A writer decides what he or she will write. A writer may write for his own personal satisfaction without regard to the opinions of others. Others may go to the opposite extreme and write, not from the heart, but what they believe will earn them the most money. Neither is “right” or “wrong”, only the writer can decide what works for him, a choice between personal satisfaction or “fame and fortune”. The choice is rarely cut and dried, rarely 100% either one or the other. Instead, a writer generally compromises just as most of us do in every aspect of our lives. The writer who writes mainly for his own satisfaction, who writes with a passion, who writes about those things he most cares about, feels most strongly about, is likely the best writer of all. However, that writer may find no market for his work in his lifetime. Geoffrey Chaucer, Emily Dickenson, Franz Kafka, Sylvia Plath, Henry David Thoreau, Herman Melville, Zora Neal Hurston, and even Stieg Larsson (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) all had their major works published posthumously and fame was denied them during their lifetimes. A good writer must be true to himself, but sometimes a writer also questions why he is speaking if his voice is never heard.
For years, decades really, I wanted to be a writer. Oh how I wished I could be a writer, but I: a) did not think I was good enough, and b) did not have time. Nonetheless, the thought was never far from my mind. One day from out of the blue, a thought came into my head, a thought with a voice as loud as a clap of thunder. “The only thing stopping you from being a writer is the fact that you don’t write anything!!! A writer WRITES!!!” It was what I call a “lightbulb moment, but no, I didn’t immediately sit down and start writing. Nonetheless the voice, that simple, single sentence, kept coming back, over and over, and eventually I came to realize that “I do not have time” was nothing more than an excuse because I was afraid of the “I do not think I am good enough”, afraid of finding out that I was just another “wannabe”. And maybe that’s all true, but finally I am trying to find out. I write, as some who know me will confirm, just as I speak … off the cuff. If I think it, I say it, whether with my mouth or my fingertips. Does it work? I still have no answer for that, but a few people do read my blog, some say they like my style, so I think there may be some potential. Yes, it is only a blog (though I am concurrently at work on other projects) and there are millions of blogs out there far more popular than mine, but it is still writing. I am a writer.
Where am I going with all this? Well, one thing I have noticed when I review my daily stats is that the posts that seem to gain the most attention are those that are more humorous, more light-hearted. Then today I received a few comments from friends and followers saying they really liked my post of February 9th, Random Tidbits, and requesting that I do more of this (read “less political commentary”). My passions are history and global relations, and socio-political theory, hence my strong interest in the current political climate and also social issues around the globe. I believe that a writer is at his best when writing with a passion, and that can only happen if he is writing about those things that truly inspire him. On the other hand, I enjoy making people laugh and after all, as I mentioned before, what is the point of writing if nobody wants to read what you write? So, that said, I am going to try some re-structuring of this blog in order to accommodate both my own passions and also those of my readers. In the coming weeks, I plan to attempt to write at least two or three less serious pieces. The rest will follow more serious topics that I hope give pause for thought, such as environmental issues, social injustices, and, naturally, the political climate. I can only know what works and what doesn’t if you, my loyal readers, let me know. To that end, I am asking you to speak to me … leave comments if you love or hate a post. You will not hurt my feelings … I post almost daily on the online versions of Washington Post, CNN, Politico and Foreign Policy, and trust me, in those venues I have received every insult known to mankind! So no, you will not hurt my feelings, but you will help me to better “find my niche”, though I will nonetheless continue to write about that which inspires me. It is who I am and it is what I do.
Thank you to all who take the time to read my posts. In today’s world, time is our most valuable commodity and I truly appreciate each one of you who are willing to give a few minutes of your time to let me share a few of mine with you. And a special thanks to those who comment, either here on WordPress, on Twitter or on Facebook. I try to respond to all comments, but I am only human and occasionally miss one, so please forgive my oversight. I hope you will bear with me as I try to shift my focus slightly in order to make this a more enjoyable blog for us all!