I’ve been reflecting on a number of changes in my life. What better way to do so than writing in my blog, for a change?
The past couple of years, career-wise, could best be summed up thus: less writing; more music. There was a time a few years ago, when, in addition to my family humor column in The Patriot Ledger, I was also writing features for the Ledger; pitching (and writing) stories for South Shore Living magazine; getting the occasional piece published in the Milton Times, and, mostly, writing a whole bunch of stuff for Milton Patch (and a couple of other Patch sites, as well.) Musically, I continued to teach piano and voice lessons, as I have since 2001, and also served as a cantor and later as a children’s choir director for a couple of local churches.
Then Patch cut its funding, and that gig dried up. Not too long afterward, I started work as the music director for Saint Jerome Parish. This was a step up for me in the church music field, and I continue my work there, with much joy and satisfaction. My studio has increased, as well, and for the past couple of years, the only regular writing I’ve done has been the bi-weekly column for the Ledger.
Last year, faced with a major time crunch due to taking a graduate-level course at the seminary, I wrote an email to my editor at the Ledger, explaining that I just couldn’t write the column any more. I generally push myself pretty hard, but last spring, I had reached my limit. Also, it was getting harder and harder to find topics about which to write. My kids were getting older, and weren’t saying as many adorable things as they did when they were toddlers and preschoolers. There were also some real privacy issues arising, with my oldest child in middle school.
I saved that email to my editor in my drafts folder for a week, going back to it and revising it every couple of days. Finally, I had it the way I wanted it. I read the whole thing…and realized it made me really sad. I wasn’t ready to give up the column, after all, and never sent the email.
I plugged away, writing another column every two weeks. Most of them were okay; some of them were pretty good, and a few of them I really didn’t care for at all. (Funny how those were often the ones for which I got the most positive feedback!) The kids were getting still older and the privacy concerns were increasing. Plus, my whole life was filled with my church job and my teaching, but I couldn’t really write about either of those topics in my column, which was in the family humor niche.
In short, I’ve been having a really hard time being inspired. Much of what happens in our family these days, I’m just not interested in sharing with the world. Not that it’s bad — we’re hardly a family in crisis — but it’s just not the type of stuff I can build a column around every two weeks, particularly when I’m working full-time in my other two jobs.
So, I’m going to be taking a break from the column, for real this time. I’m not sure exactly what’s going to happen. I’d like to write now and again if I can, and my editor is open to that, but I am thinking that the run of the actual column may be over. I may try to write a “thanks for the memories” piece if my editor thinks she can use it.
It does make me a little sad. Even now as I write this post, I’m feeling it. I know some people really do enjoy the column — people in my choir, for example, and some Facebook friends. There is a sense of letting them down, although I know it’s not a life-changing decision for them, as much as it feels like it to me!
As I’ve reflected on this change, and on my career path over the past few years, I am certain that I am where I’m supposed to be, doing what I’m supposed to be doing. I sometimes feel a nudge toward writing about different topics — my music ministry work, for example — but have always squashed that urge, telling myself that any time I have to write ought to be spent on turning out my next column. Plus I’m not really sure how to write about that, and don’t know if it would be as interesting to anyone else as it is to me.
Without a deadline every two weeks, it’s possible that I might find the time to write about these other topics. It’s also possible that without the pressure of a deadline, I may never write at all! I think the trick will be figuring out which way it’s going to go, and being okay with that.