We Have To Go Back

I’m still thinking about the whole elder blogging thing, and the What Am I Doing With This Site? of it all; it’s an ongoing process, a problem that — unlike so many other problems — is neither serious nor pressing, and therefore fun to play with and return to when possible. Reading the Wim Wenders book fueled my desire to explore this site as a place for, as Warren Ellis recently put it, “not fully baked notions.”

There’s a quote that I utterly misremembered from roughly the same era as when I discovered the Wenders book that applies here, from designer April Greiman: “To feel lost is so great.” It’s the idea that the act of discovery and re-evaluation and the improvisation that comes from being forced to abandon routine, even good routine. When I first read that line, I loved it and was afraid of it — being lost wasn’t great, it’s scary, but at least someone finds this value in this horrible situation.

As I’ve gotten older (and lived more, failed more and come to accept and perhaps even appreciate the limits of my own experience), my read on that line has changed, and I’ve come to embrace the potential and possibility that comes with being out of my depth. Yes, there’s a lot I have to learn, still, but there’s something exciting and exhilarating in that process just as there’s something exhausting and terrifying. There’s something to be said for not having answers and showing your working and learning in public. (In some areas, at least.)

Perhaps the point of having a space like this is to be lost, and to share the thoughts we have as we try to find ourselves.

All Around Us

A random thought about the last few daily photographs I’ve blogged: I really like empty space, don’t I…? Hmm. Entirely unintentional, but interesting (to me) to note, nonetheless…

I Know You Are, But What Am I?

I have trouble admitting to myself (and others) that I’m a professional writer. On some level, I know that I make my living from putting one word in front of another and doing it until I make sentences and then making enough sentences until there are paragraphs, posts, essays and thoughts, but on another, I still don’t feel like a professional writer. There’s part of my head that thinks “Well, you’re only a blogger, and that’s different. It’s not like you’re a novelist or playwright or a real writer like that.”

(Our next door neighbor, having seen me sitting at my laptop typing many many times, asked Kate if I was working on a novel. “He seems to always be working,” he apparently said, and I am. I had to bite back the response that it feels like a professional blogger seems like more work than writing a novel, sometimes. All those ideas, all that brevity! On an unending daily basis!)

I have trouble remembering when writing became my “thing”; I went to art school for years because drawing was my thing, and the only writing I did was to support that, whether it was stories to illustrate or essays or whatever. But somewhere along the line, making images became less fun and more exhausting, more competitive, and I was always surrounded by people who could do what I could do much better, and so I retreated into words: My final MA show was a book, which I had illustrated, yes, but which was about the words as much as the way it looked. Self-expression through language.

From there, writing was a hobby, a way of blowing off steam, I guess; an all-encompassing way, sometimes, but still. When I started writing for other people – at first, the audience I realized I had, then for Brian (My first paid writing gig!), for Matt, for others – it became this responsibility, scary in its expectation. But by the time Annalee and io9 came around, I’d gotten over that (Well, for the most part), and the idea of making a living as a writer seemed like a dream come true.

It still does, I should add; doing what I do for a living is amazing to me, even now, more than a year into it. But, for some reason, I still feel that there is a distance to go before I become a professional writer.

(Originally published July 12, 2009 at iamgraememcmillan.com before it got retrofitted as a work site. This is very funny to go back and re-read now, considering that it’s three years later and I am far more jaded about being a writer by this point, even though I now write for Time.)