August 19, 2015

8/18/15 – Two Can Play That Game with Casey Rocheteau

Artist: Casey Rocheteau

Location: Le Petit Dejueuner, Midtown


CR & SRS – Coffee (cream & sugar, and black, respectively), scrambled eggs, maple bacon, sweet potato w/ chive sour cream, French toast

We didn’t order weirdly samesies breakfast; LPD does things family-style, so we ordered the “Two Can Play That Game” with four options, and breakfast negotiations were brief and successful. I recommend LPD as a great morning-after-first-sleepover location, to see if the person you just banged is a person with whom you can navigate the all-important sweet-versus-savory breakfast landscape. To be clear, Casey and I just had breakfast, did not bang first.

Maybe it’s just because I’m still processing having seen The End of the Tour recently, but I think there’s always a certain tension when writers get together. Maybe it’s because we are all a bunch of hyper self-conscious eggheads, or because a lot of us have egos that are both huge and extremely fragile (like phenomenally gorgeous stained glass windows that we carry everywhere and color our perceptions)–but sometimes talking to another writer triggers a gripping fear that there are somehow a finite number of words out there, and what if someone else is using them up faster and better than you, and you are left alone in a cold, uncaring world? I am just trying to keep it real here, because writers are ridiculous and it is good for my soul as a writer to remember that.

Anyway, it’s easy to feel that way around Casey, because the woman has got things going on. She just returned from her native homeland, where she did a residency bit in Cape Cod. She’s been appointed as the new Editor of the Dead Letter Office for the Offing, perhaps on the strength of this completely stellar piece she recently published there, “Unfinished Letters from the Most Popular Kid in the Psych Ward.” She is full bore assimilated to Detroit, and carving out a niche as everyone’s absolute favorite level-headed opinion…Casey has a gift of channeling justifiable rage into digestible statements. Thank goodness she’s here.

I think we were both a little fried, having met for this breakfast summit in the midst of a chaotic summer of travel and processing of the weird offers that start to crop up as you gain a higher profile as a writer. The question of who you work for becomes more and more important; what your opinion is worth, and the many, many questions of maintaining one’s integrity, while also eking out a livable existence. It must be nice for people who are unabashedly self-serving. I feel like they just don’t have to consider any of this stuff.

But something occurred to me this week, and it is this: how much I enjoy my work is the primary metric, in my mind, of whether it is something worth doing. I absolutely love my job of writing, these days. I think about how I wrote constantly in high school…why didn’t I just, y’know, continue to be a writer, all the way through? Why the dozens of stumbles down blind alleys, the foibles, the wasted efforts of my 20s? Then I realized, that’s the work of being a writer. You go do the stuff. You travel to every state in the country. You love, and get your heart utterly busted. You get sectioned. You survive, and your perspective survives with you, and then you know some stuff. Now you’re ready to write.

So for the young writers out there, a reminder to put a pin in the reflecting, and commence with the living. Get out there and start on the thousand mistakes or more that you need to notch up, in order to have some stories (and also, learn how to make better decisions). You really can’t make a breakfast without breaking some eggs. And don’t let jealousy interfere with relationships: remember, two can play at that game (more, actually).

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