Friday, September 21, 2012

Following the Dream


I started this blog six years ago with the tag-line: “Making the journey from enthusiastic amateur to paid professional” It’s been a long journey, full of fits and starts, and highs and lows (though, to be frank, it was mostly lows), but if you accept that having a book contract and making a modest (here’s another one of those lows) monthly income from writing qualities as being a “paid professional” then I would argue that I have arrived.

Yes, it’s true: I am living the dream. Six years ago I was just another guy with a laptop (actually I didn’t even have a laptop back then) and a head full of hopes. Now I’m a guy with a novel coming out and enough dosh rolling in each month to buy me a nice meal at McDonalds (super-size, no less; ooh, look at me!). But the dream, as dreams should, has grown, and now I’m looking forward to having two novels out, and signing a bigger contract, and having dinner at a Harvester. The journey didn’t end with a paycheck (or a direct deposit into my PayPal account); it is just beginning. But my rambling about writing has pretty much fulfilled its purpose.

All of this is simply a preamble to saying I really need to stop this blog. I won’t bore you with my reasons; most reasons are cherry-picked to support decisions that have already been made so I rarely trust them, especially my own. But I do trust the squiggy feeling I get in my gut every time I think about putting a bullet through the back of The Life of Writing’s bloggy head: if you fear losing something that badly, then it’s time to ask yourself why you are hanging on to it. The first step is admitting you have a problem.

At the top of my blog template (that’s the default document I use for blog posts; I’m not OCD for nothing, you know) I have the words “Inform, Entertain, Connect” centered in bold, red letters to remind me that writing a blog post is not about me, it’s supposed to be about you, and giving you something in exchange for the time you spend here. In my view, I am not doing enough.

I would love to have a great writing blog, really, I would, but I do not consider myself a good enough writer to be handing out advice, or savvy enough to impress you with innovative methods for lightening your writing drudgery. At best, I can be looked upon as a cautionary example. But this doesn’t bother me; not all of us can be mentors, and there are some very good writing blogs out there. Read them for inspiration, education and topic-appropriate entertainment; go on, it will do you good.

The bottom line is, this never was—nor was it ever meant to be—my primary blog. I never anticipated it going on for so long, but then I actually gained a following and I felt obligated to continue. Granted, it’s not a huge following, but I still feel responsible for misleading you all; I mean, you could be reading Madam Bovary, or Moby Dick, or even Strunk and White’s Elements of Style, but instead you’re reading me. That’s a heavy burden.

In closing, I wish you all luck, and encourage you to follow me on Postcards From Across the Pond: it’s not only more entertaining, it’s also trustworthy—believe me, I know more about being an expat than I do about writing.