Ramona Ausubel is the author of the novel No One is Here Except All of Us, published by Riverhead Books. She will be blogging here all week for Jewish Book Council and MyJewishLearning and is JBC’s May Twitter Book Club selection.
Maybe there are four or five people on earth for whom writing is effortless and never heartbreaking. I don’t know those people, and I’m not sure I’d like them if we met. Writers are professional feelers — our hearts should be tender and sore at the end of the day, right?
Still, sometimes it feels as if any other vocation would be easier. I could have studied fresh-water algae, been a long-distance runner, a baby-seal feeder. But that’s exactly the thing that bring me back: writing allows me to live a hundred other lives besides my own. When I was in high school I thought I wanted to be an actress, but there was one small issue — I was shy and not interested in performing. It turned out I wanted the other job where you get to imagine your way into the heads and hearts of other people, feel the world in a new way every time you sit down to work.
Most of the day, we all tend to the usual things. We pay the gas bill, find a parking place, buy cereal, apples, chicken breasts, remember to call our mothers, take the children to the doctor, sort the stack of mail. We do what needs doing. Meanwhile, we lose friends, fall in love with people, teach our babies to talk, help our parents leave the world. Being alive is so gorgeous, so hard, so everything. Writing — and reading — is the place where I get to try to understand some of the ten zillion strange, beautiful, terrible truths. For me, it is the second half of being alive.
Ramona Ausubel grew up in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She is the author of the novel No One is Here Except All of Us with the collection of short stories A Guide to Being Born to follow. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, One Story, the Green Mountains Review, pax americana, The Orange Coast Review, Slice and collected in The Best American Fantasy and online in The Paris Review.