It’s already well into August and I’m looking at the date of the last time I posted here. Where has my time gone? In June it went to Montana for twelve days. For a good portion of July it went to the University of Anchorage for my third MFA residency. As it goes with employment, plenty of my summer time has been spent at the library.
Thankfully, some of my summer has involved soaking up much-needed sunshine and hanging out with friends and family. Some of my time was even spent running, after a very long (read twenty-some years) hiatus. Nearly all of my summer was spent mentally and emotionally preparing myself for my daughter’s departure to school on the East Coast. And almost constantly, my time was spent thinking about writing, which is what I do when I’m not writing.
The high summer days are gone now and it’s time for me to get some words written down instead of letting them swim around in my brain. It’s getting dark again at night and the rainy season is back. Adella left a few days ago. Time isn’t as elusive as it has been, and yet I’m finding it hard to know where to begin.
I’ll guess I’ll start with an admission: I’ve spent a lot of time over the past few months questioning myself mercilessly about my reasons for continuing to write here on this blog. I’ve thought about bringing it to an end. I’ve wondered if I should change it up, make it into something more professional or more in tune with marketing myself, which seems to be the whole point of having a blog according to the million or so writers’ advice articles I’ve read on the subject. I’ve fretted over what I named it, after all if a person doesn’t know the story behind the name, it does sound a little egotistical. Worrying, fretting, second-guessing myself: apparently I have those parts of being a writer figured out.
Then I thought about the things this blog has done for me since I started it nearly five years ago. It may need some updating as far as formatting is concerned. It may seem to have no identifiable theme, (which is another certain no-no in the blogging world.) It may have no predictable schedule for new posts. Clearly, it is an imperfect blog and being that I’m an MFA student entering my thesis year, I should spend my limited writing time working on my critical essay or on fiction.
But through questioning my motives and wondering if I should continue here, I’ve realized that this blog has been, and can continue to be, an important part of my becoming a writer. It gives me a small but diverse audience. It gives me a chance to write something besides fiction. It challenges me to write with precision. It does all of those things, but it does something even more important. Let me explain:
I think the best writers, whether they’re writing fiction or poetry or nonfiction, are those who are honest—honest with the story they are telling or poem they are creating, honest with those who will read their work, but most importantly, honest with themselves. And honesty is hard. It means putting yourself out there, opening up, making yourself vulnerable. And could anything be scarier?
Last October, I posted a very personal story on this blog in reaction to something that happened in my town. I had never told a soul that particular story and yet I wrote it on here for all to see. I hit the publish button and started shaking. I shook for almost a week afterwards as it was passed around the web through personal emails and Facebook. I shook as friends and acquaintances stopped me in town to talk with me about it. I took a huge risk. It was terrifying. But it ended up being a connecting experience. People shared their own stories. People expressed to me their gratitude for having spoken up.
It was hard to share that story and even as I was doing it I questioned my motives for doing so. I wondered what it meant that I could tell such a secret publicly. But then I remembered that I’m an aspiring writer and writers are supposed to tell stories. We’re supposed to write about what it means to be alive even if it’s hard and, sometimes, even if it’s personal. If nobody wrote the hard things, I think we’d all feel alone.
And so Lofty Minded in Alaska is not about marketing myself or about selling anything. It’s not about perfection or keeping up with trends. This blog is about connecting with other people. As long as it seems to be doing that, I’ll keep at it. Also, there are things I want to write about that are even harder than what I’ve written so far. Some of it will best be written about in the form of fiction, but some of it needs to be the straight up truth. And since I still hold back, I think I’ll keep this blog as a place to practice being brave. If I’ve learned anything from keeping this blog it’s that writing fearlessly takes practice.