Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Bought and Sold for Free

It got away from me somehow. That's about as best as I can say it.

Lately not just a few readers have asked me if I'm ever going to post again. One dear soul even threatened self-injury (something to do with jumping out of a single-story home window) if I didn't post again soon. I thank you all for your support and your faithfulness to my blather.

I needed some time away from this space. Because it got away from me somehow. The reason for this space, I mean. When I started writing here, it was a selfish endeavor. It was my very "Horton Hears a Who" way of screaming out amidst the chaos my life had become, and a way of asserting that I didn't die along with John.

For some reason it worked, that selfish, self-indulgent slant. Those of you who read regularly seemed to identify with that voice - something that has never failed to astound me. Although I write (here in this space, at least) for others to read (I mean, duh... it's public), mostly why I write anything at all is because I need to get shit out. I need to cast off old, dusty garments. I need to sing like nobody is listening. I need to weep and laugh all at once until there's a snot-fest on my face and not care about who sees it.

And that got away from me.

I began to pay attention to stats, to who was "following" my blog. I worried if no one left a comment. I started writing with an eye toward what my readers would want to read. Ask any writer, that's the top wrong reason to write. I even went so far, on a few occasions, to go trolling amongst my readers for topic suggestions. I got greedy and I sold out.

Yeah, you can do that even when it's "for free."

Would Jackson Pollack have painted daisies in a vase just because someone told him that's what they wanted to see? Would Man Ray have contented himself with taking pictures of cute puppies just because others mentioned liking pictures of cute puppies?  Would Hemingway have turned his pen to children's stories, or would Buddy Guy have strummed hymns without ever picking out a bluesy riff?

No real artist does what they do to satisfy others. They do it because... because shit needs to get out. Good shit and bad shit. For those of us who do creative stuff, there's a certain level of intensity to what we feel. And if that sounds snobby or selfish to those who haven't experienced it, I can't make any apologies. It's just what it is. Every gift comes with a dark twist.

Back in the day when buildings were heated by huge boilers (steam heat generators), they often had to be "dumped." Dumping meant opening a valve to let out the build-up of steam so that the boiler wouldn't rupture or erupt, thereby destroying anything in its path.

Writing, for me, is my way of dumping the boiler on my burbling mash of soul gunk. It keeps me even. So, yes, in that way it is a selfish venture. Selfish, yes, but there's no room for arrogance and ostentation. Humility, with respect to being gifted enough to create anything at all, is key.

So, I apologize. I am sorry that I lost the vision.

But I think I've got it back now.


  1. I, for one, do not see anything wrong with a writer trolling for topics amongst their tribe. It stretches your creativity and the reactions can give you input for your own experiences. So, it's not just a matter of "selling out", so to speak.
    On the other hand, I completely get what you're saying. Since I started my latest blog, I'm glad to see comments and hope that what I write has some worth to others, whether it be serious or humorous.
    But, Barb, you are far too much your own person to cater to us. Bouncing things off of us is much different than giving us what you perceive we want. What we want is YOU, undadulterated, pure in form and spirit, YOU. That's what brought us here in the first place, and what will keep us coming back.
    And just so you know, I DID jump off a curb. Twice. But since I couldn't manage to injure myself, I decided that emotional blackmail is just not the way for me....I couldn't even manage to feel sorry for MYSELF. Epic fail.

  2. I feel like there's a big difference between selfish ("gimme gimme, me me mine") and self-interest (what you do). Lately I've gotten really sick and tired of the voices (in my head and out) that tell me they're the same. They're not. When I'm selfish, nobody wants to be around me; when I'm acting in my own self-interest, I'm more "me" than at any other time, more honest, more natural, and people (at least the ones in my life) prefer that.

    So yeah, here's to having it back. Dump away, THAT'S what we want to hear.

  3. "burbling mash of soul gunk".....made me think of Barb as moonshine, white lightening, hooch. And I hear you.....somehow, in listening to others or seeking their affirmation, our own voice can get lost or weakened. I think I have found mine, too. After despairing over the silence and emptiness, the Return is quite palpable, isn't it? It just takes a bit to realize it has become silent and empty. Welcome home, Barb.


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