Where did that come from?

When I first began this blog one of things that often came up was where stories come from. So many interesting ideas and theories were proposed. Too many to name, but things as simple as observation and as complex as genetic memory came up. Lately, it’s been on my mind again–maybe because I read this post here, by Pat–so I thought I’d bring it up, have a little fun!

One of things one of us mentioned was along the lines of this: that stories are threads out there, threads that we walk into without even realizing. I kind of imagine them like dandelion fluff, exploding, floating and landing and germinating in an endless cycle.

Many many agreed with this feeling. Stories, people, places, they just pop into our head and demand to be written. The problem is most of the time we need to ignore these stories due to time constraints. We pick and choose, listening to the strongest tale, the one that only we can tell, and let the others drift away for someone else to grab.

So, last night after I did my 30 minutes of editing, I watched Big Bang Theory–laughed–said goodnight to hubby and went to bed. I can’t fall asleep without reading, so I read the latest silliness (more on that another day) I have downloaded and fell asleep after reading this: One of the MC’s husband was shot and killed in an armed robbery at a corner store. The story was given to us by a neighbor explaining that the only person she knows who was ever killed was the father of X who goes to preschool with her son.

This morning my son comes to me and says he had a bad dream in the night. He’s still young, his nightmares usually involve people breaking his Lego and whatnot. I asked him to tell me about it. He said this: I was in the grocery store with dad and there was a robber and he started to shoot and because I was holding dad’s hand he got shot instead of me.

So there you have it folks.

Are stories floating around out there waiting for us to grab them?

 

An empty crowd

We are surrounded by a crowd. I have always thought a team would huddle prior to a match–but there is no huddling here. There is a cheering, roaring, mass of people, singing for themselves and each other. There is an energy in the air that sparkles like lighting, fierce, determined to strike. There is an announcer who breaks in on the loudspeaker, and a hush descends. But it’s not a true silence, there can be no stillness here.

The swimmers line up, the youngest girls first; heat one begins with a shrill. And the yelling resumes. The cheering. I am shocked when it’s my son’s turn and I’m kneeling at the feet of the timekeepers shouting his name as loudly as I can. He reaches the edge of the pool and knows he’s not first–he came second and he’s unhappy, but he’s clapped on the back too many times to count, given high fives, and told what a good job he did. A minute later he’s smiling, already eager for the following swim meet a week later.

This is new for me: This is the first summer any of my children have joined a team. I was never part of a team for long; I played right forward in inter-city soccer when I was a kid, but I don’t remember it being long-lived–and more importantly I don’t remember this type of team spirit. When I trained professionally with a dance troupe there was no cheering, no unification among us. As an adult when I began to play a musical instrument there was no team.

Today a professional violinist who just came back from touring in Poland expressed how unified the orchestra is over there. How they cheer each other on before each show, how the crowd surrounds them at the end of each concert demanding autographs. She expressed to me how gratifying it is, how encouraging it is, to know that others treasure your art.

Writers, painters, illustrators, musicians, we do it alone. We have no crowd, no one cheering us. Most of our work is solitary, often times behind a closed a door, always behind a metaphorical one.

And yet, we need this gratification do we not?

Last week, Linda posted about this very topic in her post, Writing in a Bubble. When a few days later I was at my son’s swim meet and I saw the effect such cheerleading had on all the kids I was stunned. And I thought–how we do it all alone? How do we keep writing if we don’t have anyone behind us, cheering us on.

Yes, there is the gratification in the release, the voices that don’t stop shouting until we write them down, the stories that become so real to us we want to inhabit them all the time. But, it’s not always like that. There is work. Years of it. And most of us do it alone.

A few weeks back I was at a local coffee shop and a painter was hanging up her work. She told me she’d never had a vernissage, never joined a group, never put her work on display anywhere. And she’d been painting for her greater than thirty years. I wondered how in all that time she didn’t have a need to share what she created.

I know that as a writer, I am encouraged when others read my work, when I’m caught totally off guard by someone approaching me and saying they read X by me and loved it, or totally related to it. It feels good. It feels like I’ve connected with the universe in some small way, but in a way big enough to satisfy me. But most of the time that doesn’t happen. Most of what I write will never be read at all.

I’m left wondering, how do we as writers and artists, keep going at all alone, with only ourselves as our very own cheerleader?

What’s it all about, this blogging stuff?

While I’ve been away from the blogging world this summer I’ve noticed that people seem to be blogging a lot less (at least in the writer’s circle). Friends who posted ritually are now posting erratically or a lot less. I’ve been thinking about this, wondering why, and at the same time wondering what brings me back to my own blog after my hiatus.

We all seem to use our blog differently. I’ve noticed some use theirs as a personal journal, others as log book to chart their work and progress, or as a reference source providing valuable information to other writers, and others as a chit-chat session (I think I fall mainly into this group, but of course cross over at times).

At the moment I’m working, writing every spare chance I have, and creating space to write even when it’s not apparent. And it feels great. I think this is the most I’ve poured myself into my work since I began writing.

Why blog? I ask myself this question. Why take the time away from work to write posts, to read posts, to comment? It’s not because I’m gathering a huge following to market myself with. Maybe this should be the answer, but it’s certainly not the case at all. The answer to why I’m drawn back to blogging is the sharing of experience. It’s almost the same reason that I read and write. To share ideas, to explore thoughts, to see into people’s minds. Sounds kind of scary and intimidating when put that way, but that’s the truth of it. Plus, talking about writing leads to better writing.

What about you – why do you blog, and how do you use your blog?