Okay. Let’s start with a confession. Everybody loves a good confession. I am a writer who has not been writing.
After studying creative writing and poetry for approximately 7 years, I’ve spent the last three years afraid to put my butt in the chair and just write. Anything. Not a poem, not a draft, forget trying my hand at fiction. I’ve cautiously kept to grocery lists, thank you notes, emails and course descriptions. As any writer knows, the longer you avoid writing, the scarier the thought of writing gets. The pressure you put on yourself to write something worthwhile builds, you start to wonder if you’ll be any good at it anymore. When you admit to not writing, your family and friends chastise you for wasting a talent, giving up on a dream, letting a once pivotal piece of your identity start to disappear. You start to accept that you weren’t really cut out to be a writer to begin with. Except…
Except that thought is heartbreaking. Life changing. Catastrophic.
Except, chances are you’ll have at least one friend, one understanding fellow writer who sympathizes with you and tells you, more than once and in more than one fashion, that even a silence of three years can be broken. That you should “Write it!” “even though it may seem like…disaster”*.
Except eventually you will face the facts. You love writing. You are good at it. You will hear your friend.
I am lucky enough to have that friend, and her advice to me was to try writing something new. Try a blog. Well, since then this blog has been in the works… first as just a simmering idea, then as a pressing to-do, and, as of late, an empty wordpress template. I wish sitting down and starting writing anything was as simple for me as it was for Bilbo Baggins at the beginning of “Lord of the Rings” when he dips his quill and scratches out “Concerning Hobbits.” But it’s not.
First you have to have an idea of what you’re going to be writing about. And THEN you face the horrific task of settling on a title, which is where I’ve been stuck for about a month. It will come as no surprise to my family that I had a hard time making a decision. Growing up, my Mom always had a range of 3-8 dressings in the fridge to pour on our salads… when I open a restaurant menu I typically don’t decide on my order until the waiter stands giving me an expectant look. I am also a perfectionist, which is one of the many reasons I think I am a good poet, or a good writer. I have already revised this post three times. I can linger over the choice of just the right word for days… months in a poem.
There are a thousand billion blogs out there, but the best ones seem to have a focus: So when it came to thinking about what my blog should be about, I made a list:
The Food Industry & Sustainable Eating
I didn’t want to write a blog about any of these things… I wanted to write a blog about all of these things. And I wanted there to be space for more, in case some new passion arrived. In other words, as a Queen of Indecision, I decided not to decide. For those of you who say this is just another way to put off making a real decision, I simply say “Off with your head!”
But that left the pesky little matter of a title still at hand. Now the task seemed even more daunting because I had to choose a title that the poet in me would be happy with. It had to say “this blog is about everything and anything”, it had to say grab bag, button jar, potpourri, miscellany. I thought I had it with Affinities (echoing the title of one of my poems) but that URL was already taken. Dangnabit! Finally the poet in me started brainstorming images… things that I loved that implied variety, magic, and possibility.
“Spinning Straw into Gold” was an idea, but that’s what I’ve named one of the courses I teach and felt too much like an old hat. Finally, Eureka! I thought of the apothecary’s chest… a chest made of so many little drawers… think of everything that would be inside those drawers… the trinkets, potions,spices and minerals. I imagined a chest with a thousand of these little drawers… all the bottles lining his shelves in the shop. And that naturally led me to the alchemist, with a similar array of materials spread out… attempting to make gold. Almost a witch, but without the ugly nose. More Shakespeare than Harry Potter. Perfect! Apothecary’s Chest, Alchemist’s Table.
And so, boys and girls, my dear hobbits, muggles, Narnians, Lost Boys, Mad Hatters and Munchkins… this is the path we are upon. In this blog I’ll be writing about everything, anything…maybe along the way I will find something to focus on. But the point is, I’ll be writing.
*from Elizabeth Bishop’s poem “One Art”