Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Going About It A New Way
When I try to write very carefully, clearly defined pieces, I wind up doing one of two things. I either oversimplify, thus reducing the effectiveness and potency of the piece, or I write very long pieces that risk losing any but the long-endurance reader. This is, at least in part, because I grew up reading novels rather than short stories. It is also perhaps because I love language, nuance, explication, and unpacking meaning. The result is that I have been floundering with this blog, uncertain about where to begin or end anything, lost in editing, over-concerned with managing details. We are our own worst critics, as everyone knows, but I am also my own worst publishing house, regularly refusing to commit things to print because, well, this piece is far too long or that piece is short not only in length but also in real content.
Also, I have ADD. Not ADHD, mind you, but ADD. Writing is, for me, a matter of energetic bursts driven by intense focus and interest. So long as I may sustain the fascination with saying whatever it is I'm trying to say, I can sustain the writing. But if I get too bogged down in something I'm having a hard time expressing, then anything can divert me from my course and swallow whatever energy I had remaining. Hours later, staring at what I was previously writing, I see it as if it's a faded, tattered fragment from some previous season. It's very hard to pick it up again. Too, I lack self-confidence. My internal critic is all too happy to savage my efforts. While I am able to recognize that, yes, I am quite capable of writing good prose, it is also true that I am not able to ignore that internal voice saying, "Why do you bother? Nobody is interested in this crap you share."
I used to be a lot more prolific, more daring, more carefree. Stories, screeds, meditations, rants, poetry, vignettes; all flowed from my fingers and into the keyboard as if I was born to write. People were often moved to comment to my writing, telling me that I was very good and, surprised that I wasn't published, where I should be published. The truth is, though, that I was a different person back then. Not a better person, either. Since those years, I have matured considerably, and grown as a person in ways that make me, more often than not, glad I lived to see such change in myself. But I write a lot less, now. The drive is still there, but it is not obsessively insistent. I work, now. I have to work, now. Whatever I might have been as a writer back in the day,—well, it's just gone and done. And that's okay, really. That wasn't to be my life. This life I have now is.
In this life as I live it, there is a real urge to write about what matters to me. I took a fair number of English and journalism classes over the years, and I wrote editorials and music reviews, and I even earned a scholarship for my efforts. All of that experience informed who I am, now. I read a lot of articles within a range of topics that matter to me, but they all distill into a concern with and for humanity. I am drawn toward writing as a form of activism on these topics. I just don't know yet how to really talk about them in a way that adds to the important discussion. If there's one thing I can't stand, it's writing a piece that amounts to chirping "Me, too!" at people. It is not useful to write an opinion piece that basically notes that the findings of the findings are findings according to my findings. You feel me?
My mother taught me that being personable and personal creates an atmosphere wherein people will listen to what you're saying. Anyone can be a jerk spouting opinions. It's an easy road to failure. Nobody actually listens to opinionated jerks. At best, they react in kind. To actually succeed, one needs to share herself openly, be kind, and express her thoughts clearly, cogently, and honestly. Like I'm doing here, I guess you'd say. I mean, that's what I'm trying to do here, anyway.
That is how I need to approach things, and that is how I intend to proceed with this blog. No pontificating. No bloviating or grandstanding. I need to be conversational in tone, and feel free to let the river meander on its course from wellspring to sea, because that is how I will manage to succeed in getting my point across. In a way, that is exactly what I need to do in order to suss out the point I'm really after making.
Thanks for your patience as I learn to be the writer I need to be.