Wednesday, March 5, 2014


I have a theory when it comes to email replies.  The longer a person takes to respond, the longer that response should be.  For example, if someone sends me a message and I reply right away, I can get by with "Hey!" and maybe a line to follow.  Punctuation is optional.  However, if I am unable or unwilling to reply immediately, when I finally do send a message back (maybe a couple of days later), I have to write more.  I have to write a paragraph.  I have to include some context and, of course, proper punctuation.

And then there's the long lost email.  I don't reply the day I receive it, so "Hey!" is inappropriate.  I don't reply the next day, or the next week, so a paragraph is inadequate.  I don't reply within a month, or two months, so the context has changed so completely that I don't even know where to begin.

But really, once enough time has passed without replying to an email, it's ok to start from scratch, isn't it?  To send a new email of your own: "Hey!" Write a line, or write two?  Write a paragraph?

So it's been with Perfect Sand.   I would hear something on NPR and think, "Ooh, I should write about this, connecting it to [fill in the blank with some experience in my life]," but then I remembered that I'm out of practice.  That so much time has passed.  That I'm not ready to write again.

I've been listening to Ann Patchett's collection of essays, "This is the Story of a Happy Marriage," relishing her true stories of becoming a writer, of falling in and out of love, of taking care of her grandmother.  She is a successful novelist, but has contributed dozens of essays over the years to various magazines.  At one point she says that writing fiction, for her, is much harder than writing nonfiction; it requires a great deal of discipline and frustration for her to start and complete a novel. And she won't start a new one until her current one is finished.

Rather than be jealous of her success and writing discipline, I'm posting something.  I'm replying to the email that I've ignored, and I'm going to pretend it's not awkward.  Hey, it's ok.