How to Be a Writer
The small man
Builds cages for everyone
While the sage,
Who has to duck his head
When the moon is low,
Keeps dropping keys all night long
The plan for January was to blog my ass off. There’s a format for being a writer, you know, and it goes something like this: Blog, blog, doubt yourself, blog, promote, promote, hate yourself, promote, platform-build, platform-build, avoid yourself, platform-build, repeat ad nauseum, publisher-court, publisher-court, sell yourself, publisher-court, get lucky–maybe–and then what? So I posted nothing at all til mid-month.
I did it for years, and I did it well. I grew a tiny blog into a fairly popular one. It was frequently syndicated. It got agent and publisher attention. And it became my whole life, which was way too much and not nearly enough, so I quit.
But when you feel that the sliver of God that you get to carry inside your bones is the gift of words, quitting their expression is a deadly thing. For you, surely, and maybe even for someone else.
So I’ve been feeling like I need to write (a little “ought,” mostly “must”), but I haven’t known what to say. Then this morning I saw a friend’s photo of a caged bird and a key, and I was reminded of what I believe: I am supposed to be dropping keys.
But what keys? And for whom?
And just as I wondered, I saw a selfie of another friend’s little girl–a girl on the brink of becoming a woman, a girl who doubts her steps there, as I have so often done–and I had to tell her what I saw:
Dear Ella/ You have such a lovely face/ When I look at you I see the beauty/ Of childhood lingering/ Unspoiled by the world/ And bringing new joy to it.
I don’t know what I will write tomorrow or for the rest of this self-appointed, blog-my-ass-off month. But today I saw a girl who I could give a key to, and my sliver fit the lock just right.