Welcome to my Blog

On this, the occasion of my first blog entry for my official authorly website (which is called simply by my name, like I’m a fashion line for Target instead of a person who sometimes flosses too hard and reads magazines back-to-front) I feel like I should say something about writing. What else would a writer’s blog on a writer’s website possibly be about? Well let me tell ya (she says with a grizzled sea captain’s squint), it ain’t always about the writing. In fact, “it” (by which I mean capital “L” Life, and, to a lesser extent, this lower case “b” blog), is often about everything but the writing. And yet somehow it all serves the words in the end if you can catch your breath long enough to sit down and scribble after all of the lifey-ness lets up.

Then, maybe you write about the flipping-a-refrigerator-truck-on-a-mountain-top-in-a-blizzard-type moments you survived just to pay the bills so you could keep scribbling a little longer (and how you think the Creator should have made you a better writer if she was going to go to such heroic lengths to save your life). You write about how you had the best birthday one year and the saddest Christmas the next, but you change all the names so no one can take credit or blame for the part they played. (But maybe they’ll know anyway if you do something dumb like changing “Geoff” to “Jeff”. Don’t do that.) You will be tempted to write about that one year when Life took so many people you love by the scruff of the neck and held them over the abyss, giving you that cocked eyebrow look that dared, just dared you, to think you knew anything about anything. But it will take a long time before the sour taste and saltwater-in-a-gash feeling of that year fades enough for you to stomach it, so meanwhile you content yourself with bloggish anecdotes and fictional stories that end well and stay that way.

When I was a kid, I thought that writing a book was a miraculous feat. I would read my favorite volumes and think “Wow, this writer had to choose every. single. word. I could never do that! I know now that this micromanagement of every “if”, “and”, or “but” is not actually true, or at least, it is not true for me. When we speak, once we’ve got the hang of it, we don’t agonize over every noun determiner or preposition, nor every subject-verb-object combo that scaffolds our sentences, do we? “He answered the phone.” Only so many ways to put that down in English. Don’t get me wrong. For my part, writing a book is mostly a bloody-knuckled slugfest between discipline and despond. Even on good days, sometimes sitting down to write runs a distant second to hate-watching Fox News on my list of preferred activities. But writing is hard in different ways than I thought it would be when I was a zealous ten year-old penning crushingly boring journal entries and poor imitations of Emily Dickenson’s poetry.  It’s like how I thought my adult life would be hard like the nighttime soap opera Dallas, because one of your favorite oil wells getting blown up by your jealous lover’s butler is hard, people. Truth be told, if I had known what I was in for, as a writer and a human, I’m not sure I would have signed up. But now it’s too late, because I have a website.

Comedian Maria Bamford said it best during a stand-up routine when she described asking a successful actress what it takes to make it in show business. The response amounted to a vapid exhortation to “just love doing it” and to “really want it”. Bamford’s face went famously blank as she recounted this exchange, blinking into the spotlight as her sold-out audience stilled their breath for every silent beat of exquisite timing. This was her confessional, and they were her chosen confessors. “I didn’t even want to be here tonight,” she whispered hoarsely, and laughter boomed so hard through the theater it jiggled the light fixtures. The line is funny because it’s true, and because we all know what it’s like to be somewhere, not because we want to be, but because we have to or something inside of us shrivels. Welcome to my blog.

Julie AitchesonComment