Paying Attention

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I am a sucker for library events.

They are usually free, there’s usually food, and there’s usually a good discussion. When my friend, Erin, asked me if I wanted to go to a reading of A Homemade Life with author Molly Wizenberg, I said yes and all the things that are usually true about library events were true in this case.

Molly is a blogger and author of two books. She bakes autobiography into her food musings and recipes in a way that feels, well… filling. She’s just real. The ordinary, wonderful and terrible things that happen to her, happen to a lot of us. I identified with her writing in a way I hadn’t identified with an author for some time. Sure, I had loved Ewan McEwan’s Atonement and Joan Didion’s A Year of Magical Thinking that I had read earlier that year, but this was different. It was more Wild by Cheryl Strayed. There were similar flavors of poetry, style, a familiar voice. There was an element of loss that hung around the corners of my life at that time that was in Molly’s writing too.

I wasn’t a big subscriber of blogs back then. There was just one that I committed myself to, Chrystina Noel, which is about the art of staying in touch and hosting events. Why I didn’t read blogs went deeper than the excuse I gave when someone tried to recommend one- “I just don’t like to read off screens”. Honestly, I felt like most of them weren’t legit and could spiral into something hokey and awkward fast. After meeting Molly and hearing the story of her life in writing, I reconsidered. Creatively, professionally, maybe even emotionally… blogging could be a good tool for me.

For a long time, I didn’t feel like I had a thing to write about, not in the way Molly had cooking. Then I couldn’t commit to the things that did come to mind. They felt narrow and stifling. I worried that I would outgrow them. Then I worried about originality. Why should people care about what I had to say about this? How could I say something new about that? I choked myself out with these questions.

Then I had a blog! I wrote about hiking the Appalachian Trail with my friend Mamie. We made our own blog and that all morphed into me blogging for an amazing website, The Trek. I loved it. I loved sharing how I was feeling and what I was doing. It also terrified me but I thought that was good for me too. And I looooved talking to people in the comments or in real life. I loved-loved- loved it.

When I got off the Appalachian Trail, I had some things figured out. Maybe more than that, I had the right attitude to figure things out and make them happen. Here we are, almost a year later. A lot has shifted and changed, and some stuff has totally lapsed. Writing for myself is one of those things that has totally lapsed. I tried working in the freelance/ghostwriting world but the pay has been meager and there’s something demoralizing putting in so much work into something and not having your name on it. If I’m going to write it has to be about things I care about and my name has to be on them.

Which is where a second blogger and author comes in, Austin Kleon. (You will probably see his name and his links a lot on this site. He’s incredible.) Austin wrote Steal Like an Artist, which I highly recommend and for a lot of reasons, but to make a long story a little shorter, at the end of the book he recommends starting a blog. Again, I faltered and pushed the idea off. Then a potential professional connection asked me where she could read my writing, and the first thing I wanted to say was “At my blog, tlciambra.com!

And. I. Couldn’t.

In the very beginning of college, when everything is exciting and feels possible, I remember telling a friend that I loved everything art related. “Music, drama, visual arts, everything! Everything!” She laughed and told me that was good because I was studying theatre, which was a mix of all of those things. I felt so sure that I was on the right path then.

I want to write about how I experience art and how it helps me understand my life. Similar to how Molly writes about her life and cooking or how Austin writes about the things he finds inspiration from and his creative process. This feels like something I can grow with. It feels like paying closer attention to what I already love and sharing that.

I hope you’ll join me!

TLC

 

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