When LiveJournal was all the rage, I had a blog there to practice my writing and editing. My goal was to post daily for a year, and I succeeded. I learned a ton about my writing, and while I don’t have an archive of the contents (thank fuck), I do know it was a great exercise in self-expression.
That, however, was about twenty years ago. I’ve not purposefully practiced writing in a long time. I’ve had multiple blogs since then, but the focus has varied from food (who remembers Foodiku?) to current events to my life.
As I look at what I’ve written in this blog so far, not much has changed. Obviously, I still have the food focus, and I’m still blathering on about current events and my life. I just have a blog because, frankly, I need one.
“A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity.”Franz Kafka
My brain stops functioning properly if I’m not writing. Even if I write for myself, it’s not enough. I need an audience. I’m sure there are reasons why . . . I’m a Leo who likes to be the center of attention, I’m spoiled, I’m always seeking approval . . . I mean who’s counting, really? But I feel more tethered to the world when I write knowing others are reading.
My struggle as someone trying to build a writing career is niche. In my heart, I can’t be forced into a niche. That was the idea behind Whole Damn Woman, which started as DSM Food Lover. When I dared venture into politics, someone told me to stick to food. So, I did what I always do when told not to do something: I did it. I didn’t dub myself a “professional contrarian” for nothing. That was literally the point behind the word “whole.”
As a sociologist, an ADHDer, and a
proud navel-gazer creative nonfiction writer, sticking with one topic is unnatural. If I wrote about food every day for a year, you’d find me never wanting to look at a morsel again. Everything connects to everything, so looking at one topic for everything makes no sense to me. The world is too big for such a narrow lens.
Yet most business advice suggests niching down. I tried. I tried so many times. It’s just not me. I’ve been accused of being all over the place. One person berated me for being inconsistent, for being happy-go-lucky one day and hopelessly depressed the next.
I thought I was simply being human.
This, however, remains a should that gives me fits. You might call it a “shitty should.” Whole Damn Woman served her purpose, yo.
I keep trying to find a way to focus this blog. My brain says, “Just make it about food. Or bodies! You keep writing about bodies!” And I’m like, yeah, but what if I want to share what I learned about trying to run my first business? Is that going too far off topic? Will people read it? Will I be told once more to stick to one thing?
I want my response to be “who gives a fuck,” but I’m not there yet. I mean I’m still gonna write whatever, but that shoulding voice in my head hasn’t shut up yet, and I’d like to silence it.
That’s where my friends and colleagues come in handy. This morning in a monthly creator’s group, they reminded me that writing about whatever comes to me is valid. It’s not like this is my fiction writing or the nonfiction stuff I do. This is my space to do what I want. I’m beholden to no one but me.
Beyond that, there’s nothing wrong with going niche-less. Several months back, that same group came up with a metaphor about my former business being a willow tree. I liked the idea so much that I even commissioned an artist draw me a willow.
But it’s not the business that’s the tree. It’s me. My self-concept is the trunk, my interests are the branches, and my advocacy and contrarianism are the roots.
This metaphor is particularly funny to me because a friend once called me The Lorax. I’m also allergic to a shit ton of different tree pollens. My relationship with trees is unrequited love, which is the story of my life and a post for another day.
Anyway. That’s the point. I’m the niche. Or the niche is me.
What makes me worth dedicating a whole blog to my experiences and take on the world? Someone once asked me that too. Why was my story worth reading?
Instead of defaulting to assuming we need to prove our worth, we could assume everyone has worthwhile stories to tell. Instead of ragging on people for being influencers, creators, or for making themselves a brand, we could be happy that people are using capitalism in a way that celebrates the self. Most capitalist shit is out to fix us, so what’s wrong with using that same system to say, “I’m not broken”?
I’ve always been a fan of self-awareness. I don’t see anything wrong with putting ourselves out there, sharing what we’ve picked up from being human, and hopefully enhancing others’ lives with our words. Shit, that was the title of my graduate thesis, Creative Nonfiction: A Genre of Human Experience.
Like I said, not much has changed.
My brain has a lot of thoughts, and I can’t be the only one who wonders if said thoughts could be interesting or useful to others. My brain likes saying, “Hey, what do you think of this shit, fellow humans?”
“How do I know what I think until I see what I say?”E.M. Forster
Though I didn’t realize it until just now, I think that’s why I write.
This blog and my writing in general are my ways of celebrating what my brain can do while it can still do it. Writing is my way of practicing gratitude that I’m here, I’m alive, my brain functions, I am unique, I have a gift for putting words on a page, and I can still improve that gift.
What better way to love myself than putting at least 500 words on a page every day?
>>This is part of my project to write at least 500 words a day throughout the rest of the 2023.<<