I don’t know what this blog is about yet. Exactly what you want to hear, I know, before embarking on 700 words, but bear with me (and hopefully I learn brevity as we go along).
The blog is named after a memoir I’m writing about my meditation practice, so ostensibly it’s about meditation and the process of writing my first book, but I really don’t know what’s going to fall out here, and (I must remind myself) that’s pretty much the point.
Six years ago, right after completing a Master’s in teaching, I moved from Seattle to a farm on a nearby island for the summer. I’d loved grad school but it had been a packed two years, and I’d always been either studying or teaching, with friends, or with my then-boyfriend. There was constantly something to do, yet almost no quality time alone. When it was over, something shot upright in me and commanded: just for a while, for as long as this lasts, spread out somewhere by yourself and be outside a lot and don’t plan things. Just watch, don’t direct, what you do when you can do anything.
I don’t know how to describe this blog except for it being the same instinct. Loving to write may be the oldest thing I know about myself and it’s a process that has continuously made me feel more at home both on (larger) earth and in my own skin. It’s without a doubt something I’m here to do. But now that I write food and other articles for my day-to-day work and am also waist-deep in navigating my first book (all of which I love), I’m not writing much that doesn’t feel like an assignment, and something is bolting up in me again. Find some way, it urges; make some space to see what else wants out right now. It doesn’t need to go anywhere specific. There are no guidelines.
A blog provides more accountability than journaling and makes me polish my work, which I hope keeps me growing as a writer. But, [enter, brief whining interlude] I so wish there was another way. I’ve never wanted to blog—first, because it seemed embarrassingly close to online journaling, and then, because I doubted I had anything to say. And even if I did, wouldn’t my posts be too long and end up repeating the same message? Probably, but because of my resistance, I begrudgingly accept there’s a lot of energy in blogging for me. [Whining complete.] I’ve had one other blog I kept during culinary school because I needed food writing samples to get paid assignments. I enjoyed the process way more than expected, but once I got jobs, I let it go and focused on paying work.
The reason I’m mounting up now—coming from the opposite place, now steeped in paid writing—is because it’s time to reclaim the capacity in this craft for me. For as long as I can remember, writing has been one of my bottom lines, and when I let myself go anywhere with it, it always, always teaches me something. It also frees me up in a way nothing else does.
At the Pacific Northwest Writers Association conference in July, the New York agent Rita Rosenkrantz led a session on writing nonfiction book proposals, and stressed the importance of a social media presence in order to build platform to eventually sell books. Gazing into our sea of downcast faces, she knew many of us would rather swallow bleach than promote ourselves in this way, and every unnatural step in this direction seemed to take immense effort. As she concluded the talk, she smiled, softening. “The more you see it as an adventure and the chance to give and grow, the better it will go,” she said. “Do it graciously, not obnoxiously, and have fun.”
Or, put another way: Snap out of woe-is-me and reframe this, because that’s your power. There is fun to be had here! This helps me better warm into social media and blogging both, and reminds me of the good that always comes from surrendering to what truly calls.
After about four months, living on Vashon Island ran its course, and as I grew lonely and bone cold in the flimsy farmhouse, I remembered my urban, socialite leanings and returned to the city. But before that point, it was one of the knockout best summers of my life. Making space is a good thing. Sometimes it’s the only way to figure out what’s possible.