This is not a blog about writing. I promise.
Today someone asked me if I was enjoying my blog. It was easy to shout, “YES!!” because since last Thursday I’ve been in a constant state of excitement scribbling notes and brainstorming and pulling over to the side of the road to write down a sentence or two. In fact, I woke up to go potty two nights ago at 3 a.m. and spent the next hour laying in the dark writing a paragraph in my head.
I’m sure the novelty will wear off, the excitement will die down and the writer’s block will return, but for now I’m thrilled with this creative burst of energy that seems to make everything else I do get done faster so I have more time to think about my blog. One thing, however, will not change about writing this blog.
I can do what I want.
I can write what I want and how I want and while it might affect how many readers return for the next post, I don’t have to run it by my boss, let it be ripped apart by a client or have all meaning squeezed out of it by an editor.
I CAN DO WHAT I WANT.
This may be the only time in my professional writing life that I’ve been able to say that.
The truth is, I kinda have a mind of my own.
(New friends: that roar of laughter you hear is the people that have spent time with me in real life. They think they’re funny. We’ll see how funny it is when I write a blog post about them…)
I like things the way I like them. But at least I’ll admit it. I doubt there’s a person reading this who wouldn’t like things to be exactly like they want them to be. The difference is, I open my mouth, sometimes loudly and often to my own detriment. I’m not saying I don’t compromise or I don’t care about what others want. I just express my opinion and let the chips fall where they will.
People have this idealistic view of creative careers. Artists, writers, musicians, graphic designers, publishers—we all have these reputations for being self-absorbed, cocooned in a corner expressing ourselves however we see fit no matter what anyone thinks.
Well, not if we want to earn a living. As soon as you take a paycheck for writing, drawing, entertaining or anything artistic, you are at the mercy of the person who pays you as well as your audience. The truth is, most professional “free spirits” are confined by the likes and dislikes, wants and needs of the people around them. Those that aren’t have a very large trust fund.
But this isn’t just about writing. It’s true of everything. No matter how you spend your days—whether you’re a mother, a teacher, a social worker, a cop, a circus clown—you must answer to someone about what you’re doing.
I first knew I wanted to be a writer in 3rd grade when we made Christmas booklets. Our teacher gave us four or five pieces of paper, told us to stack them and fold them in half. After she stapled them together, she told us to fill the pages anyway we wished, as gifts for our parents. A lot of people drew pictures on every page, but even in the third grade I knew my limited artistic ability would be a tremendously sucky gift for my parents. I proceeded to write poems, most of them spelling out Christmas-themed words with the first letter on every line. I was very impressed at the sheer brilliance of this creative coup—who would have thought to spell out a word with the lines of a poem?! Too bad that Shakespeare guy hadn’t thought of it first!
From that point on, any time the teacher directed us to do what we wanted, I wrote. I wrote whatever I wanted. As I got older, I thought writing whatever you wanted just might be the best job in the world.
Thirty years later, I’m a bit more realistic. In my professional life, there will always be someone reading over my stuff and telling me what to do with it.
But not on this blog.
Here, I can do what I want. And my readers can do what they want—they can read it if they enjoy it or click “close” if they are bored to tears.
Although, maybe true creativity is expressing yourself uniquely within the confines and in spite of the limitations put on you by the world at large.
But if it’s okay with you, here on this blog, I think I’ll just continue to do what I want.