I flipped back through the digital pages of previous Julys all the way back to post number one. Seven years isn’t that long in real life, but it is an eternity in the digital one. I now write stuff on this new toy called an iPad – which wasn’t even on our conceptual radar in 2004. Twitter didn’t exist. Facebook was only a few months old and not available to real world adults yet. Which is to say that there was far less time spent on the Interwebs and more time reading physical books, having real-life conversations, and the circle of people in my life was far smaller.
When I see my writing back then, it seems like a little kid learning how to ride a bike. I have a vague memory of house and dog-sitting for some friends (who have three children now and no dogs) around the 4th of July weekend. I sat at their dining room table and wrote those first words while crickets played their fiddle legs outside the open windows.
I started a blog because I had very little confidence as a Writer and figured I had to get used to perfect strangers reading my words; I had to bring into light and let grow or die whatever may come. Much of what I wrote in those early posts were something akin to the thoughts in my head, the conversations from the inside thrown on to pages outside. And they read as such. The early days weren’t well formed, and the thoughts scattered. The quality and content of my Writing then is somewhat embarrassing now. A bit too Christian-y for my taste now, but that change is a result of learning to communicate such concepts and thoughts in a larger dialect and, hopefully, with a refined quality.
As far as I can tell, I have also made quite a few friends through this blog – real friends in real life. Erin Ivey stumbled upon this blog while on hiatus in Peoria, IL and while stepping into her own right as a singer-songwriter whose star keeps rising higher and higher (Buy her latest album Broken Gold). The ever-comic Chris Mundell and I became friends initially through his webpage and continue to be long-distance mates, but have shared a birthday party with his youngest while on a stopover in Santa Barabara. Through him I met the multi-talented Greg Lawler and in that friendship began a new chapter of my life as a Photographer. I got to interview singer-songwriter Matthew Ryan, Writer/Director Gary Lundgren about his film ”Calvin Marshall”. And that’s just to name a few.
Greg Wolfe wrote, "We often go through life avoiding intimate encounters with the 'Other,' whether that be God, family, or friends. Great art puts us in touch with the presence of the other." If anything has come of learning the art of Writing with a bigger audience in mind, it has created intimate encounters with so many 'others.'
Over the years I started submitting my writings to various publications and have since been published in various genres and mediums, getting paid ever so little, but paid all the same, for much of what I write. Which is part of the reason I haven’t written more here in the recent months.
My Writing has evolved with its own confidence much like I did over all those years as a Mountaineering Guide. When I began guiding I read all the books I needed, got the training, knew how to read a map and shoot a bearing, light a stove, cook a meal and patch a wound while leading groups into new physical, emotional and spiritual spaces. As the years went by, though, there were quite a few things I was not conscious of anymore, that I simply did because of experience. It wasn’t until eight or nine years later, guest-guiding a trip with an old friend who was only in his 2nd year as a guide that I was made aware of this. After a week on the trail together – one in which I made a risky call to not evacuate a client suffering from HAPE - he noticed I didn’t stop to think about so many of the things he was used to thinking about. I simply did it and moved on; seemingly sure it would work out. Or to put it more simply, I did not spend a lot of time pondering the small decisions because things tend to work out how they will regardless of how much thought I put into it. That was something that could only come with numerous trips and miles filled with lightning, illness, landslides, and hundreds of life-stories.
So it is with Writing. I still ask certain questions I have always asked – a form of editing on the go – but I spend less time worrying about the responses, maybe. My writing voice, though something always growing, is less a stranger and more a rhythm. I enjoy playing with words more now than I did 7 years ago and that may be because I feel more friendly with them.
Still, I am just getting started. Like I said, 7 years isn’t all that long. In some instances I feel like that metaphorical plane finally rolled out of the hangar, may be taxing around the airport a bit; it may have even done some test flights, but I have yet to feel like I have thrown it full throttle and let fly long and loud.
Maybe it is time to stop taxiing the runway. I no longer need clearance from the Tower. I just need to take my foot off the brakes, push that throttle forward and seeing how this baby handles in flight….