Because I’m a little slow and a little late, it has just occurred to me that I’ve been writing this blog for almost two years now.
I started it because I needed to vent – to howl at the moon. My heart is broken over the destruction of the natural world. My shame at my contribution, which continues, sometimes feels overwhelming. So I write, because it feels, often, like there is nothing else for me to do.
When I started, I had no expectations of followers, or (gasp) commercialization. This is just me, howling.
And I’m a nobody from nowhere. A middling, actually. Middle aged. Middle class. Middle brow. Mid-western. A privileged American white woman, of no consequence to the larger world at all.
One of my all-time favorite movies is “To Kill a Mockingbird”. The title of this blog is a hat tip. Mayella gets the line, fed up and frustrated with Atticus Finch and the whole sad story.
I didn’t expect to enjoy the process of blogging as much as I do. Writing is something I’ve always done. Journals, letters, essays, poems, plays and the occasional short story litter file folders from various points of my life. I took journalism classes back in the day when I had hopes of becoming the next Woodward and Bernstein. Imposing a deadline on myself gives me the structure I need and is familiar. I’m under no illusions that I’m a raging talent. I’m competent. I strive for unadorned, concise prose. I try to write how I used to speak, back when I had a mind and a memory.
What I do here isn’t journalism, by the way. I do try to have my facts straight, I do strive for accuracy to the best of my knowledge, but I obviously have a take on those facts and I make no apologies for it.
There are lots of books out there about writing and I’ve read quite a few. My personal favorite is Ann Lamott’s bird by bird because, between howls of laughter, she gave me permission to suck on the first try. Her term for it is the shitty first draft. That concept is so liberating for an obsessive compulsive, anal retentive perfectionist like me.
Another surprise is that I’ve evolved a process. That sounds like something a real writer would have. Mine is extremely lax because I only hold myself to a once a week essay. Something happens or drifts into my mind and I start writing the shitty first draft in long hand. When it feels complete, it sits for a while. Rewrite is on the computer if it gets that far. Often, I toss the first draft and start over.
I reveal thoughts and feelings and experiences but I try to do it in a way that is respectful of privacy. When I write about real people in my life that are not public persons, I give them a fake name. Even my animals have pseudonyms.
I try to respect the word count as well. Brevity being the soul of wit and all, I figure I can say something with somewhere between 300 to 800 words. I rarely go over; sometimes I break it into two parts. Complex topics require more depth, but I rarely go that deep.
I’m one person among 7.2 billion people on this planet. Nothing special. That anyone finds this spot and pulls up a chair to read what I have to say just stuns me.