On Sunday, I started reading David Foster Wallace’s essay collection, Both Flesh and Not, with the 24-Hour Bookclub. I had never read his work before, so I had no idea what to expect. I just downloaded the Kindle book and started right in.
After ploughing my way through a couple of essays about tennis, an assessment of the American literary scene of 1987, and a very philosophical review of a very philosophical book based on another philosophical book, I had to stop and wikipedia the guy. I felt as if I were rummaging around in his attic, catching glimpses of a delightful, albeit disparate, collection of his Most Favorite Things.
I wanted to go back and rename all of the essays. Chapter 1: “My All-Time Favorite Tennis Moment.” Chapter 2: “My Most Favorite and Least Favorite Things About Writers These Days.” Chapter 3: “My Favorite Book of the Year.” You get the idea.
If I could find one thing in common among the various components of the collection, it was that David Foster Wallace loved all of these things. My favorite essays were the tennis essays. I highlighted the heck out of them over on Readmill, if you’d like to see.
Here’s one of my favorite lines:
And another gem, also from one of the tennis essays:
Although I don’t know a thing about tennis (and can’t say I’ve ever seen an entire match), I came away from these pieces floating and teary-eyed and practically signed up for tennis lessons.
But after my superficial tennis love wore off, I wondered why these essays worked so well, while the others seemed praiseworthy but less compelling alongside them. In every case, I was relatively ignorant about the subject matter, perhaps even more so for tennis than for the others. And although each essay was rooted in love, it seemed that for tennis, all other concerns and pretentions melted away. What was left was uninhibited passion and masterful storytelling.
I started blogging in earnest one summer after a trip to San Francisco to visit my friend Diana. I had told her I was considering it but had no idea what to write about. All of those “How to Blog” blog posts I’d been reading told me I needed an angle, a common thread, a topic, a niche. But Diana told me, simply, “Just write about things you like. The common thread is you.”
That was all I needed to hit the ground running. And I think, for the most part, I’ve been able to do just that—writing about things I like and enjoying myself thoroughly in the process—here in this lovely space.
Sometimes, though, it’s easy to lose sight of love as the driving force behind writing and sharing that writing. This is especially true when I get caught up in reading blog posts about how to blog (I know! Why do I keep reading those?!? The titles are just so catchy!) and start worrying that I need to write about Very Important Things or keep up with trends or package everything I like into a neat little package of things-that-go-together.
In fact, the things I love do not necessarily match one another, and they are mostly not so new and trendy. The things I love are sometimes a little random and often a little old school. So this is just a little reminder to myself and to you that the focus of this blog, for 2013 and forever after, is to simply share with you my favorite things.
January 9, 2013 /