Welcome to my new blog, 55Degrees.US. This title is full of hidden meaning, but I won’t go into that right now. That’s for later. This first post is directed at me. It’s meant to help me take the first step toward what I already know about myself, but I need a starting point to which I can constantly return when the going gets tough, or as I call it, when dream fatigue sets in.
If you choose to follow along, these are the four main reasons that got me writing again and will keep me doing so.
- I have a compulsion to communicate, specifically in the form of writing. As a student I had a weird practice of writing letters. Many talked about it. I did it. I don’t know why or where it got started. I loved creating a handwritten letter, sealing and stamping the envelope and putting it in the mailbox. Karen and I courted in the days before email and we have a box full of cards, notes and letters we sent to each other over an 18-month period.
- Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat.Pray.Love has a great TED talk in which she spoke of the crippling effect of her success. She fretted over how could she ever write another book as great as that one? Her freedom came when she drew this conclusion: “I’m a writer, not a best-selling author. And writers write. So that’s what I got busy doing again.” I love this idea of operating from a position of identity rather than letting circumstances define who I am. Regardless if good or bad, success or failure, I am not my circumstances.
- I don’t think out loud. I process thoughts internally. I don’t want to say something that I will later regret, so I rehearse the ideas in my mind first. Writing lets me do that. When Karen was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2010, my first impulse was to write about it. Life suddenly changed in a moment in that hospital room and I didn’t know what hit me. I turned to the one thing that I knew. My uncertainty led me back to a certain place, and there in the company of words I would find my way through the grief. It makes sense that I’m back here again.
- A big hurdle to overcome in publishing my writing is answering the accusation, “who do you think you are?” This is a sad but common indictment, I think helped along by the celebrity culture that exists today. Every industry needs its rock stars to sell its product. Fame somehow gives approval that this person is a legitimate expert and for that reason worthy of our time and money. I have no idea if Guy Fieri is a good chef or not, but because he’s on TV and sells a lot of books, the masses therefore conclude that he must know what he’s talking about. Take all that away and get down to the essence of our stories and we’ll find there’s not that much that separates us.
- I’ve been through a lot of circumstances that can simply be labeled as personal failure. I’ve felt pain that I didn’t know existed. I’ve stared into the abyss, wondering if there was anything on the other side, and yet I know my circumstances pale in comparison to someone else’s hardships. There is always a voice that attempts to silence the story from being told, so damn that voice and write the story.
- I will add audio portions to this blog. Some in the form of stories that I find interesting and think you will too. Some of it will be music I’ve written and recorded in the past. Some will be new music that I am developing. The same points above apply to writing music. I am a musician, not a rock star, so I need to make music. Music lets me reflect and feel thoughts and ideas that words cannot express. And music can bring encouragement to others, but I must put it out there if its ever going to be heard.
Thanks for reading. Here we go.