So here’s the deal. I’m having a mid-blog-life crisis. I suspect this is normal as people hit the one year mark in their bloggy careers, but I’m also struggling with more complex issues as well. I need your advice. Here are the facts.
Since I began getting more serious about publishing my writing, I have been neglecting my blog considerably. I’m lucky to get in a post once a week. I wish this weren’t the case since it was the blog (and subsequent encouragement from family and readers) that rekindled my lifelong desire to be a Writer. It may be lunacy for me to get so caught up in this obsession at this stage of my life, and I have tried to set it aside and focus on my family and teaching, but it’s like I have been bitten by a bug. Or maybe it’s more like a nasty virus. Or perhaps a blood-sucking vampire. Anyway, until I can get this out of my system—which may involve trying really, really hard to get something published and then admitting defeat—I can’t seem to defer the dream. Darn you Langston Hughes.
I am now spending most of my free time (or in reality expensive time, as it is purchased at the cost of time spent with my children or cleaning my kitchen) writing and revising essays for publication and reading other people’s (much superior) prose for inspiration. If I do have a random thought for my blog, I just can’t seem to find the several hours it used to take me to develop and edit an entry. If only I treated my blog as I had originally intended—a place to dump stray ideas—I wouldn’t have this problem. But I expect too much and I don’t want to disappoint my few, but loyal readers.
As I submit my work (3 in the mail already!) and research submission guidelines, I am discovering that some people are bothered by “recycled” material. This means they don’t like it when people send them previously published stuff, even if it has only been “published” on a dinky little personal blog. I am also discovering that once you launch something into the electronic stratosphere that is the WWW, you can never suck it back. I deleted old posts that I have since reworked for publication but they will likely be cached and readily Googled for quite some time. At this stage, the essays I’m trying to publish and the book I’m hoping to compile both involve cannibalizing my archives. Should I just close up shop?
And most disturbing, on three occasions I have discovered my exact words have been copied without my permission elsewhere on the web. (This does not include the whole “Convergences” freak-out, where I willingly flung something I wrote into what may or may not be a dark vortex of idea theft). The other day, a neighbor came up to me in church and told me she had read something funny I wrote on the internet. I asked her how she found my blog and she said she had no idea I even had a blog. Instead, she told me of a different site (one I have never visited before) that reprinted a story of mine. She only knew it was mine because of my first name and the names of my children. This was a bit creepy and made me want to double check everything I had ever written about my neighbors. (Ironically, this one is about that particular neighbor’s nephew, but since it was my son who wound up smelling less than sweet, I decided to leave it alone).
I should be flattered by the imitation thing, and normally it wouldn’t bother me that much, but my vain delusion of Writer-hood is based on the premise that I’m writing stuff that is totally original and unique. My blog friend Michelle once told me that you’ve got to try to be the purple cow. I’m feeling a sense of urgency to get my ideas in print before someone else does. What if I’m too slow and by the time I get into the field, there are purple cows mooing all over the place?
And finally, what I really need right now is feedback on the essays I’m revising and expanding for publication. My brother (who is writing a novel) plans to create a blog where he will post one chapter at a time for family and friends to read and contribute suggestions. I might do the same. If so, it would be a restricted site to avoid the aforementioned problems of having my stuff sailing aimlessly Out There. I would, of course, give access to any Mental Tesserae readers who asked. Every time recently that anyone has reviewed my writing, they have given me suggestions that lead to big improvements. (See, I had nobody to read that last sentence but me and just look what a mess it is!)
So, if you’re still with me after my spotty current posting record and today’s little soliloquy, I would love to hear your opinions on the subject. Just so you know, I don’t think I could ever torch this whole blog; I have put too much of myself into it and besides which, Gabie thinks it’s his blog and he would surely disapprove. But maybe a hiatus? Or a makeover? Please let me know if you have any suggestions. I am, as always, in your debt.