Until you've seen a toilet back up in zero gravity, you don't know what ugly is.
- Bob Park
Epiphanies can be wonderful things, because more often than not they force you to take stock...which is where I find myself right about now. After blogging non-stop for the past eight years, I've found myself re-evaluating the what, how, and why of what it is I'm doing. What I've come to realize is that it's time for me to make some changes. Since none of y'all are going to be changing for my convenience and comfort, I'm going to have to be the one making the changes.
What I've come to understand, after a good deal of reflection and consultation with people whose opinions I value, is that I'm tired. Not of the writing, because that still remains the driving passion behind my dark, cobwebby corner of da Interweb. No, I'm tired of feeling angry all the time. I'm tired of my writing reflecting an underlying simmering rage and dissatisfaction. I'm tired of the ignorance, reaction, and name-calling I see on a daily basis...and that I too often engage in myself. More than anything, though, I'm tired of participating in the maelstrom that creates and feeds that anger and rage. I'm tired of being (and wary of being perceived as) just another angry Liberal blogger. Have I changed anyone's mind along the way...or am I really just preaching to the choir? Frankly, all of this feels like so much mental masturbation...and it's beginning to bore and frustrate me. I'm beginning to realize just how much negative energy is perpetuated in this space, and I'm feeling as if it's time to change that. Exactly how I'm going to change that is something I'm still trying to puzzle my way through, but I no longer feel as if maintaining the status quo is a viable option. If I want to continue writing- and I do- then not only is the subject matter going to have to change, but the tone and tenor of what I put forth in this space is going to have to change as well.
When I look around, there's so much anger, reaction, and vitriol swirling around. We expend so much energy talking AT one another, and yet so little actually talking TO one another. I want to figure out how to contribute something more positive than mere anger, outrage, and name-calling. I've been guilty of much of the same behavior I deplore in those who happen to live on the right side of the political spectrum. I want to determine if there's something I can contribute that falls on the side of uniting rather than dividing. I want my voice to be a more positive force than it has been. After eight years of tossing snowballs across the ideological divide, I can't say that I honestly believe I've changed anyone's mind. Indeed, I've been preaching to the choir. That isn't a bad thing, to be sure, but has it creatted anything resembling even the most minimal sort of change? It's hard to sit in front of my keyboard and honestly say that it has. Sturm und Drang may make for great drama, but it does precious little towards contributing anything that makes this world a better place to be. Anger can be good, and it certainly has it's place, but stay angry long enough and it just becomes exhausting. Now I fwant to find a way to project a more positive energy instead of feeding the flames of anger and outrage. Life is too short, and I'm not changing the world here. I can, however, impact my little corner of it...and so that's what I want to focus on.
Over the past eight years, I've (somehow, in spite of myself) managed to develop a nice little following, readers who have been willing to indulge my quirks, inconsistencies, and flights of fancy. That's both very humbling and quite astonishing. Knowing that there are people literally all over the world who read WWJD with something approaching regularity takes my breath away. I no longer have any idea how many of y'all are out there. I've long since stopped to get an accurate read on traffic, but I'm humbled that so many of you seem to think I have something to say...and so I keep trying to say it. My hope is that as I begin to grow and change y'all will come along for the ride. I plan on doing this for a good long while, and any writer wants an audience. I'm no different, and I'm grateful and flattered that y'all have stuck with me all these years. I'm excited to find out what happens now. I have no agenda or firm plans, just a desire to find a more authentic and peaceful voice and discover where that might lead me.
So what does comes next? I'm not altogether certain, though I can say that I plan to dial back on the overtly political aspects of WWJD. I think that I might just be able to focus more on issues than blowhards and demagogues; I suppose we'll find out with the passage of time if I can stay on this path. I might focus a bit more on local issues. I adore living in the Portland area, and the happiness I've found here leaves me wanting to share the passion I feel for my adopted home. This truly is "home" for me in the best sense and meaning of the word. No, it's not perfect (but, hey, no hurricanes, right?)...but it's where I feel I belong.
Part of the impetus for my restlessness is that I want to make an effort to see if I can develop my writing into something more than mere blog fodder. My dream has always been to be able to somehow make a living writing. I'm not certain that this will happen, but if I don't start asking the questions, I'll never know the answers, will I? Perhaps nothing will come of this...and if that's the case, that's OK. Not every dream is meant to come to fruition. Having said that, I know that I have a gift for stringing together complete sentences, and I want to take that as far as possible. I don't want to leave this world with the knowledge that I wasted the gift I was given.
One of the perils of being a blogger is that it's easy to live in a bubble. Direct, detailed, and honest feedback is often honest to come by, simply because of the nature of the medium. That being said, I owe a debt of gratitude to two people whose sage counsel and advice I've come to value and treasure- Sean Paul Kelley and my girlfriend, Terry. Sean Paul has been invaluable as a resource over the years, as well as an inspiration. In observing Sean Paul's successes over the years, I've come to realize that there is no reason those paths shouldn't be available to me...and so that's where I hope to head.
Terry has a wonderful facility for cutting through the boatloads of crap and distraction that are often part and parcel of my existence. Dealing with ADD means that my inability to focus often leads me astray. She frequently calls "bull---t" on me, and yet she does it in a way that leaves me willing to listen to- and truly hear- her message instead of becoming defensive. She's also a frequent and regular reader of WWJD. Her feedback, while sometimes difficult to hear, is perhaps the biggest reason I've found myself rethinking and reevaluating the how and why of my writing. There's something to be said for having someone in my life who's willing to call things what they are and challenge my preconceived notions. Terry's the closest thing I have to an editor, and the occasional reality check she provides has helped me look more critically at not only what I'm doing, but also how and why. After eight years, it feels good (though not always comfortable) to be challenged and pushed.
As always, I value the observations and feedback of my readers, so feel free to fire away in the comments if you're so inclined. My challenge will be to figure out how to maintain my edge and my voice while keeping my powder dry. I'm not going to turn this into a gardening blog, but it's times to find out what else lies withing me. Perhaps if I can figure out how to be a more positive force, I'll begin to feel better about my writing. More than anything else, I know that it's time for a change. Where that desire for change will lead me is difficult to say, but I'm excited to find out. Stay tuned....