“If nobody asked the question, what would the answer be.”
Blogging always asks a question without ever asking it directly — and often there is no answer to the question not asked. I look at the blogs, the many blogs at She Writes, every day so many blogs, beautiful, engaging blogs, and so often there is no answer. Nobody comments. Something happens to my heart when I see it, when I myself experience it, and then Gertrude comes to my mind. If nobody answered, what would the question be.
Year after year she wrote and got no answer from anybody. Until she was in her mid-thirties and Alice’s resounding YES was finally the first answer. A few outside answers trickled in, a few times she got published with the help of friends, but I still wonder how often she felt the way the same way she felt as a young writer who was depressed with “a very melancholy feeling”. The young writer who was “despairing” because the answer did not come.
Doesn’t it sound familiar? What is the answer? She even asked it in the last moment before separating from Alice for the cancer surgery she would not wake up from. What is the answer, she asked Alice. As Alice remained silent, she said, In that case, what is the question?
Being heard, being understood, being recognized, being appreciated, being seen, being loved, being admired, even being questioned — these are just some of the answers for which we write. And like Stein, we may not get many or any of them and yet, we go on. Just like Stein, with unflagging courage, often in solitude, we “write for ourselves and strangers.” Writing is a mystery. Stein is a mystery. It’s part of the “detective story” that has fascinated me for a long time.