What We Have to Do: Writing for My Life
Back in 1927, Oscar Hammerstein set lyrics to Jerome Kern’s music and wrote “Fish got to swim, birds got to fly.” Since then, numerous artists have recorded the song, Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man, again and again. And it speaks the truth. When we think of a bird, most likely we picture it in flight. Who can think of a fish without seeing it in the water, swimming. Yes, maybe we are going to pull that fish out of the water at the end of our fishing line, but first we will “see” it swimming toward our lure. It’s doing what it has to do.
It’s the same thing with writing. Or any other activity that defines you. In my retirement, I think of myself as a photographer. Yes, I’m out almost every day, camera in hand. I edit my photos using Adobe’s amazing programs Lightroom and Photoshop, and I share them, like the seagull above, through my on-line sales galleries and my Facebook pages. I also share them on my personal webpage. And now I make money from my photographs. I guess that makes me a professional. Here, for instance, are the first photographs of mine published in a magazine. Photographs someone paid me to share.
But I also write, just not so much lately. I tend to suffer from depression. Not clinically, but I get down in the dumps, and have trouble focusing on just about anything. I find it especially hard to focus on writing when I can’t see how the next hour is going to go. But birds gotta fly, writers write. We do what we have to do.
To make it even more personal, people are now paying me to write. Once again, I guess that makes me a professional. I have two writing assignments that I must finish in the next month. My writing will appear in a beautiful magazine and people will read my words. They’ll also see my photographs. Amazing how that all ties together. And here you can see where my words and photos appear in print. And yes, they paid me to do that.
Blogging and Pay
To date, no one has paid me to write this blog. I don’t know if that is a problem. When I was writing a regular post of 1,500 to 2,000 words daily, I spent most of my day writing and editing each post. I didn’t take time to cook, clean, or even to think about anything other than getting those couple thousand pages out for you to read. Analytics tells me that some people did, indeed, read my posts. In the last month, when I haven’t written a word, 156 people have visited my site.
People comment on my work as well. Every day my email spam filter catches new comments on my site. Many of them are spam, coming out of Russia. Those I delete immediately. But I have now caught up on the comments I deem appropriate. And I answer them. Maybe that will encourage people to come back and see what I have to say next. As it is, almost all of my readers are new. Again, analytics tells me that in the past month, only six percent of my visitors are returning. Of course, if they don’t see anything new, why come back?
Down the Road
I know I need to write and I know I need to write every day. I set aside time to write for my assignments, and I need to set aside time to write for my personal readers. Please let me know if there is anything I can write that will be meaningful for you. And while we’re at it, please think about what it is that you gotta do. Are you a fish? A bird? A painter? Swim! Fly! Paint! We all must do what we need to do. It keeps us sane and could well save our lives.