Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Call Outs called off—
Culling the unnecessary in order to write

In another of what is proving to be my continuing series of learning to let go of things I don't really need to do, I'm calling off my blog feature, "Call Outs," in which I asked writers to weigh in on various topics like rejection, tracking submissions,  etc.

I liked the idea of reaching out to other writers through this blog, but in order to get people to respond, I had to solicit in places beyond it (e.g., writers' networks), and then weigh the responses and choose the best. And that was with just a few responses. If the feature (and response rate) had grown, I fear I would have found myself in the same situation I found myself in as a little magazine publisher years ago—using my free time to read submissions from other people and, conversely, not having as much time to submit my own things elsewhere.

But it's not just the time factor. Since a blog is essentially a vanity publication, I realized that it's OK if most of the material comes from me. After I posted the Call Out topic on how writers make a living, I also realized I've been waiting to write something about this for years, having collected information on the occupations of well-known writers (which I'll share later).

So far this year I've started three blogs that I've since shut down or put into hiatus:
  • The Electronic Closet of Beth Blevins' Overactive Mind, a blog composed strictly of short essays on any topic that popped in my head, which I shut down after I recognized that some of those posts might actually work as the basis for longer/better essays;
  • Cooking for Four, the food/cooking blog that was supposed to make me money; and
  • Places I Have Lived, which was supposed to be a collaborative blog in which I invited friends and writers to reflect on places they'd lived in the past, but to which no one had the time to respond. (I had envisioned this blog as an updated/electronic version of my earlier zine, particularly its "Neighborhood" issue, in which I asked readers to describe their current living situations.)
I've also started three web sites this year—two as companions to my blogs (cooking and places), and one, How Do Women Write?, which was never quite finished, but which became the impetus for my still-current Quotes About Creative Women blog. 

If these had been started on paper, no one would ever know about them, or find them, and my negligence to them would never have been known. The Internet makes my failings all the more visible.

Yet, I'm not sure it is a failing to stop something that I can't do well, or to learn to set more realistic goals for myself. I am trying to hone down all that I do creatively into activities that will strengthen my writing and my avocation as a writer. If this were a true publication and not just a self-produced blog, of course I would be soliciting ideas and stories from other writers. Or, if I were a well-known writer, I suppose that my ideas might carry enough weight that I could get other people to carry them out for me (Jeff Koons-style).

I wish had enough energy and time to pursue all the ideas I have. I'm hoping that the ideas that I make the time to pursue will prove worthy of their selection.

In the meantime, I intend to continue my Writer Profile feature, since I consider it an apprenticeship, of sorts, which is allowing me to learn from other writers who come from a diversity of genres and fields. I hope to publish at least 10 more writer interviews in the next year. Stay tuned.

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