As I start to dose up on my own advice about the direction and "eventual disposition" (love that phrase) of this blog (such advice featured here and here on the Outdoor Blogger Network), there are a few important items I feel like I need to resolve. Whether they're enigmatic because I can playfully bat them around without coming to a conclusion, or whether they are old, hardened cysts that I can't quite ever separate from the surrounding tissue, I don't know. One of these unresolved issues is simply: Am I a real writer? And if not, do I intend to become one?
This, of course, is not a unique conundrum. Erin Block wrote about it beautifully. Alex Kain, significantly less beautifully, but then again, bouncy, light prose is quite the opposite of his intent or interest. Alex did me the favor of invoking one of my favorite Hemingway quotes:
There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.
That being said, I most thoroughly enjoyed Patrick Konoske's response to Alex, found here. Heh heh.
the description of a pronounced mental illness.
To hell with all of it. Writing is just something I do - it's something I have done since I was 14. And unfortunately (just being honest), no amount of encouragement or discouragement from others really seems to impact my ability or need to put my thoughts on paper (or screen). I write a lot of proposals and technical reports for work, so the exercise of writing is not a daunting obstacle by any means - my first "paid" writing was a wildlife management plan for an Army base, which I completed in 1996. Of course, that's a very different type of writing than what I feature on River Mud. Let's be clear - River Mud is a compendum of outdoor thoughts, stories, and images glued together by insomnia and ADHD. Wait. There must be a better way to state that....hmmm......
As I write and delete this post, a paragraph at a time, only to re-write it almost identically, I have to force myself to come back to the central question: Am I a writer? As I mentioned above, if you were to google search, "What defines a writer?" the search results will make you want to wrap your lips around a loaded pistol with no mechanical safety, and dance a tiny, insane jig until the inevitable conclusion of that exercise is realized. Some honest thoughts, though:
- Being a writer, I think, is a mental or spiritual state that may or may not persist in a person once it surfaces within their consciousness. It does not necessarily require that any talent is involved, just that the process and desire can't be completely turned on or off at will.
- Being "someone who writes" (as opposed to a writer) is a task oriented exercise, at which a person may be talented - because at some point, if they are not talented, they are likely to stop writing. In fact, I'd argue that there are larger numbers of talented "people who write" in the world than talented "real writers." What's the difference to the reader? Probably none.
- Both of the above can involve honest struggles to write, write well, and write often.
- Converting a mental or emotional chain of thoughts, words, images, and events into any written form is by nature a bastardization. You can attempt all of the "raw honesty" you want, but you'll probably find that at some level, you are limited in expression by the medium, the English language (or any language), and the manner in which you've chosen to structure your written words (i.e. anything that does not look like stream of consciousness rambling - ever try to read Kerouac's Big Sur?).
I am a writer. River Mud, even in its annals of deleted posts and half-deleted "working articles", is a repository for a huge variety of wanted and unwanted thoughts that want to be written for one reason or another. The most heady, reflective writing here often comes at the worst times, when I have a million more important things to do. That's often at 2:30am, when I'm unable to sleep and facing an 8am meeting, and suddenly this blog becomes an exorcist. And that's okay.
For fishing and hunting reports, this is just a repository for my memories, because I tend to lose them. As I've written before, I've been blessed with a life full of amazing outdoor experiences. So blessed that those experiences and special moments start to fade together. I've hoped from the inception of this blog that writing it all down might prevent that. I think it's been partially successful, and I think that on its own merits, it's a defensible reason to write, or to want to write.
I am a writer. This is my tool. I owe it to myself to become better, stronger, and more efficient at using this tool. But knowing that, and striving for that, certainly doesn't make me a non-writer. As I start to look in detail at why this blog exists, and why I've kept pestering with it for five years, I want to keep my reality - and my goals - in mind.