On my way to Seattle last weekend I stopped at the American Express lounge in the San Francisco airport. The place almost justifies that Platinum card fee – the food includes stuff like fresh farro and mint salad, Filipino pulled pork, free Prosecco – you get my drift.
On this visit, on beyond and better yet than the buffet, a reader recognized me and asked, “Do you write a blog?”
We talked only briefly, she had just finished a big event, and also I suspect wanted to be considerate of my time. But before we went to our separate tables she said something to me that I’ve been thinking about ever since.
“Thank you for your work.”
While I acknowledge that I work at this blog thing, and even that it fit the criteria for a job when I monetized, I had never thought of the posts here as “my work.” Work as a process, as labor, yes, but that it could collectively be seen as a creation hadn’t occurred to me. (I promise, I’m not looking for praise, you all are very supportive, I want for little.)
It’s just that blogs are so of the moment. They are built that way – you post into time, again and again. And because this particular blog has had several incarnations – from Hello World to High WASP deconstruction to Style and back to Hello World – the posts may lack the kind of theme I expect of a body of work. In any case, I have not made and may not ever make the leap to considering my blog posts an actual body of work. They feel like a journal. All well and good.
Do I have a body of work then? (And I ask you the same question. Do you feel you have “a body of work?” I don’t find myself so interesting that I self-scrutinize in public unless I hope the thoughts are useful.)
I am clear that I have worked hard, as my father once said in comforting me, “at any number of things.” I’m clear that I’ve had jobs – hey, it’s hard to ignore a group of people who expect you to show up and often expect you to point out which way to go.
My children were work, but they are not remotely my “work.” My garden is work, but the bones were laid by others, so it’s not really mine. Maybe I am writing this novel because it would in fact become my “work?” Perhaps we need a definition. I sure do.
A body of work has to endure, either concretely or in the imagination, as the creation of an identifiable hand or hands.
There is one possibility that fits this definition for me, and that’s the ways of the community here. Which might seem odd, but that’s what comes to mind. I envisioned and worked on the mores, if you will, the culture. I meant to foster some kind of openness to criticism, along with much civility as humanly possible.
However, my intention required your willingness. So maybe the culture of the comments is our body of work. See our hands. Small. But worthy. To endure, with any luck, as how we navigate all the other more important aspects of life. I know it endures for me and I thank you.
And since that culture also includes not taking ourselves too seriously, OK, fine, yes, I loved Markle’s outfit but I did not get up at 1am to watch the wedding. Hoping to find a replay, as I hear the homily and the choir were brilliant and I bet that veil is even better in the breeze.
Have a wonderful weekend, o my colleagues and my buddies.