ES: I’ve read that now you’re working on a project drawn from your diary?
SM: Yeah. Talk about narcissism, right? This is my attempt, I think, to write the most narcissistic book ever. It’s a book about my diary.
ES: I’m fascinated by other people’s journals because I’ve never been particularly good at keeping one myself. What is yours like?
SM: Well, I’ve kept a daily journal for about 22 years and counting. I think it was more ruminative in the beginning and now it’s more of this artifact that I continue to add to, to convince myself that I’m sane and everything is okay. Generally what I write down now are things about raising my son, and I’ve always logged what I read and what I write. Which has sort of risen up as a real emotional necessity, especially since my kid appeared on the scene, and the time is so much more limited — at least in its length if not in its intensity. So it’s a document in which I kind of write about what I’m writing.
I don’t really write down all of the experiences that I have in a day, although if something remarkable happens I note it. It’s not really like Samuel Pepys’s diary, which is one of my, you know, whatever — it’s everybody’s favorite. If you’re talking about great diaries, of course that one always comes up. And the wonderful quality of his diary is that he writes about all of the snacks that he eats and all the ways that he has sex with his wife and all of the arguments he has and what he sees as he’s walking around London. It’s such a great document. Mine is absolutely not like that. I don’t use the pronoun “I,” so most sentences just start with a verb. I don’t know what that means, probably nothing.