This blog (in its present form) began exactly one year ago, on April 9th, 2006. I can't believe that it lasted this long, or that it would be easier to write every day (except for the past two months which have been spent playing catch-up, and I'm not there yet) than I thought possible. But then over the past year the act of writing turned out to be something familiar and necessary to my existence. Writing used to be a chore, a torture, a reluctant exercise in putting down 2,000 words on fourteenth century Chinese painting or nineteenth century Russian literature. But all that is in some distant past, on one of the far shores of my life that I have left behind in order to cross to another one. This is something different.
I have always been a reader, shy and quiet and forever buried in some book, eyes fathomless behind thick glasses (now I wear contact lenses), lost in other worlds. It has been a constant in my life, the urge to turn to literature in order to make some sense of the universe. I have always been eager to throw myself into the river of someone else's words so that I might be mixed again (to paraphrase Ungaretti) and come to know myself. For Ungaretti it was the Seine in which he came to know himself; for me it is literature itself.
For a while that desire to read went away; I felt something in me crack and break apart, went for a year or more without reading anything new or interesting. It was though I was sleepwalking through my life. Certainly I wasn't writing, only lurking about on internet message boards and mocking celebrities and their lives. And then I turned twenty-five. (I've told this story before). I discovered Bukowski, which lead to other writers, which lead to others still. Those parts of my mind which had split apart began to knit themselves back together; it was time to start writing, but I didn't know where to began. So I turned back to the constant things in my life - food, and books. The desire to write fed my desire to cook and eat and read, which in turn fed my writing, a perfect, complete circle turning back on itself again and again.
I like to think of all the writers I loved most Bulgakov made me, made me understand that I needed words, needed literature as a flame needs oxygen to burn. Then the flame began to die, exhausted and smothered with - what? Fear, perhaps. It was Bukowski that saved me, lifted whatever it was that threatened to extinguish the part of me that needed to read. When I began to read again, for the pleasure of it, for the need of it, it gave me the courage to write, to cast my words out. It doesn't matter if anyone else reads them but me, it doesn't matter if it is good or bad, it only matters that I write. I can't believe a year has slipped by already, a year of posts about everything and anything that crosses my mind (in terms of literature and food, to stay on topic, of course), past and future and present all intertwining in the complete whole that is my life.
I can't wait to see what the next year brings.