Subtle demands. Is that an oxymoron?
Lately, two things have been popping up in my everyday life. Each occurrence is subtle, but on the whole they grab my attention. I’m wondering why? What is it about these two things that require my attention? Today I’ll share one of those things with you and reveal my conclusions as to why it’s important.It’s no secret that I’m a space junkie. The Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs fascinate me and I try to keep up with the happenings of our (now limited) space program. Discoveries made through direct and indirect methods fire the imagination. When the Kepler telescope discovered 715 planets* in one day, nearly doubling the amount of planets known to humanity, I was awed. But I don’t want to let my enthusiasm for a subject bore you into un-following me.
However, I’ve been struggling with blog topics recently. Usually when this problem arises I pick up one of the writing magazines to which I subscribe and something grabs my attention. When I tried this tactic for today’s post the subject of outer space slapped me in the face.
You see, Catherine Barnett was asked, “What is the most important thing you’ve learned about writing?” Her answer was to quote the lyrics of David Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’ and acknowledged “how essential it is to get out of earth’s orbit so you can explore the orbits of your own mind and see the familiar with new eyes when you return.” She also mentions Ed White, the first American to walk in space.**
Her words were exactly what I needed to hear. My mind had been running through a maze of plots and characters and like a frightened child I became lost. The more I tried to focus the farther I drifted from my purpose. So I let myself step out of that maze and into the vastness of space (along with Ed White) and I took in the wonder around me. My novels, short stories and poetry faded while peace washed over me.
My sojourn made me realize I was writing for the wrong reasons. I’d lost my way, pinning hopes on my words instead of letting my words create hope. Don’t get me wrong, I want to be published and I want to make money writing but when all is said and done those things don’t really matter. It’s enough to write well and feel comfortable sharing my stories and poems. The value others place on my words comes second.
So you see, the influx of space related topics that bombarded me recently were leading somewhere. It just took Catherine Barnett to spell it out for me.
** Packard, Gabriel. “Take Note: Writers on Writing Catherine Barnett.” The Writer March 2014: 8-9.