I have come close to shutting down this blog. In fact, I have come close to giving up writing altogether.
During the winter of my first grade year, I started writing Sherlock Holmes stories (you don’t know about plagiarism when you’re 6) on big, connected sheets of computer paper that my dad would bring home from work. The kind with the alternating white and green lines. I think I also had a journal that year (never, ever has it been a diary), though the memory is a bit fuzzy on that. What a little girl would have to write about in a journal and what adventures I concocted for that eminent fictional hero, I don’t know, but I do know that I was immediately hooked. The way the pages rustled. The way the words looked. The way the pen felt in my hand.
The way I could say things that I otherwise couldn’t say.
There were times I flirted with the idea of being a teacher or a lawyer, but inevitably I would come back to writing. My by-line appeared in the school papers from age 10 through the college years. Short story assignments thrilled me. Essay contests were a great challenge. Even working on poetry, not my forte, was better than crunching numbers for some ridiculous math assignment.
Whenever someone asked me what I wanted to do with my life, I would confidently reply, “I want to be writer.”
Perhaps you remember that I decided one of my goals for this year would be to finish a project (i.e. a book)? It’s not happening. I had an idea. I plugged away at it for awhile. And then..I didn’t like it anymore. It sounded too much like someone else and nothing like me. So, I abandoned it. Well, not entirely. I thought I might approach it from a different angle. Haven’t started.
Today I wrote in my journal:
“What am I missing? I don’t want to be stuck. Yet…I am.”
That feeling of stuckness leaves me pondering some things. I have always connected writing to the conventional world of publishing, whether magazines, newspapers or print books. You let your soul bleed onto the page and, if someone decides it’s worthwhile, they take it and put it in a pretty package and you get some money. Then you start the process again. Hopefully, you’re successful enough to make a living at it, without pandering to the whims of publishers or the fickle hearts of the public.
But what if this gift, this call, is meant to be used differently? What if the blogging and the emails and the sending of birthday/sympathy/whatever cards is just as impactful as a book?
What of all the talented people out there who never do see their names emblazoned on the front of a paperback? I wouldn’t tell a single one of them to give up their dreams. With all my heart I believe that their messages are important, their voices meaningful. They must find a way of expression, even that expression is confined to the smallest of audiences.
And what of writing for the pure enjoyment of it? There is a great richness to be discovered on that blank page! Must it be all about getting the money that doesn’t really provide the security? Must it be about gaining notoriety? I can at least be honest about that; I would LOVE for a reviewer to give me glowing praise! But…how long would the effect last? I know myself. Not long.
I have been approaching the art of writing as a way to make my mark on the world. And that approach has become a paralytic. It has to be perfect, it has to be totally unique, it has to be the BEST. If it isn’t any of these things, then it isn’t worth it. And if it isn’t worth it, then why do it? But who decides what is and what isn’t “worth it?”
Forgive this rambling musing, dear reader. There is something here that I am wrestling with, and I suspect that I am not the only one.