August 18, 2016
Dear subscribers and readers:
This is a love letter. Whether you’re a subscriber or someone who has popped in occasionally to read what the heck I’m going on about, I love that you’ve made the choice to read and reflect on my musings. Thank you so much. This is also a “Dear John” letter. After writing the equivalent of three novels, I’ve decided – and not without considerable thought and angst – to hit the pause button on Trace of Whimsy.
I’ve written 187 posts over the past four years. More than 200,000 words (for reference, a typical novel runs 60,000 – 80,000 words). When I launched Trace of Whimsy I had no idea where it would take me or who might read my stories. One by one, I gathered a small and loyal following of subscribers. Every time I received a notification that someone had signed up for my blog, a surge of gratitude and joy filled my being. Please know that every one of you was responsible for making my day at least once and by extension, you provided an encouraging nudge to keep me pecking at the keys.
Good writing gives me goosebumps. I yelp when I read a delicious sentence or stumble upon a flawless series of words that possess the power to transform thought and emotion. For the writer, there’s a huge difference between almost the right word and the perfect word. As someone who has spent her entire life as a communicator (vocationally) and as a blogger (avocationally), I am constantly chasing this holy grail of writing. I can tell you it’s both seductive – and maddeningly elusive. Ernest Hemingway nails it: “We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.” He also said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
My blog, Trace of Whimsy, has given me the most extraordinary forum to bleed and has released my inner muse, who has blissfully frolicked in a huge, messy writing sandbox. When I set out to compose a blog I really never know where the story will take me; I admit I am not that disciplined. I usually have a topic in mind when I start, but as the letters, words and sentences mount, the story can easily dogleg left or right. Funny can turn somber, gravity can give way to wit. And too often, I lose interest in the topic as the narrative takes shape so I’ll either abandon the blog altogether or float along for the ride and see where the next bend in the river takes me.
Mostly, writing just makes me happy. It feeds my soul. Readers have regularly commented on how prolific I am: I post three or four blogs a month. They wonder how I find the time. My answer is always the same: we all find time to do the things we love (and if we don’t, we should make the time). I can no more ignore the urge to write than the musician can disregard the siren call of their instrument or the climber the mountain. I’m paraphrasing someone here, but the itch to write can only be cured by the scratching of a pen. As much as I would love to find a way to monetize my hobby (i.e. feed the soul AND feed the family), Trace of Whimsy hasn’t been about fame or fortune; it has been about exploring the limits of language and sharing my stories.
I have many more stories to tell but how I tell them is about to change. My gut, my heart and my instincts had a meeting and unanimously decided that I should step away from my blog. Temporarily. Stephen King – author of 55 (!) novels – offers a bounty of writing advice in his book, “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.” At this juncture, I am drawn to this insight: “Let’s get one thing clear right now, shall we? There is no Idea Dump, no Story Central, no Island of the Buried Bestsellers; good story ideas seem to come quite literally from nowhere, sailing at you right out of the empty sky: two previously unrelated ideas come together and make something new under the sun. Your job isn’t to find these ideas but to recognize them when they show up.”
For now, I’ll keep my eyes on that empty sky and hope I’m self-aware enough to spot those ideas when they reveal themselves. I am excited to discover what will scratch the writing itch next.
Thank you to all my readers for your faith, encouragement, cheers (and yes, occasional jeers). You’ve been my fuel.
I’ll be back. Meantime, go well, be kind and step boldly outside your comfort zone.
Some of my and your favourite blog posts:
When baby-making takes three
Fridays with Fitz
“Belt Man,” aka Bad Halloween Mom
Enduring gifts from my dad
Mom and Rick Hansen
The family introvert doesn’t shout to be heard
Me and my sister
Shopping for a bathing suit
Shopping for a bra
Menopausal muffin top
Just for fun
Zip-lining in Mexico
On trying to be hip
Don’t ask me to bring the appies!
Online dating disasters
Shooting the breeze with Erma Bombeck
Everyone is just so busy
Driven to distraction
You’re sitting in a chair in the sky
Gratitude to a mentor
Lessons in leadership
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