THE TIME HAS COME, FRIENDS!
This December, Unlearning Blog will undergo exciting changes to reflect my growth as a blogger and new directions for my writing.
Apple. Amazon. My first book. What do they have in common?
They were all started in a garage.
Social media exerts two pressures upon your soul:
The message is pretty simple: be liked.
Only it’s hard on our frail human psychology. In fact, it can be downright depressing.
As a blogger, this infectious self-doubting is unavoidable. Every time I write, I stand to be judged.
In July, I finally listened to the pleadings of my heart and did what some would consider marketing suicide for an aspiring writer.
I disappeared from Facebook and Twitter…without warning.
When I started my blog two years ago, I was convinced that I would be the mouthpiece for all mothers – those who work and stay-at-home alike.
Wrong. Dead wrong.
As it turns out, my “you don’t fit neatly into any category” identity followed me into parenthood as well.
The first rule of write club is you don’t talk about write club.
Truly, it’s a secret society of sorts – to be a writer in a sea of non-writers. It’s like every time I pick up a pen or sit down at the monitor, I take an oath of silence.
It’s painful not to talk about what you’re planning to write – what you aspire to communicate to a wider audience. I come up with at least one new book idea every day. But I’m a mom and a teacher, so those ideas don’t necessarily have an appropriate place to be entertained. And time, well, what’s that?
If you, too, are a writer, perhaps you also mull over ideas, stories – really any inspiration that strikes you – for infinite weeks?
Should I write a book?
How can I blog and write a book at the same time?
Should I just try something shorter like poetry?
This is the great difficulty with writing: you spend your days battling words, the very things that – once fully realized – can bring peace.
As a mother, I often feel like I am on the front lines of culture wars. This year I didn’t go Black Friday shopping. But two days later, I was forced to brave Walmart for milk (no blizzard pending).
The scene was so quiet, so serene, and the Christmas aisle was like my own pine-scented paradise. Except I was all alone. There was no warmth.
The whole endeavor to find an advent calendar was fruitless. In fact, I found nothing among the Christmas items but gift-related products. Wrapping paper, bows, gift tags, and tape.
Isn’t Christmas about spending time together?
When I was single, I indulged in Hemingway. I have always been equally fascinated and repulsed by his life. His words – the ones that alcoholism and recklessness produced – sang to me a song my heart knew so well: Love hurts.
Early in my blogging journey it became clear to me that I was no Hemingway – that the kind of sacrifices famous writers have made were no option for me.
My family will always win.
In this, my 100th post, I feel compelled to come clean.
I have been running…and not in the good way. But, first, let me explain.
The trouble all started a year and a half ago when I extracted pure gold from my favorite used bookstore back home: Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. The book was published in 1986, and I harbored strong initial doubts. Six dollars, however, wouldn’t break me, so I took a chance. And, truthfully, I have not been able to put the paperback down since.
Perhaps most striking of all in Goldberg’s inspired wisdom is the following passage:
You practice whether you want to or not. You don’t wait around for inspiration…[y]ou train your mind to cut through or ignore your resistance. You just do it. And in the middle…you love it. When you come to the end, you never want to stop.
Her message is quite simple: Keep writing.
A month after reading these words, I signed up for WordPress. Two months later, readers began to follow my writing.
And seven months later, my book found me.
My husband and I never do things the traditional way. Take, for example, our 2010 World Cup-inspired mission trip to South Africa. I mean, what better way to celebrate your first year of marriage than with vuvuzelas and chicken feet, right?
When I reflect on this adventure, I think back to the dozens of questions that the village children asked me each morning.
“I hear there is a bin for paper, plastic, and tin. Is this true?”
“How old are you?”
And perhaps my favorite of all: “Are you married to the scientist?”
The wonder in their eyes was almost tangible. And, in full transparency, their attention made me feel like a million dollars. I want to see the world this way.
But, alas, I was forced to return to my old life, my old habits, my old attitudes. And only in my matured adult years have I come to see that that perfect African sunset was never meant to be left behind – it was designed to become a part of me.