Tuesday, August 27, 2013
But then there's that other percentage (you do the math). The percentage that renders me inadequate. The notes I simply do not know how to answer.
Those who know me know that I don't Google my own name, don't look for Beth news. For starters, the world is far too interesting for me to focus too intently on myself.
Nor do I look to my in-box for, well, anger or insistence or shame or work that I could never possibly do (should do). But there it is, waiting for me. Declarations about books I've written, or articles. (I would have preferred, you stopped halfway, why didn't you, are you really a writer? you're not a real writer.) Requests that I stop, right now, in the midst of whatever I'm doing, and read the hundreds of pages in the attached PDF (I'll need your blurb/your blog response/your action by tomorrow.) Insistence that I get involved in a particular dispute with publishers I don't know over a book I have not read in a genre (dystopian fantasy) that I'm definitely not known for. Four-page questionnaires (multiple multiple choices, with room for lengthy discursives) on topics I'm only vaguely proficient in. More manuscripts to read. Notes, that say, in so many words, It's time you blogged about me.
I have tried, in the past, to bring diplomacy and helpfulness to the letter writers. I have tried to see the world through their eyes, to do what can be done, to empathize, to acknowledge. I have remembered, always, that if we can do good in the world, we should do good in the world—appease, reach out, listen.
But it's the response to my responses that is forcing me to draw a new line. No need to detail those here. It's just: No more.
And also, as I said among friends last night, I have a trout to put into the oven (a house to care for, a son and husband I love, walks I need to take, books that I have chosen to read, my work, my students).
Bake the trout, burn the letters, Sister Kim said.
The trout, as it turned out, was delicious.