There’s a scene from the Coen Bros. movie O Brother, Where Art Thou? where the main characters — themselves fugitives from the law — pick up a lone hitchhiker, a young blues guitarist named Tommy Johnson (based on the famous Robert Johnson). When they ask Tommy why he was at the crossroads, he told them he sold his soul to the devil in exchange for the ability to “play this here guitar real good.” In astonishment, another character asks “for that you traded your everlasting soul?” To which Tommy replies: “Well, I wasn’t using it.”
For the past couple weeks, that’s a bit how I’ve felt about my writing.
To explain. I started this blog for a number of reasons: to connect with other writers and readers, to share what I knew, and to learn from others. Anywhere you read blogging advice, you’ll read this mantra: share your expertise. For the most part, readers don’t care what you had for lunch, or that killer hangnail, or how you’ve tried nothing and you’re all out of ideas. They want some utility. They want some meat, or they’ll just click away.
About two months ago, my life got busy. These things happen. Illness, work woes, you find out your downstairs neighbor is a vampire and next thing you know you’re schlepping it to Home Depot to get some lumber for stakes and you find out the wife donated all your good knives to Goodwill because “six knives is enough for anybody.” Whatever, woman, we’ve got a Nosferatu downstairs. Do you want to get bit? Is that your problem? Next you’ll be telling me you donated my steel collar and leather pants — no! I told you, those were for vampire hunting!
Well, anyway. The point is, I stopped writing. Neglected it entirely. And there’s only so much you can say about the subject once you’ve stopped, especially on a blog devoted to the subject. “Hello, and welcome to my writing blog of writing. Speaking of writing, who’s doing any? Not me, that’s for damn sure. So, who wants to talk about pancake syrup?”
Of course, one could argue that I could still blog about writing, even if I wasn’t doing any at the moment, and so that’s what I did. But it started to make me uncomfortable. I felt like a Mennonite trying to sell iPads. “So, here’s this thing… you probably want this. Somebody does, anyway, God knows why, but… I don’t know, it has apps, or the wi-fis, and… some birds are angry for some reason… look, just buy it so I can get out of here.”
What’s the point of dispensing advice? I wasn’t using it. I began to feel that if I wrote one more motivational article, my personality would split, and I’d turn into an evil doppelgänger of myself, flicking peanuts at the mirrors at my local pub before staggering off to throw tires at myself in a junkyard. Yes, a Superman III reference. That’s what we’re down to now.
The point is, I felt like a hypocrite. And so the blog stalled out. My presence on Twitter became notable only for its rarity, as friends and followers invoked arcane chants to summon me, like Yog-Sothoth, from the abyssal depths, so that I might live and tweet again. Mostly by calling me short or grumpy. Which is very unfair. I am not the least bit short.
I’d love to tell you that I did something romantically self-destructive during my blogging hiatus, like living on Scotch and cigarettes while I cranked out a gritty tale of a writer living on Scotch and cigarettes while he cranked out a gritty tale. Or possibly reading 50 Shades of Gray. Grey? Gray? Anyway, I did neither of those things. I mostly watched a lot of television, which is just the regular, stupid kind of self-destructive. No cachet to it.
But finally, I realized I was being foolish. I started this blog because I wanted to talk about writing, not to fulfill some holy calling. I’ve never had a desire to become a guru of any kind. Yeah, blogging is about sharing your expertise, but it’s also about sharing yourself, your thoughts, your personality. I’m not some robotic dispenser of motivational platitudes. I’m just me. And if I’m not writing, well, there’s a simple solution to that, isn’t there? We must remember that we are human, and as humans, we dream, and when we dream, we dream of money. Wait. That isn’t the message I wanted to convey at all.
In summary, this is a very long-winded way of saying I’m back. So! Speaking of writing, who’s doing any?