Sandbox

kid-395659_1920When I began this website many, many moons ago, blogging had just become the latest hot thing. Someone said I should do it. My natural response was “Why?”

Because,” they somewhat impatiently replied, like it was so obvious I must be a total dunce to not understand, “everyone’s doing it.”

Really? I thought. Everyone? What could everyone possibly have to say? And if everyone was writing blogs, who was reading them? (It certainly wasn’t me.)

“What would I write about?”

<A somewhat insulting eyeroll> “About writing!

Now there was a terrifying thought. I knew just how much I didn’t know about the business of writing, so no way was I going to put myself out into the world like some font of wisdom. (There’s too many of those sorts of jackasses already.) As for being a writer, well, even after nearly thirty years as a professional, I’m still so wrapped up in the PFM (pure fucking magic) of writing that I’m reluctant to talk about it except with a select few. Magic should be handled lightly, and with respect, and one must be careful in choosing the members of one’s Fellowship.

But I gave it a shot. I wrote a few pieces about my particular writing process, and things I’d observed or experienced for myself and with other writers, and I bored my socks off. I felt like such an imposter.  I was still learning (God willing, I’ll always be learning the craft, right up until they pry the keyboard from my cold, dead fingers), and I guess  hearing from someone who is learning can be beneficial, but it didn’t feel that way to me. Instead if felt like ridiculous posturing. So I stopped.

Then I was told to pick a subject–any subject–and make my blog about that, so readers would know what to expect from post to post, and know they can come to me for that one thing. Now “that one thing” can be pretty diverse within itself, but I have one of those jackrabbit brains that leap all over the place. That’s not to imply lack of discipline (you don’t write books or stories or articles with lack of discipline), but I wanted to engage with myself as much as I wanted to engage with my (hoped for) readers. And I wanted to give the readers some credit. They’re not mindless bovine feeding on silage (okay, well, yeah, maybe some of them are…), but I hoped to connect with those whose interests are as wide-ranging as my own, those who might reach out with opinions and engage in dialogue.

So I couldn’t stick with one topic. Oh, I go on stints of one topic. Animals are a big part of my life and they show up frequently (especially elephants over the past six years), as do human relationships and my own difficulties with managing same….or good books I’ve read….or something I witnessed….or…..

Maybe I am undisciplined, at least in this respect, but it seems to me that if I’m going to take time from my “real” writing (whatever form that may presently take), I need to enjoy it and find some intrinsic worth in the words I put here. So if you choose to visit now and then, be forewarned that I’ll continue to write what calls to me.

I read an interview with Neil Gaiman some time ago, and in it he mentioned (not by name) a science fiction writer he knew who’d written a fantastic western, but couldn’t get it published because he was “a science fiction writer” in the eyes of those with power, and couldn’t possibly be anything else. Ursula LeGuin wrote about being asked what sorts of books she wrote and she replied that left to her own devices, she’d called them novels. Not fantasy, not science fiction, just novels. How freeing!

I deplore labels. Don’t call me a writer of <blank>, just call me a writer. If you’re compelled to write one sort of thing (poetry, science fiction, fantasy, romance, western, you name it), good for you! I celebrate you! But if, like me, you’re bound to a capricious Muse who grins with wicked delight every time she drops an idea into my brain and whispers, “What about this?” then you ought to have the freedom to play in whatever sandbox you choose. And if the powers that be won’t let you, build your own sandbox.

And make it BIG.

One Comment on “Sandbox

  1. I love this Melissa. Your days must be so full. I love hearing what’s going on in that head of yours. Hope the good weather continues for you but then it will be much more difficult to put your fingers to the keys and we would all miss that. Oh my yes it takes considerable discipline to be a writer.

    Like

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