I was in my twenties the first time I got paid for my writing. I had submitted a poem (or poems?) somewhere and it (or they) were accepted for publication. I don’t remember what I submitted or who accepted them. What I do remember is receiving a cheque in the mail and using it to get my daughter’s ears pierced. I can’t believe that the writing I submitted is lost to my memory, but those were challenging times.
Another time, years later, I won a writing contest and received a cheque (actually it was a check, as it came from the U.S.). I was so proud of it that I kept it on my desk for ages until the contest coordinator contacted me asking me to cash it because the outstanding nature of it was messing up their accounting. I remember that one; it was called A Face in the Mirror.
Lately, I’ve been wondering if I’ve said all I have to say. I’ve thought about giving up on writing in favour of—what?—I don’t know. Nothing has been a constant in my life, like writing. Yesterday, I sat at a table in the library thinking about this and tapping out words on my MacBook. I realized it’s not writing that’s challenging me as much as it is the self-imposed pressure to do more. To be more.
At this time, I have no intention of writing another book. I have no desire to find a niche and write essays (though at one time I thought I would). I just want to write for the sake of writing and, often, for the benefit of no one but me. Is that selfish? Or wrong? Does everything have to be a commodity these days? What’s wrong with sequestering myself in my office or at a cozy spot at the library and playing with words that no one else will read?
This morning, I pulled down a box from the top shelf corner of the closet in my office that contains pages upon pages of poetry and stories I wrote when I was younger. I read semi-autobiographical pieces that disturbed me as I remembered what my younger self believed was okay, and other things I thought I’d be able to pick up and do something with. Most of it was junk, to be honest, but I remember how it felt to let words flow uninhibited and unedited through me and onto the keys of my typewriter or, later, a keyboard—and how grounded I felt as I organized and edited and owned my truth via words on scraps of paper.
A shift is happening, but I will continue to write. I have to. It’s a huge part of who I am. And I’m not leaving this space anytime soon. Blogging helped me find my voice in ways I may not have otherwise; I’ve made valued connections through it. Social media platforms will come and go but a cyberhome to call my own is something I treasure. I’m not leaving. What I share here may change (one only needs to look back in the archives to see how the tone here has ebbed and flowed over the years), but I’m not going anywhere other than to my private journal which, right now, lives in my Day One app. I’m dabbling with poetry there now and having the best time.