Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Word Jelly

Why Write
"Why write?" I keep asking myself. I get cantankerous when I don't get time to write and yet I ask myself, "What are you writing about that's valuable to other people?" I guess it comes down to a selfish like of writing. Thoughts swirl in my head all day. Having time to write at day's end allows these thoughts to congeal into a kind of substance, a word jelly if you will, which forms mysteriously unexpectedly. I have no idea where I am going to end up and that interests me, but still I wonder if I need a purpose for it. Do we have to have a purpose to what we do?

Other Blog Ideas
In search of ideas, I explored the competition. Some blogs are funny but crude, some are funny and well written, some are full of beautiful art or photographs, some seem off on deep ends. Some have a narrow purpose and some have a general purpose. More popular blogs appear to have a specific purpose and provide a lot of links and resources in one place.

Checklists for increasing blog traffic include writing frequently and well, commenting on other blogs, and asking friends to link your blog to theirs. I started with wondering if my blog has any broader appeal, what is it's purpose, and whether I could do more to promote it. I ended up thinking there are so many words in cyberspace it is any wonder that my own mother can find this and make time to read it.

Art for Art's Sake
I read somewhere that William Blake, the English poet, was all about art for art's sake. Of course I also think of some successful writers who manage a few bucks with some weak themes that some how sell. Ok so I have't actually read the Purpose Drive Life or Think and Grow Rich, and I hated The Shack which I read for a book group but all those book sales demonstrate that those stories are just as valued or needed as Charlotte's Web and Anne of Green Gables and Le Petit Prince, but I can't feel it. I wonder if it is the same readers who buy these books or if it's different groups of readers?

I received an evite to take an online class with Oprah. I deleted it thinking I already have too much to do. Yesterday I noted a blogger asking for input for an online class- stuff about finding yourself wherever you are in life- transitions like career or relationships. I inwardly groaned thinking, "we find ourselves when we aren't looking so damned hard." But today I keep thinking that even if my notion is to stop searching and looking, existing and being are tough. I want an answer, not the ambivalence, like everyone else. My husband tells me that many a patient has wanted a Dr. Phil to tell them what to do, but that it doesn't work.

We have to do the work ourselves. I may ponder, "Will my writing have any meaning beyond me or my circle?" but the truth has a hard edge- I don't know and I will likely never know. The issue is if this unknowing will keep me from the doing? When I think about it like that, I hope not. It took me forty years to start writing. I desire to write and when I do, something appears on the page that I did not expect. That alchemy is why I come back, why I make the time. Can I ask more than that of myself? Is there a story in me? Maybe. I am back to ambivalence which is where I think most of us need to get comfortable anyway; we don't know much about anything. Heck the East Coast of America has earth quakes, who knew.

During my extended trips home, especially at my parent's house, I tend to watch TV. I call it, "my annual dose," as I don't watch much the rest of the year. Popular this summer? Game shows where under time pressure, bakers bake, cooks cook, and decorators decorate. My overall impression is that the outcomes though interesting are clearly not what they could be if allowed to be more fully executed. Last summer I had watched a few shows from the Cake Boss whiling away a rainy afternoon in a hotel with my daughter. I loved seeing the cakes. I couldn't believe what could be done with cake. This year there is a show with a contest whereby three cake makers compete, get distracted with their personalities and infighting, and oh also decorate cakes under serious time pressure. You feel kind of used up afterward. I am not sure it is good to watch it even though at the time it is exciting and you must know the outcome so you sit there with every commercial and stick it out. It reminds me that just because something is successful doesn't mean it is good.

The Work
The doing of the work is less glamourous without the film crew rolling, but it is the work, time spent on our callings, that give meaning. So you go to Harvard or you get a job at a Fortune 500 Company or you win the contest, then what do you do? I love To Kill a Mockingbird, but it mystifies me that Harper Lee never wrote another book. I can't believe that someone compelled to write would only write one book and then never touch the pen again. A writer writes. She won the Pulitzer Prize and then nothing to say ever? My mom says, "She perfected it the first time out. She called it quits while she was ahead," as if it is settled. I can see that for an NBA basketball player that has played for twelve seasons and chooses to retire while at the top of their game, maybe, but even there so many of them can't help but want to play again. If you play ball, you play ball. If you write, you write. Some people are more successful, but success is also about doing what you love every day. Harper Lee supposedly said of her not writing again, "I have said what I wanted to say and I will not say it again." That means she was done writing in 1960. I can't imagine not writing or having another thought to share for the next fifty years. What do you go for: prize or process? I'm staying with word jelly.

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