When I started this blog six months ago, I made a private deal with myself. “Self,” I said, “it might be very difficult to get a blog started. Maybe no one will read it for a long time, plus I might run out of things to write about. Plus I won’t want to write essays when I’m having a bad day. I’d better make a commitment so that I don’t wimp out on myself.” I decided not to give up for at least six months. Any less than that didn’t seem like a real attempt.
Writers are often encouraged to start blogs. Publicity (blah blah blah) promotion (murph) building a fan base/tribe (blah blah) building discipline (blah de blah) marketing (gack). Okay, I actually think all those things can be pretty interesting at times, but the truth is that none of them provided the motivation for starting this blog. They’re just a whole lot of cherries on top.
What I realized back in the spring, when I was first conceptualizing this blog and what I wanted it to be, was that for me, being a writer meant having something to say. I say “for me” because I’m not sure if this is true for all writers (feel free to chime in and tell me!) And I realized that with internet technology at the stage it’s in, not being published yet was no excuse for me to be silent. If I was a real writer, I thought, I’d say what I felt was important to say, publishing contract or no.
Working on this blog has been a transformative experience for me. It reminds me twice a week that, yes, I want to be the kind of person who has something to say. It makes me stretch myself in directions I wouldn’t expect because some days I sit down to write and I have to force myself to say something, anything, and I don’t even have an inkling of where to start. And some days I get a comment from one of my readers that makes me realize what I said made a difference to someone, and I feel full to bursting.
Ultimately this blog has turned me into a writer by my definition of the word, and that’s what matters most to me.
So I will be continuing this little experiment for another six-month period. In conversation, a few people have called this a writer’s blog, and my immediate reaction has been, “What? No, it’s not a writer’s blog. I don’t talk a lot about craft (only a little, I swear!) or promote my projects or give you word counts.” But of course, I’m completely wrong. This is a writer’s blog by definition because I am a writer, and that fact shapes the conversation here.
I’ve also spent some time worrying about writing on theme. If you’ve ever read any blogs about blogging, you will have noticed that they always suggest finding a theme and writing to that. For instance, I could write about creativity and the processes that surround that. Or I could write about parenting, or I could write about training show dogs. Or whatever. Writing on theme gives your audience some idea what to expect from you; it also narrows down your writing options to more manageable proportions and gives you a frame for whatever you decide to talk about.
But since I’m embracing the fact that this is a writer’s blog, I can also play fast and loose with my theme. So what is this blog about? It’s about the things that are so important that I want to write about them. It’s about creativity and art, sure, and it’s about how to live a dream, and it’s about optimism and how to be happier, and it’s about trying to pull together patterns to make the world coalesce in a different way. Because this is what writers do. We take a character’s life, full of random chance and mundane moments, and we polish it until it says something. We create meaning.
So that is what I’m wishing: for 2011 to be, for me and for you, a year in which we can create meaning together.