Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Hug (or professional versus unprofessional)

There are a lot of books out there about living the writer's life. There are some well written ones, filled with excellent advice. I've read a few. There are ways to better yourself and your writing and to make the most of your energies, but I'm not sure about the value of teaching someone how to live in a writerly way. You're either a writer because you are writing, or you are not.

Which brings me to something I've been thinking about recently. Many friends of mine keep professional writer's blogs. That is to say they post only about things that are writing-related like book reviews, snippets of their own writing, entries about readings they have given or are about to give, and book announcements. Their sidebars are filled with links to other writers, literary journals and magazines and places where their own work has been published. It's a networking tactic, and a smart one.

Hm. My slip is showing a little. Let me adjust.

A few months ago I worked in a a high school with a teacher I met the summer before. I visited all of his senior classes, and one tenth grade class. We kept a professional relationship, but we were also fast friends. He was smart and funny and made his students feel comfortable asking questions and having long discussions. The last day of my residency, I resisted the urge to give him a hug. A few weeks later, I regretted that decision. He died in his sleep. He was only 39.

So how does this relate? I'm a writer and I am living. And a living writer has things to say other than that she had a poem published, or that she had thoughts about a book she read. Sometimes she has to feel helpless at the dentist, cake dirt under her fingernails, pay bills and feed a family. That's part of the writer's life too. The mundane and the germ-ridden sponge of the domestic.

I don't want to be that person who only writes about the writerly things in her life, and omits the rest as if it never happened because it is somehow unprofessional. I want to lean in and give a hug when I feel like it.


Jodi Anderson said...

First of all, the story. Wow. I think that perhaps, despite not hugging, he felt the kinship just the same. Sorry for the loss.

Secondly, the rest of this post, the idea of a writer's life, has been heavily on my mind, and also the way that it plays into blogging. I don't want to be so bold as to call myself a writer when I don't get paid for it very often and only write sporadically, yet I recently realized that I just HAD to separate my blogging from my poems/photos. I never felt comfortable posting poems next to recipes. As soon as I made the decision and began two separate blogs (two days ago), I bloomed.

Sorry that this is kind of a tangent, but in my own mind it fits perfectly into my recent ponderings. And needs.

Talia Reed said...

I just don't have enough writerlyness going on to only post about writing, though that is/was sort of my goal with the blog. But, sometimes I have other things that are more or less interesting, such as excuses to post pics of my cutie pie, etc. And with that, I find blogs that stick whole-heartedly to their professionalism rather boring. I'm just not scholarly enough to find a whole lot of excitment in most of that.