I’ve been a blogger for a few months now.
I love it.
Of course, I’ve gotten sidetracked, as usual. I am the Queen of Digression. I’ve not gotten too far with one of the projects for which I originally started this blog, which was for pieces I did for Open, Sesame, a website and learning program for Goddess and Earth-based spirituality. But I’ve started on it, and I can’t do it all at once, even if I wanted to, which I don’t, so it’s all good. I’ve finished The Sun, and Quartz is about ready, so you’ll start seeing some things on the Big Rocks (our solar system) and Small Rocks (just rocks) pages pretty soon.
Decades ago when I was a senior in high school, a creative writing teacher gave me an F on a short story because she just didn’t like it. I protested to the school counselor, an awesome guy who had always had my rebellious, misfit little back, who got my back again and pleaded my case with the teacher. Just because you don’t like the story doesn’t mean it’s not well-written, he argued. The teacher grudgingly gave me the A the counselor insisted I deserved, probably to shut us both up. I accepted my A and promptly dropped the class, which gave me an extra hour or two every day to smoke dope and sleep and hang out with my equally delinquent boyfriend, so I considered it a good trade. For years after that I entertained fantasies of mailing that teacher an autographed copy of my Pulitzer Prize-winning book, but I didn’t write much. I made the mistake of letting one person’s opinion matter.
A few years after that a different writing teacher who was a pleasure to learn from told me that if you want to be a writer, just be one. Just write. That’s what writers do. Of course being a professional writer is a whole nother story; it’s tough to find people who want to give you money for what you write. But if you don’t sweat that part, if you want to be a writer, then just be one already. It only took me, oh, 25 years to take that piece of advice. I made the mistake of waiting to be perfect.
I had read interviews with successful authors who laughed about their large collections of rejection notices. I decided that no proper writer didn’t have such a collection, and proceeded to start a collection of my own. I also read that many of them drank rather a lot (you’re my hero, Papa Hemingway), and accordingly started drinking when I wrote. But wine didn’t help* and I let the rejection slips get to me. I made the mistake of believing those rejections meant I wrote badly.
Then one of my husbands (it’s not like I collect them, there have only been three, and I can’t believe I just said that) read what I had asked him not to, part of a short story collection I was working on. He saw a romantic scene I had written and jumped to the conclusion that I was having an affair. That led to a nuclear fight that very nearly ended the marriage right then. With the exception of academic or technical pieces written for school or work, for the next 25 years I refused to show a word of what I wrote to anyone. I made the mistake of letting myself be stifled.
Time goes by. You learn a thing or two about how life works, and get the first glimmering that you still know nothing. You get more comfortable with yourself, and you stop giving a rat’s fanny what other people think, and you realize that, generally speaking, you can do anything you want to if you’re willing to just do it. I also learned that can be the hard part.
Now I’m letting myself be imperfect. I don’t care about collections, I don’t care about F’s and I don’t care if you like me. I mean, I would like it if you like me, but it’s not the end of my world if you don’t. I’ve unstifled myself.
For the first time since I was a teenager, I carry a little notebook around with me again, to keep those sudden flashes from disappearing. If I’m ever hit by a bus, anyone who reads what’s scribbled in that notebook will think I escaped from the asylum.
I have discovered that it’s fun to write about whatever I want to write about and not about what I think might please other people, or at least not offend. I do want to entertain people, or make them think, but that’s not necessary. I might have a regular readership of 10 people, including my mom, and if it never grows, I’m cool with that. The important thing is that I’m writing. And as far as being nice goes, Anne LaMott put it succinctly: “If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”
I have discovered that making a conscious decision to write about life as I move through it invites me to see the world very differently from what I’m used to. It’s fun to rant about the peeves, but I’ve also been given a great many moments to pause when I see the beauty all around, for which I haven’t even found words yet. I suspect there may be no words, at least not that I’m capable of finding. I didn’t anticipate that and if that’s what writing does, I’m grateful. And while I make no claims to any skill as a photographer, I’ve discovered it’s fun to carry a camera to try to capture both the beauty and ugliness that move me as I go through my day. It’s intriguing how often I capture an image that just happens to go with something I’m writing. I love synchronicity.
I also see that I have a stride to hit that I haven’t yet. I’m pinballing around from one thing to another, looking for my voice. I’ve learned that voice is something no writer just has; it must be discovered and developed. I’m glad I’ve finally started on that.
I entered the text from this blog so far into the generator thingie at Wordle
, to see what kind of picture my words make:
I like it. I’m looking forward to seeing how it evolves and expands.
Thank you for being with me so far. I hope you’ll stay. I also hope you’ll let me know what you like on this site, so I can try to produce more of it.
*Except that a glass of Chilean red is helping right now. And I still have my collection of rejection notices to fall back on.