In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “New.”
Before going to Mexico in October, I started a blog of my experiences rather than keep a journal. Instead of writing privately for myself, I posted my experiences and reflections publicly as if I were a ‘foreign correspondent’ to my readers. Every author loves to be read, and writing for others invites their reactions. Writers love readers’ comments just as actors and musicians live for the applause. The responses keep me going.
My blog – ‘Adventures in Midlife Spanish’ – is aimed at adults who dream about learning Spanish but believe it’s too late to start; that they’re too old to learn. I show them they can learn and offer practical suggestions to accelerate or encourage their learning. Language and culture are inseparable, and my posts reflect on aspects of Mexican culture from the standpoint of a norteamericano with a foot planted in the cultures on either side of the Río Grande.
While in Mexico, I wove together themes from the history, customs, and meaning of El Día de los Muertos or Day of the Dead, the celebration of Independence Day and its links to the on-going political protests, the role of the Virgin of Guadalupe in Mexican identity and a note of praise for the ubiquitous but essential tortilla. From Mexico it is easier to better understand my native culture when I see it from a new perspective. From there I am free to consider beliefs I haven’t questioned before.
After returning from Mexico, I started a second, concurrent blog called ‘Loose Leave Binder – Reflections on Thoughts, Words, and Deeds.’ The title reflects its looser, more eclectic themes. This is where I post pieces not related to learning Spanish or Mexican culture. It is a place where I can try out ideas and see what others think of them.
Now retired, I’ve returned to writing the way I’ve always wanted to write: To write for the pleasure of individual readers rather than to advance the causes of institutional employers. After thirty-five years of writing impersonal ‘white papers’ and ‘issue briefs’ for various corporate and government organizations, I’m free to write personally without an impersonal mask of dispassionate omniscience. Blogging invites a more immediate, spontaneous style of thinking and writing; it’s a style I had to re-learn in the place of habitual objectivity and self-censorship.
Words are like a mob of extroverts; once I put them down on the paper or screen, they immediately invite other words to associate with them. Then this gang of associated words take me to places I hadn’t thought of going to. That’s the thrill of writing, I don’t know what I’ll produce until I’m done. Blogs seem to write themselves and I’m simply a channel.
Blogging is my discipline. With every post, there are decisions to make that will shape my work. How often to post? What subjects to cover? Should I create a connected series or follow my whims? What is my ‘tone’ of voice – didactic, conversational, or meditative? These and other questions shape my writing, provide continuity, and set a standard against which I measure my work.
The joy of blogging is like going to a high school reunion; it’s a party where I encounter the English language again as I would a boyhood pal, we are new to each other, and yet, we are familiar with much to say.