It's been a desert for a while. Truth be known I haven't figured out this writing thing--writing for a living, writing blog posts, writing a book, writing festivals, two-page prompts, blogging conferences, teaching writing, correcting papers. I've only got so many words in me before I feel like the well is dry. The story that is my life continues, but admittedly I've left you out of it, drawing back the curtain here and there, revealing only a peek.
From the very beginning of the blog I've struggled with what it is, how to make it one thing when I'm so many. Is it a dog blog, a memoir, a site to sell my art, promote my photography, share my writing? "A site for lovers of pugs, small dogs, writing, art and photography is a mouthful" and is it accurate? My web designers listened to me describe myself and came up with it, but sometimes I drown in its complexity, suffocate to put on the straight jacket and be only one thing. Alternatively, exhausting myself in trying to be all at once. Nobody knows who they are starting out, of course, we all change and grow, but the very fact I rely on web designers, on others makes me hesitant to experiment--it comes with a cost.
Have you figured out this isn't just about the blog yet? You won't violate your family in becoming more of you a counselor once told me. It's hard to figure out who you are when you are trying to be all things to all people. It's hard to be who you are when you confine yourself to someone's singular vision of you.
As recently as last week I lied to my best friend about my then upcoming trip to Las Vegas. True, I was sick and wasn't sure I was going, wasn't sure I could spare the time away, wasn't even sure if it was something I even wanted to do or if it was something I craved. How does a person not know that? How do you explain all that to a friend when she innocently asks "I heard you might be away this week?" She wouldn't be mad, but there are those in my life who might or might offer their unsolicited judgment. Where does she get the time or the money to do that, I imagine them saying, sometimes even hear it to my face, by people with more time and money than I'll ever have. But instead of telling them to f*** off, I tell her no, I don't think so. I try to become a smaller target, ask permission, lie, cover up even as one resilient, brilliant part of myself struggles like a flickering lightbulb to shine.
I go to Vegas and fess up to her at least. I go to Blogpaws where people have these neat niche blogs about dogs and cats and even rodents of unusual size (it's an actual organization) and listen as they talk about securing sponsors who will indeed seek out their blogs because they are easy to comprehend and digest. They have their elevator pitch in place-we work to promote pet heath, we rescue canaries, we write from the point of view of our cats.
I go to writers festivals and people share their stories of domestic abuse, incest, a year spent with pirates. I'm writing about my pugs and their breeder, I say and worry I am no longer taken seriously. Should I send my writing students and my editors to my blog? Is this revealing too much of myself?
You shouldn't care what other people think, but what if you're not sure what you think? Do you know you've been talking about Blogpaws since you came back last year, my mother says, using this as proof that I want to go. Maybe that's because I've been trying to decide I argue. It's another lie, I do know what I think, but I say it in such a tiny, quiet voice it's hard to hear.
The problem's not the blog or even figuring out who I am. It’s learning how to be me—the all-over-the-place, many things at once, always moving, always changing, totality of me without apologizing. It’s learning that I don’t have to have all the i’s dotted, the t’s crossed and the curtains hung in place just so before moving forward, before sharing who I am with the world.
That same friend‑the one I lied to, she reminded me of the poem I wrote and shared in the neighboring town’s month-long celebration of poetry. In it I write about my struggle as a photographer to take in the whole scene – “Decide what it is you are trying to say,” a photographer suggests, “with a nod and a period as if that settles the matter.”
“It doesn’t,” I write. “The story pretty much tells itself.” I guess that’s it. I can pre-package and assemble, rearrange and try to put it all in place and just like I return to the struggle, the answer is always the same. Me and my blog? Me and my story? Just like all of you, we’re more than one thing and who we really are always comes to the surface.
So what does this mean? For now, I hope to expand and rearrange the blog a bit, continue tweaking it to help me tell the story in a way that I feel satisfied. But, it also means I’m going to try to be more content with what’s here—not concentrating on the window dressing as much as the content. I’m gonna try to get back to updating you and sharing with you more. I’m going to try to make peace with the fact that it does no good to suck in my gut. I gotta keep letting it all hang out and be all of who I am. This is my story after all.