I'm used to a process of exploration and vulnerabilty in writing, used to exploring delicate or tenaciously difficult things and sooner or later offering them publicly -- outloud, in an outfit, in front of people, or as a book, or part of a book, bound and finite, physically far from me. And, of course, I learned to type on a manual typewriter and still pull out spiral notebooks where the paper tears with ragged edges when I meet people to write in cafes. (Not that I do that a lot, but it's happened.) But starting this journal feels mysterious to me. I'm not sure about what distance to take with the things I write and the things I read in other people's journals.
I'm interested in writing about the process of publishing my next novel, which is coming out in May, because that makes its own story, and I love the worlds of books, as strange they sometimes become. I'm a poet and a novelist who has been thinking about essays lately, and doing more nonfiction than I ever have, so this seems like both a place to explore that more, without having to worry about anybody else's guidelines or expectations -- well, except, of course, I'm already worrying about it, as I try to figure out what the rules of discourse are around here -- or something like that.
And I'm interested in conversations about fat that open up in stunning, shocking, thrilling ways. In addition to all of the concrete spatial, sensual and political things fat is in my life and in the life of this culture, in my head, fat is a metaphor for sex and death and wildness in a way that makes me leap up and get out Flannery O'Connor when I try to write about it.
One thing Flannery said in her book of essays on writing, Mystery and Manners, was, "The Manicheans separated spirit and matter. To them all material things were evil. They sought pure spirit and tried to approach the infinite without any mediation of matter. This is also pretty much the modern spirit, and for the sensibility infected with it, fiction is hard if not impossible to write because fiction is so very much an incarnational art."
Incarnational means to put it in bodily form, to let feelings and the deepest mysteries expressed in ordinary human flesh, or in fiction, in descriptions of dirt or a can of soda or a hunchback leaning over the bell tower of a cathedral to spit on a crowd.
Another thing Flannery said was, "But there's a grain of stupidity that the writer of fiction can hardly do without, and this is the quality of having to stare of not getting the point at once."
I find that a comfort.