ES: Has your diary always existed as something you, perhaps secretly, thought would be public?
SM: No, no, no. It’s not public. It’s more of a workbook. I definitely have used it or referred to it in order to find a rough version of something that might belong to a published piece of writing. But it’s not something that will be published as a document in itself. I should probably admit that this book about my diary is finished, and it’s coming out in the next year or two. It’s a very short book. But the project that I then immediately started — and I’m sure it’s going to come to nothing enjoyable — is actually reading the diary year by year, backwards. I started working backwards from 2013, and I got back to 2007 and I had to stop because I was just such an utterly detestable person in 2007. I just hated this person who was writing. I had the idea of this project, like: these are the best sentences I wrote in my diary in the last 22 years. And I got some good ones but honestly it’s become very, very tough going. There was a point at which I was looking through my diary as I was writing The Two Kinds of Decay, looking for factoids about my illness that I could then perhaps make into something larger that would add to the coherence and completeness of The Two Kinds of Decay. While I was doing that I realized that almost nothing had happened to me in 1996 and I threw that year away. Which seems insane, but it seemed very sane in the moment. Right now I’m feeling that way about 2007, so I think that’s probably an indication that I should stop work on this project, at least temporarily.
ES: What was so bad about 2007?
SM: I just spent a lot of time that year writing about trivialities. I guess I just felt disappointed that I was so completely distracted by trivialities when I should have been — well, every sentence that starts in that way is necessarily silly.