Switching Gears & Changing Lanes

I recently came across saved copies of some blog posts I’d written in 2009, when I was mired in a deep quagmire of personal disasters. Life, as they say, had handed me lemons. In fact, a whole grove of lemon trees.

In March of that year, I had been downsized during the worst point of the recession, and despite my best efforts, remained unemployed with no job prospects; I’d also recently ended a romantic relationship, and was living out of my car while sleeping on a friend’s couch.

I drank, a lot. As I floated through the boundless expanse of my quarter-life crisis, I didn’t really have much else to do except turn up a bottle of Jack Daniels and spew my half-coherent opinions into the aether.

This was a time in my life when I was seriously contemplating uprooting from midtown Atlanta, moving to rural Alabama or somewhere similar, living in the trashiest trailer park I could find, making friends with all the residents, and writing a book about it. I imagined it being part investigative report, part dark comedy, part feel-good narrative about the rural South. Some of my friends told me to go for it.

The stuff I ended up writing certainly wouldn’t win any awards, nor earn me a publishing deal, and plenty of swears were occasionally used in place of punctuation — but it was actually pretty funny.

Usually when I find something I wrote a million years ago, I always end up reading it with a little bit of cringe. (For a real “WHAT was I thinking?!” moment, or fifty of ’em, try reading the journal you kept in college.) I don’t know how published authors do what they do… get to the point where they feel their work is ready to be permanently stamped onto sheets of dead trees? I’m always seeing how I could have worded something better or turned a phrase more eloquently, or… just… not been so much of an oblivious navel-gazer, I guess.

So when I say I thought my writing was funny, I’m not tooting my own horn — I think I’m my own worst critic. As I revisited my old memories, I was sitting there in total bewilderment, like, “Where did THAT person go? What happened?”

What happened? Well, I finally got a job and had to quit drinking so much. (But, I’d moved to New Orleans by that point, so in reality I didn’t have to quit drinking all THAT much. Now I live in Jacksonville, where “because it’s Tuesday” isn’t an excuse to close the office and day drink on the neutral ground. My brain misses that, but my liver, wallet, and waistline are like, “You’re good, stay in Florida.”)

Eventually I really wanted to start writing again, and thought I would try to do so in a relatively sober fashion. If you’ve been keeping up with my blog (which probably means we’re related somehow or have been friends for a long time), you can probably tell I’ve clearly been trying to “find my voice” again.  When I rebooted my blog, I told myself: no more late night booze-fueled rants! I’m gonna write about serious stuff, and people will take me seriously.

Yeah, well… that, as it turns out, is boring AF. That’s clearly evident as I read over what I’ve posted in the last 2 years.

I’ve always wanted to make people laugh. I like when I do make them laugh, and frankly it surprises me every time they’re not laughing at me. But sometimes that’s okay too. I try not to take myself too seriously either.

Attempting to take myself seriously meant that instead of writing the way I actually talk, in my authentic voice, I’ve been writing the way I think a “serious” blog would sound. Sure, it winds up mostly scrubbed clean of all the words that would make your granny try to wash your mouth out with soap… but it’s about as interesting as a kitchen appliance manual.

I don’t want my blog to read like I’m narrating a PBS documentary instead of talking about my own life. I don’t want to come off as pretentious or disingenuous. Keeping up an internet ‘persona’ is high maintenance and frankly too exhausting, and ain’t nobody got time for that.

I’m going to start trying to write more naturally, and hopefully that will put me in more of a mood to do it.

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