’m set.
There is cheese, and then there are words. Words, for all their necessity to life, are complicated. I do not write because I find words easy or because I understand them. And on days like today, I can’t find words to explain why I write at all.
So why writing?
I think about these things when caught in the throws of a particularly difficult piece of writing, or when the question confronts me again, where will you go next? or when I get the same compliment again that I’m a good writer, because just between you and me, that compliment is sometimes more of a blow than a boost to my ego.
And I think about that part in Blue Like Jazz when Miller talks about how people always assume that because writers can articulate thoughts and ideas better than other people, that this somehow means they have the answers to everything. It’s kind of an unfair assumption when you think about it. Writers, for all their words of wisdom, have a pretty good track record for insanity.
I always feel compelled to temper that praise with realism – or is it cynicism? But I don’t have it all figured out, I want to say.
And for this, I contemplate a career in cheese rather than writing. And then I go and write a blog post about it.