With a few blog postings now under my belt, I want to pause and reflect on the why of all this. Some people have a lot on their minds that they want to write about, and are quite prolific. They build a dedicated fan base and are motivated to provide fresh content to their readers on a regular basis. But what about those of us who are primarily writing for ourselves, and are sharing our thoughts with an almost-nonexistent audience? Despite telling myself that I was going to update this blog on a regular basis, it's been over five years since I last did. Is this because I've had nothing to say, or I've just been too busy to pause and reflect? The better question is: why do I feel the need to write at all, that is, from where did this urge originate?
I have enjoyed writing ever since my very-progressive seventh-grade English teacher had all her students keep a journal, which opened up a whole world to my impressionable young mind. I really enjoyed putting ideas and stories on paper, and I was convinced that I would become a writer when I grew up. By my junior year of high school, another influential English teacher warped my mind by turning me on to a lot of strange hippy-era literary works. Soon I was absorbing everything written by Richard Brautigan and Hunter S. Thompson, and I was handed many odd non-fiction works that told me how the history I'd learned was wrong, how completely our educational system was flawed, and how American politics had been corrupted. It was an eye-opening year, and I was forever changed. I now questioned everything, and I started to write satire and short fiction. I subscribed to Writers' Digest. I became the Features Editor in my school newspaper and contributed stories and poetry to the literary magazine. In my senior year, I wrote an apocalyptic science fiction skit that was performed in my school's theatre (and depressed the whole audience).
I craved reading and writing, so I took extra classes, and graduated high school with a total of seven years of English credits. Art was there as a sideline talent, but writing was everything to me. In my senior year, I was on the yearbook committee and, during these after-school sessions, I ended up designing the cover and some interior pages of our yearbook, which was my first real experience with creative layout and graphic design, way beyond the confines of the school newspaper's rigid column inches. Students liked my design, complimented me on it, and it felt great to get noticed for it. In their next catalog, the yearbook publishing company used my cover as an example of "an effective use of gold leaf" (or something like that), and that design went on to win a Best Yearbook Cover award. I was starting to drift away from writing at that point, as the artistic muse began to pull me toward the fine arts. I continued to write through my four years at college, but it was more often than not a term paper – not anything I'd call creative. Creating Art (with a capital A) ruled my life at that time, and the young teenage dreams of becoming a writer quickly faded.
Writing was a talent that never completely vanished from my life though. Throughout my adult career as a graphic designer, I've been called upon to write slogans for print advertisements, copy for radio ads, and descriptions of products and services for brochures. I have freelanced as a proofreader for several corporate newsletters and publications. Writing has always been a natural and easy thing for me to do; I have never thought of it as a chore; it was just a talent that came in handy once in a while. Writing has never been my main job... it was always "that extra thing I did."
And still is.
As I've gotten older and have become more reflective about life, I've started getting that urge to write again. The computer – with the blessings of onscreen editing – has made this a much more enjoyable experience than it was in the past, when I suffered many long nights with the burden of manual typewriters and correction fluid. The process of revisions was a real chore for me back then, and I always dreaded typing up that final version of a term paper. It's so much easier to write and edit documents in this brave new cut-and-paste world. There is a lot of nostalgia surrounding the manual typewriter right now, but every time I touch one, I'm reminded of why Smith Corona went out of business. It's too much work to write on one effectively, and a perfect example (in my opinion at least) where the interface gets in the way of the function. I'm sure I wouldn't be writing this now if not for computers and modern technology; certainly this blog would be seen by far fewer readers if it needed to be mimeographed and tacked onto bulletin boards throughout the world!
Luckily, armed with the latest in modern technology, the many thoughts and ideas pent up for decades in my head may have found a less-stressful mechanism for release, and I've finally started writing again - for me. The outlet for this resurgence, of course, is this blog, which I've vaguely decided will cover "past, present and future events, and my thoughts on art, music, jobs, technology, politics, stupidity, and whatever else strikes me as interesting." Where it takes me is anyone's guess. Pending some actual free time between freelancing gigs, the long-dormant writing bug might bite me again, and that teenage dream might come back with a vengeance!