I have an unusual combination of empathy and analytic skills that lets me help people troubleshoot their issues in ways that are meaningful for them. The psychologist F. C. Bartlett, whom Yagoda quotes without discussing his work, once conducted an experiment in which people were told fables into which illogical or non-sequitur elements had been introduced; when asked to repeat the tales, they omitted or smoothed over the anomalous bits.

Both Ongoingness and I Think You’re Totally Wrong represent efforts to reconcile the competing selves in every writer, however autobiographical her work is: the self that lives in the world—getting sick or getting pregnant or serving brunch—with the self that creates the world, or re-creates it with a purpose, reconstructing its vicissitudes in order to compose an emotional narrative or ask hard questions.

I’ve written and re-written my about page a number of times, but it never seems to really fit with what I want to do. As I sit down to answer your questions and write my about page all over again, I’m still finding it difficult to get my message across.