True story: I am here because of you. Really, I am. Though, I didn’t know this until just now. See, before you I wrote to keep myself company. Yep, before you I was the sole inhabitant of a lonely little town called My Head in the center of a big, lonely state called New York. Population: one. Dusty place.
I am here because isolation is a robbery. Though, as I said, I didn’t know this until just now. Just this moment. Isolation, it turns out, kills inspiration. Isolation breeds narcissism. Isolation promotes solipsism. And, who was it? What great representative of our (okay, my) shifty generation? Who was it that said, “Isms, in my opinion, are not good?” Ah, ‘twas Buller. Ferris Bueller.
I know, I know, Rilke balks (in the ground). He was a big fan of solitude. And hey, solitude, in measured doses ain’t a bad thing. But language is not enough. People are what matter. And I’m not talking workshop, folks. I’m talking readership. I’m talking conversation. Wait, can one “talk conversation?” No matter, you’ll tell me. That’s why I’m here, remember?
Back to readership for a moment. Did you have one before you got here? Did you know who you were writing for (Say you were writing for you. Say it!)? Here’s the deal: We don’t create in a vacuum. Is that an original idea? No matter, you’ll tell me. That’s why I’m here, remember? If I’m honest, my only reader was my sister. Because she always cried at the end. Because she always knew who the characters really were. Because she was there on the other side of the Gchat box.
But there’s more to writing than one reader and one writer. There’s a community out there, to which we now belong. And some of us (okay, me) have never belonged to a community before. And, what’s more? We have a title! We are writers. I am here because here, that’s a real thing.
I am writing my final, final, final paper today. This will be, quite literally, all she wrote. In it I quote from Jhumpa Lahiri’s excellent essay, “Trading Stories,” in which she observes, “Being a writer means making the leap from listening to saying, “Listen to me.”” I am here because I am finally making that leap—have made that leap. I am here because of you. And without you, I am not here.
If being a writer means saying, “Listen to me,” then being a reader means saying, “I am listening.” I am doing both, simultaneously. And I always will be. In return for your ear, dear reader, I lend you mine. I can’t wait to hear what you have to say. So, farewell for a while. Because we are a community, we can meet on the page. And if we haven’t met, we surely will.
Thank you, from deep down below, for everything. There is no real language for gratitude except what comes from the flick of a pen.