Originally, I started this blog as more of an online portfolio of work that I could refer editors to when submitting work to journals. “Ooh, look what I’ve done! Publish my work, please!”
As a reporter, I spend the majority of my writing time on articles, but I did intend to get my MFA and then PhD in Creative Writing with a focus on creative nonfiction – personal essay and memoir – before, you know, having kids.
Kids kind of put an end to that. They shouldn’t have. It didn’t need to be that way. But that’s a long story. So. I’ll save it for now. You’ll learn all about my terrible decisions as we go forward in this project, I promise, so just hang in there kids!
In any case, I still get to indulge my creative nonfiction side with a weekly column and, up to a month or two ago, a Times Observer blog on the paper’s website.
But then they switched their website. I was pretty bummed when I found out that the new website didn’t support staff blogs. Honestly, I get to write every day and for that I am thankful but what I most loved about my job was the twice-a-week opportunity to develop a collection of essays in the form of blogs and columns.Being a writer without a deadline, or an editor, or anyone to whom you’re held accountable, and trying to actually get published that way?
“Uphill battle” would be the meiosis of the year.
I decided that rather than cut back to once-a-week essay writing, I’d revamp this blog and use it just as I had my Times Observer blog.
I know zero things about successful blogging. But I do know this: a good author blog, in my mind, is basically just an extended story written in installments and meandering, as Montaigne intended when he “created” the essay form of prose.
Trying to think about how to thread a collection of random thoughts and entries, which in the column is easily accomplished by deciding on monthly themes, I came to a junction with another issue with which I’d been “wrastlin’,” as I believe the kids are saying these days.
Oh, balls, this is getting long-winded. Basically, I had two problems:
- What axis upon which to position a blog, which could keep me on a relatively logical and non-aimless path (which by this point I’m sure you can see is something I desperately need to cling to), and
- I wanted to learn to read Tarot cards. Now, I’m a pretty science-loving, agnostic realist who, if held at gunpoint and instructed to “choose a religion, immediately, or I will paint the wall with your brains,” would probably choose paganism. I don’t have the ability to coordinate or sustain any longitudinal effort toward a religion, and since paganism, with its spellwriting and focus on being knowledgable on the magical properties of things and their associations to the magical properties of other things is a pretty demanding religion, I kind of just treat it as something I’d like to do but am not equipped to do subsequent to my exceedingly high score on a clinical ADHD inventory. I’ve openly sneered at all religions aside from paganism. That being said..my great-grandmother used to read witch cards and I’ve been interested in the mystical and the occult in an intellectual sense since I learned that I could become interested in things and then indulge that curiosity by reading about them. So, like, the age of five? I’ve owned the same deck of Rider-Waite cards for over a decade but never actually taken the time to learn anything about them. And, while I don’t believe that any unseen hand is choosing just the card that will reveal my fate or fortune when I lay out a spread whilst focusing intently on a question of great bearing in my life at any given moment, I do believe that the archetypal prompts the cards provide are a really great way to shift perspective. I was a Psychology major before switching to the English Department at the 11th hour, and intently fascinated by the theory of it all, but terrified by the notion of actually being given license to traipse around in another human being’s fragile mind. But looking at the cards this way, rather than as an actual legitimate divination tool – a category of things of which none actually exist, of course – I decided to go ahead and give it a go, choosing a card a day and committing to learning its meaning each morning before diving headlong into my day looking for evidence of its manifestation in my life. Real world examples of “The Devil” and “Temperace,” if you will. And I started reading Tarot blogs. Biddy Tarot became my go-to for straightforward card meanings, but I fell hard and fast for the personal essays of 78 Notes to Self, a Tarot journal by Ginny Hunt, from whom I blatantly stole the title of my own blog’s new incarnation. And this is a very long bullet point…
In any case, there I had it. A way to keep the blog moving forward in a discernible manner. But I knew that I was fickle and altogether unreliable when it comes to projects without a deadline, projects to which I am accountable to someone who holds the ability to fire me. I’m a terrible boss. So I started thinking of other ways to engage with the blog each week, and began an editorial calendar of my own. And it goes a little something like this:
Monday: Minchin Monday. I intend to digitally hoard the entirety of Tim Minchin videos available on YouTube right here on this very blog, one by one, over the course of many years, each and every Monday. If you don’t know about Tim Minchin, you need him in your life. And never fear, you can check here each Monday to find a bit more of him. In fact, I’m going to start early, with this Michin Friday special video that actually belongs in this post. It’s a clear, coherent statement of my very feelings on religion, mysticism, and hippies. And although I am more agnostic, to the point that Mr. Minchin might tell me that I am dangerously close to being one of those whose minds are so open that their brains are in danger of falling out (See: Take My Wife), I appreciate pretty much everything about this particular rant – including his adorable mascaraed face and tiny little pants – and I think it’s a good way to launch a Tarot blog in which I wish to make perfectly clear my personal belief that Tarot is not fortune telling or mystical in any way. Tarot, in my mind, is valuable only in that it can be used as a psychological tool, an interesting way of combining storytelling, problem-solving, and self-Psychology to become more aware of more ways to look at each and every event a person may experience. I suppose that if this blog had a manifesto it would start, “I will not devolve into a Storm.” I suppose I should also disclaim right now that Tim Minchin gives me lady wood. And I’m not ashamed of it at all.
Wednesday: Warren Wednesday. I’ll upload the link to my favorite story that I’ve written in the week prior. This will also encourage me to make sure I find at least one good feature-ish, human interest-y story per week. But I warn you. You may get shafted with links to, like, Commissioners’ Meetings every now and again. Because Warren is a small place. And it’s not ethical to make up news. And for that I’ll just apologize in advance.
Friday: Each Friday I will post the link to the previous week’s column. I’d just post the column itself, but it’s free to read on the paper’s website and with the state of print newspapers I think I’ll go ahead and do my part to drive traffic to the WTO website. If you want to read them as they come out, you should buy a subscription. It’s less than a dollar a day. It’s a daily newspaper written by four awesome local reporters. And two sports writers. Who are also awesome. Oops. That may have come off wrong. The sports writers are also awesome, let me be very clear. But when they speak about things like touchdowns and Derek Jeter I just have no idea what they’re saying. But they seem like very pleasant people and I suspect the language/knowledge barrier goes both ways. When I start talking about Greek epic poetry and technical terms for literary devices and how to properly use them, I’m certain the sports writers just mentally disengage as I do when I hear sports words coming out of their mouths.
That was awkward.
Okay. So that’s it. 2016 was a rough-ass year. We lost a lot of really fine old men, for some reason, and gained one really slimy gross one. If you’re unclear the one one I mean, I’m talking about the Gropenfuhrer that my country has somehow validated by bequeathing him the presidency. The one whose narcissistic rage we’ve indulged to what dangerous results I tremble to see revealed.
How about that? Now you even know that I’m a Libertarian.
To be fair, you’d have gathered as much after about three doses of the literary madness that will surely follow in the weeks to come.
But 2017 has to be better. I mean, there’s no telling. But it’s hard and sad and frightening to imagine what things might be in store to make 2017 worse than 2016. So I’m heading into it hopefully, and with intent to stay loyal to this blog. And, in so doing, to do what all creative nonfiction – all writing, really – ought to do if it’s any good at all: Tell stories and reveal truths relevant to many through that act of telling them.
I may just end up forsaking it all to eat cake and smoke Camels by February, though. So, I think, let’s just part, now, and watch it unfold together.