New Pathways

The end of summer is approaching. Not only has it been downright cold for the past week, but also it’s much darker in the mornings when I get up early. I rummage around for a sweatshirt in the closet before venturing downstairs. My mug of hot orange pekoe never tastes better, though, than on these chilly mornings. Heat trickles down my throat and settles in my middle, where it warms me from within. It’s hard not to believe it’s the end of September, season of fall fairs and pumpkin competitions that I love so much… when it comes in the proper chronological order. Where has August disappeared?

photo: tumblr
A good reason to get out of bed!    (photo: tumblr)

Some changes have been happening in my writing life lately. I was notified at the end of July that the TLC Parentables site would freeze on August 1, meaning I’d be out of a job. I’ve written three times a week for Parentables for the past year and have loved that gig – my first paid writing job. After a day of feeling very sorry for myself, something amazing happened. An email arrived in my inbox from another Discovery editor interested in hiring me for a different site. So, negotiations now complete, I will now be writing once a week for TreeHugger, a wonderful site about sustainability issues and green living that I’ve enjoyed reading for years. Life is funny like that. It’s so true that “When one door closes, another will always open.”

I’ve been feeling a bit apathetic about my blog lately. I still love it as much as ever and have an ongoing list of posts I want to write, but the flow of ‘creative juices’ has thickened and slowed like maple syrup. I’m trying to figure out what’s going on. It’s not burnout, because the strong urge to write is still there. Perhaps it’s just the movement associated with summertime and lack of a regular schedule. The boys are around and I spend more time entertaining them, playing outside, visiting parks, cooking together, and reading dozens of books daily. (We’re hooked on Bill Peet, Winnie the Witch, and a fabulous Swedish series called “Pettson and Findus.”)

The bigger problem, I suspect, is my new fear of offending people. I’m struggling to strike a balance between keeping readers/friends happy while writing openly and honestly about what’s on my mind. I never wish to create discord, though I do know my writing can be controversial and provocative at times; but, as fellow blogger Warm Ginger once told me, “There’s a reason it’s called the ‘feisty’ blog!” On the other hand, discretion and consideration are important qualities for a writer to cultivate, especially a blogger who depends on regular, satisfied viewers.

Writer's block (photo: documentarywriting.org)
Writer’s block     (photo: documentarywriting.org)

Being a writer sometimes feels like a curse or a burden. As one author wrote in the acknowledgements section of her book (sorry, I can’t remember who): “They have a writer in the family, through no fault of their own.” That resonated with me, as did David Sedaris’ description of his parents’ reactions to his first book: “You’re killing us!” Writing is threatening to many people because it can be powerful. It exposes and reveals in uncomfortable ways. It challenges ways of thinking. It’s also permanent. Words, once flung out into the world, take on a life of their own. While this is an effective, subversive way to fight oppression in certain parts of the world, it can also create resentment where none is intended. What is simply an observation of the world may be interpreted as criticism, which comes back to haunt the writer. That being said, it’s all part of this fascinating learning curve that blogging is for me. I’m finding my voice, growing in confidence, fulfilling a passion.

“Go and make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes. Break rules. Leave the world more interesting for your being here. Make. Good. Art.” ~Neil Gaiman

You might also like:
My Notebook Addiction
Defining a “writer”
Say it: “I am a writer.”

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9 thoughts on “New Pathways

  1. Your controversial blog entries are the best! They showcase your incredible talent for writing, and have prompted some of the best debates around (okay, across) our dinner table. Without those provocative posts, you’d have to change your blog title to “tepid red hair” – and that is just not you.

    Congratulations on the new column! I can’t wait to read it.

  2. I really like your posts on controversial topics. Sure, some people might be offended but where’s the fun in agreeing with people all the time? I love a good debate. 🙂 And I really enjoy reading your writing.

  3. I’m delighted to hear you’ll be writing for TreeHugger! That is wonderful news. As for your other concerns, I don’t think you should worry about it. Once of the most important things about being an artist-type is to be true to yourself. As long as you’re doing that, you’ll be growing as a writer and finding your voice. Just say the truth. Your audience will find you, and will be made up of people who like what you say. The other people just don’t matter.
    I’ve really enjoyed following your blog since I stumbled on it by accident last year. I look forward to reading your posts on TreeHugger.

  4. Of course, if you are writing about real people, revealing things about friends or family….that is different! (That’s where fiction comes in real handy, I’ve found.)

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