One of the authors on a writing web site I follow noted that she doesn’t believe in writer’s block. She says, we block because we don’t know what we want to say next.
Come the end of November, it will be two years since we killed Two-Lane Livin’ Magazine, a monthly publication we produced for a decade. When we ended the magazine, we were at the peak of our readership, reaching nearly 40,000 readers monthly with 18,000 print copies circulated around central West Virginia. We never could print enough copies.
Of course, I had a monthly column in the magazine, a continuing conversation I had with readers for ten years.
And when the magazine ended, I lost that audience and lost that conversation. For two years following, I did not know what to say. Who would I be talking to?
Perhaps I was reluctant to admit we failed the magazine. We could not rustle up enough advertising revenue to keep it alive. Perhaps I didn’t want to admit that I felt trapped by the business–its monthly deadlines, the routine of it, the box I had put around myself as a writer and career woman. I knew, for the last two years of the publication, that the magazine I had once dreamed of creating was something I didn’t want any more. The simple country Iife I had toted and promoted for ten years was feeling restrictive, limiting, and too much of a struggle.
I had hoped to create a publication that readers would love, and we did. That was the fun part. Keeping it financially viable with advertising income in an economically depressed region was a huge pain in the ass. That was no fun at all.
I did not realize until we discontinued the magazine, how much of a burden it was on us. Nor did I realize, until the deed was done, how much I would miss our readers. How much, as a writer, I needed that audience. I needed that conversation. (One-sided as it was.)
I was recently interviewed by an artist working on a project that she waited 30 years to start. We talked about how Two-Lane Livin’ started (an idea in a bubble bath) and how it ended (with phone calls to this day from readers who miss it). We talked about my graduate school writing experiences, and then she asked me, “What do you want to do with your writing now?”
And the question that’s been percolating in the back of my mind for two years finally answered: I’d like to have an audience again. Not facebook followers, not sporadic literary journals, not a book (although that’s coming). I don’t want to deal with writing as a business right now, I don’t want to scour submission guidelines, subject my work to an editor, consider marketing tactics, web site SEO, cover photos, paper stock, sales tax.
I just want to write and be read. I want to start that conversation again, between me and the world out there, whoever cares to participate. For a writer, what other goal is there but to write – and to be read?
I have been blogging off and on, for 16 years. The archives on this site alone go back to 2006. Sixteen years. Good lord. That goes back to before I was a newspaper reporter, before I was a columnist, before I was a magazine publisher, graduate student, college professor, librarian. Who knows what is in those archives? I don’t. Who knows what new will be added? What’s this blog about? I don’t know that yet either. The photos I’ve put in the page give a review of some of the main points of my recent life — porch sitting, caregiving, library life, creative play, pictures of Daisy, our beagle. This is my space for expression — I cannot predict what is to come.
Blogs, they say, should have a niche. They should use photos, SEO, keywords, hashtags, make regular entries, include external links — there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it. I may or may not adhere to those guidelines. I’m an Amazon Affiliate and have a Google Adsense account, so I might put those in play at some point, but the point here is to put the words out there, and hope folks read it.
Blogs should allow commenting… Yeah, that’s not going to happen. I’m not going to moderate comments or take crappy criticism from strangers. (I’ll post links to these entries on my facebook page and profile. You can comment there if you’d like.)
Since it already has nearly 400 subscribers, I’m also reviving my email newsletter. It was originally intended to be monthly, but I think seasonal/sporadic is a more realistic description. Highlights folks might have missed. Favorite entries, work published elsewhere. You can sign up in the form in the right-hand column–I’m preparing the fall issue to send out some time next week. You can also sign up here.
So, here we go again–writing via the blogosphere. I hope you’ll join the conversation (one-sided as it may be).