When this whole blog thing developed roots my deeply hibernating writer-soul yawned and stretched, scratched its head and peered cautiously around the corner and down the hall. This was way new and different; I was completely intrigued, like when you hear a good conversation at the pool and need to “change your sun position” so you can scoot your chair a little closer.
It was a new way to write, to voice, to be read. Writers love to read and to be read. We sit down to write with equal amounts of hideous insecurity and feverish vanity. We all have different reasons for wanting our art to be seen. For me, it’s to feel like I’m not alone. This is why the blog genre seemed so gloriously doable; in fact it was just perfect for the busy-doing-what-I-need-to-do-business-owner who JUST LONGED TO WRITE, but did not have the time to write a book (insert dream cloud over my head here) or be just magically hired to write a column.
For the last 15 years this writer’s repertoire has consisted of polite emails, staff memos, advertising copy and snazzy menu verbiage. I WAS a writer once, though. I wrote magazine articles and ad copy, copy edited for the Penn Stater magazine, and even had a wine column in the Arlington Courier. I spent five and a half years in college to learn to write. (Yes, five and a half…. I loved my school and I had a great job.) But I took the leap and did what I was terrified to do: I moved to Washington, DC, where I dreamed of becoming a professional journalist, but that didn’t happen. It’s about as easy to land a job as a paid published writer as it is to get on the Disney channel.
Alas! This blog would be on my own terms! It was genius! I sat down at my computer to get started. Let’s do this! WRITE!!! Write. write? (((Crickets))). Big fat uh oh. What on earth was I going to write about? What did I have to say? I’m not an expert at anything. Now I was going to have to give myself my own assignments? Crap. A week went by, then a few months, then a few years. So back on the someday-shelf went my writing. I got scared. Scared to search my soul, scared no one would read what I could or couldn’t write, and even worse, scared people wouldn’t like it.
And then a couple of months ago I saw a quote from the fierce author Anne Lamott: “What if you wake up some day and you’re 65 or 75, and you never got your novel or your memoir written; or you didn’t go swimming in warm pools and oceans all those years because your thighs were jiggly and you had a nice big comfortable tummy; or you were just so strung out on perfectionism and people-pleasing that you forgot to have a big juicy creative life of imagination and radical silliness and staring off into space like you did when you were a kid. It’s going to break your heart. Don’t let it happen.” And there it was: the big, black-belt kick in the butt that I needed. I printed 10 copies and put them everywhere. I no longer had a choice. I had to write now, while I still could. But the “what cloud” still loomed over my cartoon head.
As a reader of blogs, those that affected me the most were either hysterically funny or raw and meaningful. A good blog would have me reaching for the tissues or snorting with laughter which meant the words were getting through and creating a connection. Somebody else felt crazy sometimes, too. I could relate. I wasn’t alone.
The ones I couldn’t relate to were the “perfect ones” written by perfect looking (built like Jillian Michaels) / I feed my people three square meals a day (what IS that?) / I have it all together and can show you how to get there with 5 easy tips” blogs. That’s great for you and the other .0001 percent living the dream, but for the rest of us who live out here in reality, we want to know that there are other people who struggle in relationships, do not have perfect marriages, wonder if they are screwing up their kids, can’t cook hard-boiled eggs, leave their wallet in the shopping cart at the wine store, pass gas in yoga, don’t wear make up to the gym or the store, have conversations with themselves about the reasons to get out of bed, can’t figure out what vitamins to take and think a dip in the pool means I don’t really need a shower. This is who I am. And THESE are the people I want to know. I’M NOT PERFECT! I’m screwy and quirky and faulty. THERE! I SAID IT!
Boom: There’s a theme for you. Come join my club.