Debut: What Am I Doing Here?

NotebooksLibrary

 

I keep hearing that blogs are dead, which means it’s the perfect time for me to start one. Here are a few reasons why:

  1. Knowing that this personal blog will exist on the bottom of the ocean floor in the murky depths of the internet where like 99 percent of blogs go to die – yeah, that is actually reassuring to me.
  2. OK that’s actually it. I don’t have “a few reasons,” just that one.

I’ve been a writer my entire life. I was published by my freshman year of college (in print! This was pre-internet – before the Earth cooled). Seeing my name on a byline for the first time was the biggest thrill of my life at that point – the adrenaline-hit of it was indescribable. It was really cool for a few years, and it increasingly inflated my ego, which is, in fact,  the opposite of “really cool.”

Ego-driven writing is garbage. I can smell it off the page, heck, even from my computer screen – the pretentiousness wafting up and into my nasal passages. It has its own unique and vile signature, like cat pee soaked on carpet.

I’ve written plenty of cat-pee-on-carpet pieces, and I’m not proud of them.

But when I was craving that sweet sweet hit of ego-adrenaline, I just kept trying harder and harder to write above my pay grade.*

[If you’ve ever forced your feet into tight shoes and then walked around for awhile, wincing in pain but trying to push through it and then later you have raw blisters so you throw those damn shoes away – well it was kind of like that.]

I spent a couple of years doing travel writing, which was every bit as wonderful as it sounds. But the cost – missing out on time with my young kids – was just too high. I “retired” from it with a full store of happy memories and no regrets.

Writing for my local newspaper was a lot of fun, and it forced me to go way outside of my writing-comfort-zone – I spent hours studying the AP Style Guide and keeping my personality at the door. This wasn’t easy for me, but I learned a lot and I’m grateful for the experience.

Later I stepped up and became the managing editor of said paper. It was the most challenging work I have ever done, bar none. I had to manage every single aspect of the weekly paper, including all of the other editors and the freelance correspondents – which was like herding cats.

I had to represent the paper in the community and force myself into putting on the mask of a social butterfly – this was torture for me, but the experience was invaluable.

I was easily working 70 hours a week at that point though, and I just don’t have the kind of A-Type personality and drive required for that. (I was smoking a pack of cigarettes a day and had a coffee maker on the file cabinet next to my desk during that era.)

I ran out of gas after a couple of years and retired from working outside the home. It’s just not for me.

*

By the time I resigned and was ensconced back into my comfort zone at home, the toll of that job hit me like a tsunami – my body essentially broke down – and that’s a story for another day.

After all of that, I was back to writing for myself again – and after the hundreds of news articles – this was like slipping into a warm bubble bath – soothing and comforting and just what the doctor ordered for my weary mind and soul.

I no longer knew where my writing belonged, though…and that struggle went on for quite some time…

*

At some point – and memory fails me on when this occurred, thankfully – I spent a month or two writing “web content” just to make some fun money.† But it wasn’t fun in any sense of the word. I like to try to forget about that.

That kind of “writing” made my soul kind of shrivel up. So I stopped writing for money, period. I just washed my hands of it, all of it. I felt burned out and honestly kind of dull-witted at that point.

I thought I didn’t love writing anymore, and since being a writer has been the one constant in my life since I was seven years old, it was devastating.

But eventually, it hit me that my love of writing was anything but dead. Sure, I wasn’t researching markets for submission, and I wasn’t purposefully opening up Word documents, clicking away with word-count goals and and brainstorming topics in a “look at me being a writer” kind of way, but I was writing everywhere else without even being fully conscious of it.

*

So here is what was happening during my “I guess I’m not really a writer” phase:

  • I had started pen-palling many years ago – yes, that is still very much a thing – and I wrote my pen pals regularly and often.
  • I joined Postcrossing Dot Com and wrote and mailed hundreds of postcards.
  • I was still journaling, like I have my whole life – but in almost everything but a formal journal.
  • I bought tons of notebooks, planners, memo books, stationery, colorful stock cards, Post-Its – and I wrote on and in them all the time.

I never threw any of this stuff away, thank God – and I faithfully kept a record of the letters and postcards I mailed and received throughout the years. And it turns out I have a metric ton of my writing that is gloriously free of “trying too hard.”

*

A few weeks ago I was attempting to declutter (using the guidelines of the latest organizing book I purchased – by this point, the Amazon Dot Com people are wondering why this crazy lady has purchased 57 of these kinds of books), and I made an interesting discovery:

An overwhelming amount of my writing, random thoughts and musings and ideas were recorded in cheap yellow spiral notebooks. My favorite colors are yellow, orange and red – so this makes sense. But still, it was kind of cool to discover this pattern.

I realized my best writing (the authentic me, not the “trying too hard to sound smart” me, which is insufferable and boring) was found in those notebooks.‡

And now I will do the Seinfeld Yadda Yadda Yadda here, because the timeline from the cartoon light bulb popping up over my head with the yellow spiral notebooks to diving back into writing purposely with a passion, and then creating this little blog here just for fun – well, it’s too boring to go into here.

*

The point is, I’m a writer. I was never not a writer. And being a writer means a lot of different things to different people. It has meant something different to me just in different seasons of my life.

For many reasons, I no longer have any interest in “making a living” from writing. I’ve been there, done that, bought the t-shirt, and got a horrible sunburn.

Any writing I do now is for the pure joy and exhilaration it brings me, period. If I think something I write might touch on some kind of greater, universal-type human feeling – then sure, I will send it out and submit it here and there. But not for money.

Yes, I’m very privileged that I can approach it this way, but I also worked very hard to get here.

*

At this stage of my life, I’m content just writing for the love of it, and not for money or clicks or bylines, so the glut of web content gives me deep cover down here on the bottom of the internet with the gazillions of other blogs, so I can just blather on and ramble and rant and tell the same stories over and over like that kooky old Aunt we all know and love.

This blog is my playground. If someone finds it by some miraculous accident, and they enjoy it, that’s wonderful, and I welcome them with open arms and an open heart! But if the only eyes reading it belong to me, I’ll be okay with that, too.


*Roget’s Thesaurus and I are still not on speaking terms.

Think: “Top Ten Health Benefits of Garlic!” or “Hey, Did You Know that Water is Really Good for You?” and other super-high-quality information like that. Yeah. 

‡Of interest: I found several beautiful, high-quality Moleskine journals I had purchased – pages clean and pristine, never used.