Halfway! I have taken up various writing challenges before. In 2011 I set out to write a series of posts on the release dates of the many, many (so MANY) fantastic albums that were released in 1991. I wrote a big introductory post talking about the Smashing Pumpkins Gish, Pearl Jam Ten, Nirvana Nevermind, Red Hot Chili Peppers Blood Sugar Sex Magik, A Tribe Called Quest The Low End Theory, Ice Cube Death Certificate, U2 Achtung Baby, Guns N’ Roses Use Your Illusion, the beginning of the end for mainstream big stadium rock and the birth of Lollapalooza.
I wrote one post on R.E.M.’s amazing album Out of Time. Then I threw in the towel.
I have set personal writing goals many times: journal everyday, write a new poem a week, a month. It sticks for a time. Then Something comes up, life gets busy or a week goes by and the muse doesn’t visit. Then I take an overly long break.
The break is never a respite. I need to write. I just do. There are things on the inside I have to get out. There are stories begging to be told. It is a gift. And a curse. It is a passion. And it is a discipline. On the discipline front, I have done a lot of self-evaluation and found myself lacking. That used to just create an even greater wedge between me and the words. There have been periods of months, whole seasons of life where the pen did not touch the page. There was not one key stroke for anything other than a Facebook post. But I’ll say it again, guilt – in all things big and small – produces a sick cycle of repeating the undesired behavior. So no more.
I have been, for some time, working on a memoir. The access point is my slow walking away from the church pulpit to the open mic at the corner bar. It is a reflection on community: the good and the bad to be found in the “sacred” and the secular. And from that vantage point I look back on some of the happiest and some of the most painful moments of childhood, adolescence, marriage, divorce and fatherhood.
I have one great introductory chapter, an outline of the rest and a book proposal that has been on my pc for over a year. But I don’t want to read a writer who doesn’t read or practice his craft, even if he or she has “the gift.” I figure others don’t either. So there are three books and a journal on my night stand, getting more use than they have in years. An there is this.
I started keeping a blog in September of 2005. It was on the one year anniversary of my mother’s passing. I was determined to start something meaningful. This past January, I copied all the poems, religious diatribes, cries for help and late night philosophical BS into Word documents and deleted every post before June 26, 2015. Heroes. That is where I finally found my voice as a writer, finally began telling the truth that had been filling up the pages of my journals for decades, shared quietly with close friends over coffee or recklessly in the mixed company of loved ones and strangers over beer.
Over the last year & half I have been racing to fill up my most recent journal like a madman. I have had some important sprints here on the old blog. But far and few in between. With this – this 40 day exercise – I am finally jogging at a steady pace. I am finally readying myself for the marathon that is coming. I can not really remember a time when I didn’t write. But once upon a time I was inconsistent, sometimes lazy and very, very afraid. Now I am committed to writing my words on the face of today. Come what may…