Saturday, October 18, 2008

on writing

"Many things I would not care to tell any individual man I tell to the public, and for knowledge of my most secret thoughts, I refer my most loyal friends to a bookseller's stall." ~Montaigne

I love it when friends suggest books for me to read. standing in the library, overwhelmed by the thousands and thousands of books that may or may not hold my interest, I ache for referrals. anything to avoid the terrible disappointment of beginning a book with great enthusiasm, feeling that slowly wane, as I turn each page hoping the next will somehow reignite my passion, knowing deep down that it won't, and finally resigning myself to closing the book permanently and having to go find another.
so when a book comes to me recommended by someone who knows me, I am always eager to begin. sometimes I am surprised, most often pleasantly so, as these books are often finds that I would not have bumped into on my own.
the quote above fell into my life thanks to connie r., who told me about a book called Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life. which I am currently reading. which is quite entertaining and quite different than what I expected. and my point in telling this whole long story, is just that I never know where inspiration or insight will come from.
(yes, I know I just ended a sentence with a preposition. written language has relaxed its rigid rules over the past decades, and it is now much more acceptable to screw up the rules on a regular basis. thus I split infinitives like crazy and end sentences with prepositions quite frequently. thanks and apologies to mr. harris, 5th grade, who taught me better. my saving grace is that I am fairly good at not dangling my participles.)
back to montaigne. if he were alive today, he might be mortified to know that his writing style was the beginning of a form that has dribbled its way down through the centuries and led to the kind of writing I enjoy and throw out here on this site: the personal essay. he is considered to be a master of the form, which has been described as "an attempt to examine the world through the lens of the only thing he can depend on implicitly — his own judgment." ah! you can see why I'm attracted to his style. apparently his signature phrase was, "que sais je" which translates to "what do I know?"
I often feel very montaigne-y.

and what does this have to do with cycling?
not much.

what does this have to do with my web log?
just about everything.

when I write, I share a very deep slice of who I am. I explore, I ponder, I sometimes pontificate. I search my soul, I reveal my thoughts and dreams and thought processes. I question, I state, I am giddy, I am weighty, I am laborious. I am more real here than I often am in person.
and that is why the quote I shared above struck such a chord with me. (a big, dramatic, old-radio-drama kind of chord.) it's not that I'm incapable of verbalizing thoughts, it's just that they seem to come out so much better on paper. or on the computer screen, to be more accurate.

yesterday's ride was a great one: I rode with bill, and we went up city creek canyon, then up east canyon boulevard and up to an overlook of the valley. the weather was absolutely perfect, and I delighted in the snow and ice at the top of the grotto in the canyon. and I thought about many things during the ride, and I absorbed many more. my cycling life provides excellent fodder for my writing life, for which I am grateful. it exposes me to new experiences, which reinforces my belief that I, too, should adopt montaigne's personal statement,
Que sais je?

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