It seems a fitting start to every year: an exposition on why this whole thing started. You know, it actually started a lot earlier than I’ve maybe let on.
When I was 11, I wrote a letter to Marguerite Henry – the author of the “Misty” pony series. It went something like this: “I love you, you are a great writer. I love horses, too. Do you think I’ll be able to write like you one day? I love you. P.S. I want a pony. Sincerely, Sarah.”
I was horse-crazy and book-crazy and one of four kids, so reading came cheaper than riding. I read (mostly books about horses) because I loved the escape words offered, their little size and mighty power. I loved reading something so rightly summed-up that I could leave a page and walk around with the sense that I had a tad more insight into the way the universe was always intended to work – as if someone had finally, correctly described what I had been feeling but couldn’t quite articulate. I wanted to do that for other people.
So after I read “Mustang,” I wrote Ms. Henry to thank her for penning something that helped me to see meaning and structure and beauty in the world in a way that, to use a tired cliché, changed my life. It’s the same reason I’m writing now. Not because Praying for Prada is ever gonna be War and Peace. But because I want to help point the way for other people – to set off that little hum of recognition in someone else’s heart that makes them laugh or think or cry or just live more fully because they feel as if someone, somewhere gets it enough to describe it well.
I wrote in college to get a journalism degree. I wrote in law school: dry, wordy briefs with lots of Latin and “hereinafters.” But it wasn’t enough. No one feels any kind of sweet fulfillment when they get to the plaintiff’s conclusionary paragraph in her motion for summary judgment. Instead, all the non-lawyers just pretty much want to hang you.
But that sick feeling of needing to write kept right on with its fingers around my throat, daring me to sit down and get to it already. So the blog was born.
It’s no secret that I’m insecure. I struggle daily with the notion of whether there’s enough horsepower in this machine to make something decent come out. There are times when I am witness to some haunting relational complexity, or something as simple as the bark on a tree, and I hear the words to describe it in my head. Sometimes, I think they could be lyrical or entertaining, and when I’m very lucky, even accurate. But these days, after years home with little children, I’m the one hanging my head at dinner parties because I hadn’t heard William F. Buckley had died, or skulking off to Wikipedia because I can’t seem to remember what in God’s name Robert Stone ever wrote or what desiccated means.
But I’m still writing. The fact that it is about fashion is secondary. The writing itself, is primary.