Today is my blog’s first birthday. It’s also my thirty-eighth birthday. It’s also my nephew Liam’s second birthday. I started the day off right eating breakfast at the Deluxe Town Diner with him and a few other great people, and then we struck a birthday buddies pose in front of these trash cans. I think it’s fair to say that both Liam and I have learned a lot this past year.
When I wrote that first blog entry, I had no idea what kind of year I was headed into, and it’s turned out to be one of my best. It even has a theme: the year I stopped allowing my fear of creating something bad to paralyze me.
Exhibit A: I started a blog, even though there are many people better qualified to write about all the things I write about. I’d been meaning to start a blog for ten years.
Exhibit B: I started writing the novel I was excited about writing instead of the novel it would have been more sensible to write. The one I’m writing is about musicians, which I knew had the potential pitfall of not being able to convey what it needed to convey about music. I knew this problem might be impossible to solve. I’m not at all sure I’ve solved it, but Andrew and I have been creative about trying to, by…
Exhibit C: …writing songs together. For years we had all the tools and skills we needed to write songs but were afraid they wouldn’t be good. This year we let go of that out of necessity. I realized I wouldn’t be able to write the novel I wanted to write without writing songs to go in it. I asked Andrew to help me and we plowed forward. Our songs are not perfect but I’m proud of them and we’re getting better. We try ideas that don’t work out. No one ever has to hear those, though I applaud Colin Meloy for making the worst song he’s ever written part of his act. Maybe someday I’ll put the voice memos I send to Andrew with song ideas up here, but they’re pretty embarrassing, so today isn’t that day.
Exhibit D: Instead of sending something that had been published or at least heavily revised as my Sustainable Arts Foundation portfolio, I went all in on the new project, sending the first 25 pages of the novel I’d only written 50 pages of at the time. They were excited about it, too, and they gave me an award, which has allowed me to buy more child care so I can work on the novel more.
Exhibit E: I’ve written over 300 pages of this novel in about nine months. I push through even when I know I’m writing a scene that’s not coming out right. I’m letting it be imperfect until I can’t stand it anymore, pushing myself to go further before I go back to fix things. It took me at least five years to write my last novel, which I’ve decided not to work on anymore. That was too long. My excitement waned. I know I have a lot of revision ahead of me for this one, but that’s okay.
Exhibit F: I signed up for adult ed guitar classes. My mom bought me an acoustic guitar as a high school graduation present in 1995. I don’t think I’ve ever received a more thoughtful gift, but I didn’t make it very far back then. It hurt my fingers. I wasn’t good at it right away. It seemed kind of hopeless. When I was twenty, I met Andrew. He’s a beautiful pianist and at around the time I met him, he started picking up the guitar. In my memory, he was good at it right away. He assures me he was terrible. In the intervening years, he’s also taught himself to play bass and ukulele. He’s drifted from guitar, but he’s still miles ahead of me. Over the years I’ve picked up mine a few times, but it’s always seemed a bit pointless. I would never catch up to Andrew. This year, since we began writing songs, I’ve realized it would be useful if I could work on some ideas on my own. I’ve often wished I’d stuck with it when I was eighteen. Think of how good I’d be now! Well, I didn’t and I’m not. It’s dorky as heck to take adult ed guitar but I don’t care. I’ve had two classes and I’m ditching tonight’s in favor of birthday dinner out. I practice most days for the recommended twenty minutes or more, and I’ve already formed the callouses I never formed as a teenager. Andrew assures me I’m improving, though my fingers are slow to move to new chords. I’ll never catch up to him but I don’t doubt that sometime this year I’ll be able to accompany myself singing a song I wrote or cowrote. I’m looking forward to it. I’m looking forward to a lot of things in my new year.
Exhibit G: Even now, I’m wondering if this post is too navel-gazing. It’s more than a little self-congratulatory, but I put it up anyway. I can do that because a year ago I started my very own blog.