I’ve been writing for a long time. Well, it seems like that to me, and for most people, 14 years isn’t anything to sneeze at. That’s a quarter of my life.
If you’ve been a reader of my various blogs, then you are somewhat familiar with my story. If you haven’t heard it before, here it is in a nutshell. At the age of 39, after dabbling with writing on-and-off for a couple of years, I got serious about my craft. Much of this newfound motivation was a result of reading Stephen King’s well-known book about writing, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. I followed his advice in establishing a routine and adopting discipline. About a year later, I had an essay published. Three years later, my award-winning first book, When Towns Had Teams, came out. That was in 2005.
I continued on through two Moxie books, the period I called “the Moxie years,” and in 2012, decided it was time to move on to something more personal—a book of seven essays touching down on my life experiences, with several centered on my hometown of Lisbon Falls. That book was a failure from a sales standpoint, even though it contained my best writing to date.
During the last decade-and-a-half, I’ve also spent extended periods freelancing for local newspapers, regional magazines, alt-weeklies, and a few websites. I’ve gathered a file of clips, with my most recent ones posted here.
A week ago, a talented local writer who also happens to blog posted about her own challenges as a writer. She was honest about her own struggles and a recent tough patch that she’s been through, including receiving rejection notices for her latest novel.
It takes courage to remain transparent and not paper over our failures and the moments when we question whether writing really matters, or not. I commend this talented writer for being forthright.
When I decided to get real about my own quest to be a writer, I embraced blogging. That was back in 2003 and I was working at a large insurance company I often refer to as, “Moscow Mutual.” My posts pretty much wrote themselves, I had so much to talk about and wanted to share everything with the whole world.
During the past 13 years, I’ve experienced maybe two “dry spells” as a blogger. The last one was back in 2007, I think.
My routine of blogging twice weekly since 2012 has been fun. This self-imposed schedule used to be something I shared as a point of pride, especially with writing students, as an example of “writers gotta’ write.”
Yes, “writers gotta’ write” until it feels like writing is self-indulgent and whatever I have to say has been said by others (much better). After years of at best, mediocre traffic at any of my various blogs, I have been wondering, “what’s the point?”
I’m not going to deep-six the JBE just yet, but I’m not feeling any real urgency to post regularly, either.
Maybe the multiple “jobs” I’ve taken on to cobble together my daily bread have sapped some of my creative energy. I’m no writing super hero, you know! Or perhaps I’m just tired of being ignored by everyone, save for a few devoted readers and commenters.
At one point, I was overtly political as a blogger. I’ve decided that I’m not going to tell you how you should vote each and every week. Not that any of it really matters, anyways. There are only so many ways you can frame posts that posit “technology is bad” before you sound like a broken record. I think it’s better to just keep my thoughts and ideas to myself.
The last time I went on a blogging sabbatical, it was short-lived and I came back a few weeks later armed for bear. Maybe that will happen again, I don’t know. Until that happens, I have plenty of tasks on my to-do list to cross off.
In the old days, people seemed to know how to track us down. They sent letters, or picked up their rotary dial phones and rang us up. Now, email is to labor-intensive to bother with.
In our current era of button-pushing and “liking,” it seems much harder to remain tethered to others outside of the digital realm. There’s an isolation that I’ve been experiencing for some time now.
There is no blog post, or series of posts that will fix that.