Sand in the Gears

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About what comes next

January 26th, 2012 Posted in Uncategorized

Sometimes I care about a political battle or news event or Item of Great National Debate enough to write about it, but then I stop, because I think someone has already said this better, or said its opposite more persuasively, or someone who donates money to the non-profit where I work will see it and not like it, or somebody crazy will see it and like it and then start giving money to our non-profit and then expect to have a phone call with me every day, or people in my family will see it and think I’m secretly talking about them — or ask how I have time to write so much when I haven’t called my mother since I was fifteen, or someone who believe he knows me by virtue of having traded rumors about me will write to explain that instead of writing about politics I need to work on my personal life/walk with Jesus/failed marriage, which then sets me to thinking that maybe I’m going to hell, which would be especially intolerable insofar as gossips and self-righteous Puritans are surely its chief denizens.

Or I think about how all the blog/marketing/carpet shampoo experts say you’re supposed to find a niche, a narrow crevice of a specialty for your writing, and then own that cramped corner like nobody’s business. Define a category, the marketing gurus say, and be number one in it. This mitigates against writing one day about one’s religious struggle, and the next about one’s grief, and the next about how one’s four year-old fell asleep in the clothes hamper again, and how one began to panic that he’d wandered out of the house and gotten eaten by feral cats, until one of his less-concerned brothers saw his foot poking out from under a tee-shirt and solved the Mystery of the Missing Boy.

So I’ve been thinking about what this space is for, and I figure since my name is on it, it may as well be for whatever I damn well please.

With a caveat, because of course I can’t say whatever I want here. One thing I learned the hard way last year is that however broken and fallible and selfish I can be, there are people far worse — evil, ugly, spiteful people with no qualms about using things I write to hurt me and my children.

But then that’s what fiction is for, to take the people you don’t like, change their identities, and then gleefully drive them off cliffs, or give them unmentionable diseases of their private parts, or perhaps even cause them to be eaten by feral cats, if feral cats actually eat living things, which I’m beginning to doubt, because the family of welfare cats living on my back deck seems utterly uninterested in the mice that have been finding their way into my house.

(This could be because nine year-old Eli, in charge of feeding the cats just every other day — in order to keep them lean and hungry and Cassius-like — tends to dump about a pound of food in their tray when he does feed them, as penance for the times he forgets.)

I guess what I’m saying is that I’m going to use this space more for working thoughts out than for capturing a niche in which to market my Personal Brand. Which I could probably have simply said right up front, and spared you the trouble of reading all the way through, but then that would defeat the purpose, wouldn’t it?