Sunday, August 12

Farther Off the Beaten Path


Here it is.

My first blog . . .

*insert involuntary cringe here*

Don’t misunderstand me; I like blogs. I read blogs, I have friends who have blogs . . . but I didn’t go to school to be a blogger. I changed my major, transferred schools, bled time and units to be a writer – a “serious writer,” to quote the The Help’s Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan.

The problem is, I have – had – a very specific idea of the kind of serious writer I wanted to be.

Jack London circa 1900, living in a rented villa on Lake Merritt in Oakland, corresponding with the likes of George Sterling as he wrote The Call of the Wild, his masterpiece, not to mention my favorite book.

Like I said, specific.

But as my dog and I are currently living in my parents’ downstairs spare bedroom that used to be the garage, I’ve had to loosen my grip on that idea. A lot.

Tessa, said dog and acting editor-in-chief.
Because while Jack London’s experience sounds like the perfect parts accomplishing and whimsical, it’s not a writer’s lifestyle that makes them a good writer; it’s their writing.

I know this, but as humans beings we’re programmed to imitate behaviors others have demonstrated to be successful. Monkey see, monkey do – or don’t do, if the behavior results in failure . . . 

“Ah, there’s the rub.”

In an age where marketing, social networking, and technology have converged to create a virtual firestorm of free media, I would be lying if I said there wasn’t a time when I considered blogging to be the fate of failed writers, or “wanna be” writers relying on the accessibility and convenience of the internet to compensate for the fact that they’re not engaging enough or relevant enough or something enough to move people to pick up (let alone buy) a book or a magazine. You know, a real one, made of these things called pages!

Some days I still think that way. Other days, I think of bloggers as enlightened – writers who have decided they need neither backing nor anybody’s permission to write, well or badly, as 50 Shades of Grey has proven.

But “mommy porn” is its own tangent . . . Probably its own post.

The sum of this post is: if you want to be a person who lives off the beaten path, outside of the 9 to 5, there is no right or wrong way to be(come) that person, nor is the nature of your journey in anyway indicative of your destination.

Blogging doesn’t mean I’ve failed.  It’s doesn’t affect the quality of my writing. It’s a tool, and tools are usually only as effective as the monkey operating them.  

My hesitation towards blogging had nothing to do with actually blogging – it was about realizing that maybe I’ve been letting my expectations hold me back. It was about accepting my reality, one that doesn’t necessarily include a lakeside villa, in which talent doesn’t guarantee success, nor does it make any sense to keep lugging around an Italian leather notebook like a brick in my purse. Now that I have the iPhone, “I have an app for that.”

Having already forgone reliable income, a benefits package, and The Man telling me what to do with my life in favor of a blank Word document that says “Do anything!” but owes and promises me nothing, you would think the rest of it would be easier to swallow, right . . . ?

The truth is, letting go of these last little delusions can be the scariest for those living off the beaten path because without them everyday then becomes a question of whether or not you love what you’re doing enough to keep on doing it – it in its purest and most grueling form.

If the answer is no for you, then I’m sorry. I don’t know what to tell you.

If the answer is yes, though, then I’ll say this:


Trust your own sense of direction and let anyway that gets you to where you want to go be your way. Trying to retrace the steps of others or allowing an inauthentic or scared version of yourself guide you is only going to get you twice as lost or worse; it’ll get you nowhere.

So here it is.

My first blog, written from my dog-haired covered bed in my room that used to be my parents’ garage.

This is my way, apparently, or at least a part of it.

What’s yours . . . ?

XO, Mal


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  1. I enjoyed this very much. I have been a writer all of my life and I will continue on in whatever form it takes.