Mario Villalobos

Main Course

I have to write. I’m paraphrasing here, but I watched this talk today with Zadie Smith, and she said there are two types of writers: there’s the writer who writes from all the stuff she’s read, and a writer who writes from experience. She said she’s a writer who writes because she reads a lot. I’m a writer who writes from experience. I don’t read that much. She quoted Nabokov or somebody who said all writers are influenced by the stuff they read when they were between the ages of seven to eleven or seven to fourteen, or something like that. I barely read at that time. I don’t know what I did. Played video games, I guess. I did most of my reading in my mid twenties when I lived with my mom with no job and nothing to do. I love reading, but it’s not one of those things I grew up with like some of these other writers. I write because I have to. I have to get it out, whatever it is. I don’t care about what’s been written before, what’s been said before, because who cares? I don’t know. I write because I have to. That’s all there is to it for me.

One of the biggest reasons why I want to close down my blog is because of how lasting and public it is. These aren’t essays. I’m not spending days and weeks on my words for each entry. I’m writing this entry half-drunk on Pinot Noir while lying down in bed with my head barely lifted up by my pillows to see the screen. It’s hot and I’m in my underwear and I would rather sleep or watch more TV than write right now, and I know that ambivalence shows through. I’m not respecting my readers, and I’m not respecting my craft by doing this. I’m doing it because I need to check it off from my todo list. Instead of promising to write something on a daily basis for a full year, I should focus on quality over quantity next time. Even something like an essay a month seems much more doable, even if I write each entry on the second to last day of the month. It’ll be a burden twelve times out of the year other than a daily thing for a full year.

Zadie Smith also said that it’s good, even essential, to take months, even a year, off from your novel if you can. She said she wishes she could be able to do that with her stuff. I don’t know if I want to take a year off from it, but I have taken a few weeks off from it, and I feel good. It’s not the end of the world. I do like thinking about starting some short stories, but I like thinking about it more than actually doing it. At least I’m still writing these entries, right? These entries are like appetizers before the main course if I dreaded the main course.