“Another essay about that? Aren’t multiple articles and a novel enough, already?”
“All the ills in the world, and this is what you focus on?”
[Attempt to keep a straight face]
“You’re attacking a sacred tradition. And you’re making me feel very uncomfortable.”
“But it’s an AIDS cure! Don’t you realize that in Africa, men are lining up for this?”
[Attempt not to squirm]
“Lisa, you’re squandering your talents. Write Moby DICK instead! Get it?”
Ah, the occupational hazards of writing about circumcision.
If I could change the fact that I still find this topic so deeply compelling, I would. I’m a nice girl. I don’t relish conversations about the male anatomy. I don’t enjoy confrontation. I don’t like risking anger, irritation, ridicule, or condescending tolerance every time I explore another aspect of what friends call my “favorite subject.”
But I don’t seem to have much say in what interests me as a writer. It’s almost physical. The first clue I get that an idea is brewing is that my blood pressure goes up. I might be reading an article, and find myself thinking: Grrr, why doesn’t anyone ever point out the fact that…? And soon, my fingers start tingling with the desire to tap.
As J. D. Salinger said, the best way to write is to ask yourself what you’d most like to read. Then, he said, “You just sit down shamelessly and write the thing yourself.”
Even aside from circumcision, I’m drawn to provocative topics, and I feel driven to write mostly when there’s something that hasn’t been said. Though at times I’d like to weigh in on issues like foreign oil dependence, other writers are already doing that, and admirably.
So, given that writing is hard, and given that I’m fortunate enough to have the time to write freely, I go with what shouts at me. Change what shouts at me? I can’t, any more than a gay person can be straight.
Currently, I’m up to my eyeballs juggling a nonfiction book that shouts at me, a new novel that has reached up and grabbed me by the neck, and a few other irresistible projects. That’s why you haven’t heard from me in awhile.
Here’s my latest, published on the Huffington Post—
Comments on the post may drive its prominence upward, so if you feel so inclined, please do join the conversation.
Thank you all so much for your patience. I’ll keep in touch!
Lisa Braver Moss