Not Old Yet: A few summers back, our office had us a batch of brilliant interns – all girls – who gave a terrific presentation on a new trend called "blogs." At the time, this was still a fairly fresh medium for the generalized adult human and it was just barely starting to show up in the business world. One of the interns, Maria, was eventually hired and has since become my friend and young, plucky sidekick - the Gabrielle to my Xena, minus all the heavy lezbo tension. She assured me that setting up a blog was the easiest thing to do and all the cool kids were doing it. That was enough for me. So, on August 9, 2005, with the catchy headline, "Hear That? It's My Blog Cherry Popping!" ClizBiz was born. (When I recently lamented to Maria that I feel old and out-dated with modern technology, she said: "Yeah, but the blogging saves you." Whew!)
The Writing Gym: I quickly realized that the new toy could help me reverse a dangerous habit. I had recently written a cover story for the Santa Barbara Independent about Monty Roberts, "the horse whisperer", and it was excruciating to create. After years of corporate work, my prose taken on a horrible Velveeta texture with perky sentences and clipped, guarded descriptions; my own writing style had gone weak from lack of use. Used to being a hired hand for multi-national corporations, the Heather voice had become weak and distant. Zoinks! The blog became a place where I could just go and work out, "a place to bench press 10-lb. verbs or outrun dangling participles." What a delightful idea - writing for no one but myself without assignment or deadline, a playground of sorts. As I'd restated on my 100th post on 1/17/06:
"This blog is more like throwing personal jewelry into a black ocean - not only do I never know if the trinkets will hit bottom, be swallowed by a fish or be discovered by some wayward explorer, it is actually not even the point. The goal is getting my fingers around something internal, articulating it as a thought and flinging it outward - letting it go whether the world cares or not."
Self-Challenge: As Howard's friend, Lorne, pointed out recently, the pressure to think of something relevant and/or witty to say can be self-defeating. Every writer wants to believe they offer a unique voice to the world and some days, I am one of those cursed warriors. Other days, it's all I can do not to fling my cell phone into a snow bank and suck my thumb in the corner. Like most bloggers, I've got a folder of great post ideas that are somewhat evergreen – bits and pieces I grab from the news. Occasionally, I force it out (and it shows) but most posts these days feel pretty dang natural. Some come roaring out of me like a post-feast belch, others start with a small seed, germinate, sprout, grow and bloom over several days after much pondering, looking up to the sky, stroking my long beard and so on.
Ego (Legacy): There is a distinct sensation that writing comes naturally to me and for this, I am grateful. (If I could sing well, I'd never shut up so just be glad I got the quieter of the gifts.) Still, it is hard to keep the ravenous ego monster at bay and I lose this battle often. I had recently gotten down on myself after a few posts where I received very little feedback. I tried not to take it personal ("Um, Heather, people have lives, you know?") but failed.
Furthermore, I also receive weekly reports telling me how many visitors, page views, etc. the site receives. Readership has been a healthy three-digit number for months but all of sudden, it was down to two. Could I blame the new version of Blogger? I sure as hell did! Truth be told, I was mad at myself for losing sight of the original point. Bad, bad, bad Heather. Writing for a specific audience reaction is not the goal here; self-editing is the enemy. I am now forbidden to read these reports.
Nevertheless, I moped for several days about this and finally got my blog groove back when a colleague told me that a quiet, mild-mannered fellow in our office had become a regular reader. I hardly know the guy and yet he found something entertaining. Why anyone - let alone an acquaintance - would choose my little world over The New York Times or YouTube at any given moment is amazing to me. I remain unquestionably thrilled by this and have been riding high ever since. Also, I think my family – who read only on occasion – may find these posts endlesslessly fascinating immediately following my death in a bizarre gardening accident.
Fantasy: My dream job has always been newspaper columnist, a job I actually held for brief time. I wrote about food and restaurants for my hometown paper but ultimately, I resist sticking to one topic. I mean, I hate Dick Cheney with the white hot intensity of a thousand suns 24/7 but I only get the urge to mention once in awhile, otherwise, it's boring. I could never be a political columnist for this reason. I get distracted too easily …oh, look! A butterfly ….
Community: Strangely, this last one only just now occurred to me. When I got dumped on my ass upon arrival in
... and just like that, another long-winded post is born!