2016, and books, and me

02Jan16

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I read Just a Geek by Wil Wheaton on the Monday after Christmas (well, yesterday and Sunday), since I wanted to return it to the library before I left town. I was struck by some weird parallels between my life and Mr. Wheaton’s, even though our lives are wildly dissimilar (for example, I was never a child actor. Or an adult actor, for that matter). I started blogging in 2001, around the same time he did, but whereas he almost immediately had hundreds of readers, the most followers I’ve ever had is 37 (over at The Annotated Sherlock). When I joined the Internet, so to speak, I was 19 (I got an email address when I was about 17, and hung out a lot in AOL chatrooms, but didn’t have a blog until a few years later), and Rule One of the Internet at the time, especially for me–ostensibly vulnerable and innocent female–was Do Not Give Away Your Real Name Because Ax Murderers Will Find You And Murder You And Your Family. So I never made an attempt to widen my blog’s audience beyond friends and family (my blog was actually set to private until very recently). And maybe it never would have found a broad audience anyway, but I basically spent the first decade of my life on the Internet successfully evading any and all attention from an audience, while Wheaton spent it building his.

I also relate, in some small way, to the regret that he wrote about; to being 30-ish years old and not knowing how to get your life to where you want it to be. I was going through my file boxes and old mail yesterday, and found a rejection slip for “Ghost Town,” a short story that I eventually self-published. The rejection note is handwritten, contains both feedback and encouragement, and an invitation to resubmit after revisions. And I didn’t appreciate that for what it was at the time. I didn’t re-submit. But now I’m grateful for that editor and the time that they took. Maybe that’s my new years resolution, to appreciate small opportunities and challenges. To remember to talk to people. To “network.” Writers like Wheaton and Jon Scalzi write about their everyday lives, and whatever comes into their heads, which is basically what I want for this blog. I don’t want to be “The Fantasy Fan blog” or have a “Mom blog” or a “food blog.” I’m not good at sticking to one subject, anyway. But I feel like I’m ten years too late for that sort of general blog to build up any sort of following. But, at the same time, I don’t know what else to do, really. So I keep writing into the void and hope that someday the void shouts back.

After I finished Just a Geek I started reading Patti Smith’s new memoir, M Train. I’m not done with it yet, but it reads like a meditation more than anything. A meditation on coffee shops, and black coffee, and on following one’s thoughts through to their natural conclusion. On how whether or not an object is sacred has nothing to do with its economic value. On the beauty that happens when you follow impulses, and love the process of a thing, rather than the results. Like when you buy a boat and put it in your back yard, and repair it yourself, but it ends up never being seaworthy so you use it to sit on and listen to baseball games over the radio. So maybe that’s my lesson for this year, too. To do things without needing the result that I foresaw at the beginning of an endeavor. Patti Smith doesn’t just write poetry. She sees poetry weaving its way in and out of life and objects and people. In her words, even watching crime dramas (something I do a lot of, too) has weight and human importance. Ms Smith seems to drift through her days, following her romantic impulses, and because she’s one of the women that I admire most on this earth, I remind myself that that’s an okay way to be. That I don’t always need to be trying to accomplish something. And that’s not a bad lesson either. Quite the opposite.

I guess when I throw those together, that’s my goal for 2016: To keep moving forward, while also feeling at peace with standing still. So, you know, totally simple.

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