Sunday, September 26, 2021

Hi! This is my first blog entry. I’m both happy and anxious about it. I mean “anxious” not to mean eager, but to mean causing anxiety. The plan for the blog is just to talk about things or ideas I find interesting at the moment. I may mention a good song I heard recently. I might talk about something remarkable in nature. I plan to discuss song ideas I’m playing with, but where I don’t have a complete song (or perhaps not even a partial song) written yet. This blog post turned out much longer than I expect future ones to be, but we’ll see.

I say that I am anxious about this, not because I’m afraid of sharing, or afraid of what others will think, but afraid because this involves writing. Some people really like writing. Good for them. Some people really like lima beans. I have a very difficult time stomaching either. It started in first grade when our teacher gave us a set of assignments to finish by the end of the day. I remember there being worksheets, things to color, and a writing lesson. I dreaded the writing lesson, which was copying what was on the chalkboard onto a piece of paper. I had difficulty seeing the board, so I had to sit up next to it, which I found embarrassing. But there I was, very, very slowly crafting each letter with the pencil in my left hand. I disliked this so much that I did my other work first. If I did the writing lesson first, I would not have much time at all for the coloring and worksheet assignments that were significantly more enjoyable, or at least not as much of an ordeal as the writing lesson. However, if I didn’t finish all the work, including the writing lesson, by recess, I would have to stay inside and continue doing the writing lesson instead of the joys of recess–ice cream and monkey bars! I remember my teacher right in my face during one such working recess, saying, “I told you to do your writing lesson first.” I have no idea if that is where my dread of anything involving writing arose. About seven years after those days, I actually studied calligraphy, which I really enjoy, Apparently, the copying letters onto paper thing is now fun.

Later “writing” meant putting down my own ideas on paper. I am blessed to have a father who was an English professor. Really, I feel wonderfully fortunate. However, that meant every bit of writing I shared was critiqued, sentence by sentence. I know he did it out of love, and out of the difficulty of turning off the professional side of one’s mind. The result was that l learned to properly construct sentences and to correctly use punctuation. I even love grammar now. It also meant that when I write now, I question every word, even as I am writing it. There is no such thing as free writing for me. Everything had to be planned. I was told to make an outline with lettered subsections, introduce, conclude, and make sure each idea transitions into the next. That made writing anything seem like a huge undertaking–not something one would ever consider fun.

Songwriting is different. I’ll talk about that sometime later.

Ha, ha! I just wrote a one-sentence paragraph, introducing a topic I’m not going to talk about at the time. What I rulebreaker I am!

I heard someone say that people with desk jobs who decide to explore art at mid-life often take as a first class, Art as Process. I do not know what that class is actually about, but to me it means that what one is drawing, painting, or even writing can evolve during the time of making it. It does not have to be completely pre-planned. It is actually even joyous, surprising, and sometimes even scary how the act of writing causes me to think of new things that I did not plan to write about at the beginning. I definitely did not to plan to talk about first-grade in my first blog post. I’ve even started writing something as a way to figure out which decision I want to make about whatever it is I’m contemplating.

Nonetheless, writing still feels like an assignment to me. Why am I writing this blog post today? Well, my stepson David made this website for me as a birthday present two months ago, and it’s been about six weeks since I’ve added new content. I remember him saying about a different gift years ago, “I hope this is not going to be one of those gifts that no one ever does anything with.” The truth is, I really do want to share my songs and ideas through the website. I just have to get over my dread of writing anything. My desire to share my thoughts and songs, and my desire to explore my ideas through the writing process, are why I am putting up the website. That is different from the desire to work on something at the moment. The desire to write this today comes from the feelings that I want to show David that I sincerely appreciate the gift he made for me. I don’t want this to be one of those gifts that no one ever uses.