I'm an essay junkie.
I know. It's not fashionable. The very word 'essay' conjures up high school nightmares for many people "Write 2000 words about ..."
For me, essays are an extension of my particular proclivity - letter writing. It's been my habit to have one person in my mind's eye when I write, and that is the person with whom I'm conversing, albeit a one-sided conversation unless the person replies to the letter. I like to write about a topic as though my friend and I are sitting in cozy chairs with a beverage of choice close to hand, exploring the merits and idiosyncrasies of an idea, perhaps even getting into a mild disagreement. (In younger days it would have easily slid into a heated argument but I find one of the advantages of getting older is the ability to let things slide ... most of the time.)
When asked who is a favourite author, the decision is much like being asked to pick a favourite child ... it depends on the moment! There are perennial must-have's and a slowly revolving cadre of Top 5's.
Funnily enough, two of my perennials are both named Anne - Anne Lamott and Anne Fadiman.
I've been on an Anne Fadiman kick these past few days as I recover from a day surgery (doing fine, thank you for asking. Just a little achy and hung-over from the anesthetic, but expect to be back to work on Tuesday).
Anne Fadiman is a champion of the Essay and an excellent writer who makes me weep to consider my meagre skills in comparison.
Anne Lamott introduced me to writing from life and instilled the habit of keeping index cards and pencils always at hand, to jot down those ideas and observations that can't be lost.
I look to both my Annes for guidance, for inspiration and for true enlightenment on the subject of writing. (Told you it was a crush.)
The problem is, reading these books creates an intense longing for physical companionship, the actual face-to-face conversations that far too often are limited to paper or a computer screen. To borrow from L.M. Montgomery, it begets a longing for 'kindred spirits.'
It also unfortunately points out my inherent laziness or as I prefer to think of it, lack of motivation. I have oodles of ideas, many index cards thrown in a box that has become a sort of treasure trove. Now I only need the oomph to do the writing.
In the meantime, while the skies drizzle and grizzle outside, I'm tucked inside keeping warm and dry, listening to Anne Fadiman talk to me about The Unfuzzy Lamb (about Charles Lamb, whom Anne has a monumental crush on!) and mail and coffee and all other manner of topics.
And maybe, in a hour or two when the rain clouds clear a bit, I'll go for a walk and let Anne get back to her writing.