For Nate's birthday. we took him to a ballgame, where, at the the end, there was a human cannonball. We were too tired to stay (and be too tired I mean it was 9:30 pm) but the image must have stuck in my mind.
Lately that's what I've been saying about my writing: that I feel like a human cannonball. Bundled up tight in my little vessel, full of intent and mission, and abilities and battle scars. But, which way to aim? What's my target?
Beyond the shoemaker's children, I often think about what, by writing, can I add to the conversation? There's just so much noise. So many influencers. So much media.
Where do I exist in the mix? How do I use my limited energy to tell the stories I need to tell? What are they?
When I think back to the nearly 20 years of my career (gulp), it is divided into two parts: the first 10 years: working as a newspaper reporter and at the UAB Cancer Center. I was deeply committed to the work of telling real stories about the human experience. It's what most journalists get into it. (That and the newsroom pizza.) The second half took another path, telling stories that were more curated, to use the overused but apt term. Lifestyle. That serves a purpose too.
There was the living done during those 20 years too. I got sick. And had some human experience, alright.
The small voice comes back and says: you will use all of this.
But how? For what?
How does the editor become the writer again? (Uh, just do it, the same way you tell all the writers to do it.)
All I know how to do is to write from the heart.
Lately, most of what I've published personally has been recovery-related. I don't see that going away. Every day I realize there's another piece of the recovery story -- particularly the intersection of our country's addiction epidemic and the language and culture around alcohol and drugs. Someone recently told him that reading my words around sobriety made him think about how much a role booze has at social events, at industry events, and to consider having something for those of us who don't partake. That's a small victory.
Is that it? Is that where I point the cannon of my personal writing?
And what about the pieces around recovery: trauma, resilience, grief? Surviving in this insane world? These subjects speak to me too. As do the lifestyle pieces travel and vintage clothing and parenting of a tween and media and pop culture.
I pray a lot about it. OK, truth: I think about it more than I pray. But this morning I lit a candle and said, "aim me. use me." It's my prayer. I am listening.