Saturday, May 21, 2011
I realized this when I joined a loosely affiliated community of SLPs on twitter. I'd post something directed at that group and discover that the poster sounded nothing like the me who posts to a readership of music friends, who in turn sounds nothing like the me who runs workshops or the me who slaps stuff up on my blog.
"Six IEP meetings!" the SLP me tweeted. "I've got my work cut out for me!" The SLP me is wholesome, enthusiastic, serious, and ever-so-slightly Stepford.
"Unfortunately the only folks who are interested in the question of whether classical music is relevant are, um, classical musicians." The musician me is snarky, irreverant, and sub-clinically depressed.
"How can I get me a mitre?" Yeah, that one's just me.
Job is supposed to be identity, but what if you've got four jobs? Does that automatically relegate you to a schizoid, fragmented existence, or can you integrate those disparate identities into a single, functioning self?
I think a lot of women face this challenge, though most probably restrict themselves to a single career plus mommyhood. It doesn't help that I've been keeping each of my career selves neatly compartmentalized, like office supplies in a tray. I don't mention to the SLPs that I'm a musician (it confuses them). I don't tell the musicians that I'm an SLP (it makes them scornful). And I don't tell ANYONE that I blog.
I feel like I need to come out of the closet, somehow, only I'm not sure what I'm hiding. And I kind of like the coat hangers.
Thursday, May 19, 2011
Friday, May 13, 2011
Terrifying news: I may get paid to write.
The writing is not the problem. Clearly, I enjoy writing. I enjoy writing to the point where I’ll tap away at the keyboard for free with very little in the way of reader response. I’ve completed two and a half novels I haven’t really bothered to send anywhere. I’ve published a couple of poems in the sort of literary journals read by three aspiring poets. And, for four years, I’ve blogged away for an audience consisting, from what I can discern, of ten friends from college.
But there’s a big difference between enjoying something and allowing it to take the full weight of your requirements. O, those pesky requirements- cheese, shoes, a place to sleep with an actual roof. I’ve seen, from my years in music, how professionalizing something you love can strangle that love, how making something you love into work makes it, well, work.
So I’ve kept writing as my hobby. It’s easier for me than music or speech therapy, those things I do for pay. It comes to me much more naturally, a home birth as opposed to an epidural-laden, doctor-drenched caesarian. I think I thought, when I was growing up, that writing was too easy, that anything you could do that comfortably must be cheap.
Keeping writing off the professional table all these years let me give it space to breathe. I could write whatever I wanted, when I wanted. I could be entirely self-indulgent in my writing, without a shred of concern for audience or market. And I can’t say that I’m not afraid to lose the freedom that comes from working for nothing.
Fortunately, for what they’re paying me, it’s almost like I am.
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Saturday, May 7, 2011
However, I long ago promised myself that I would never write that archetypal blog entry on why I'm not blogging, so here is something besides drowning in my own overcommitment I've been thinking about lately: listening. And what is making me think of listening, you ask? It's not music, or silence, or any of the easy answers. No, it's the church newsletter from my husband's church.
God, I love church newsletters! And by God, I mean that-entity-which-may-or-may-not-exist-and-is-in-any-case-totally-eclipsed-by-the-awesomeness-of-the-newsletter. Church newsletters are overflowing with the kind of self-important non-information I adore. They are officious, official, and deeply concerned with trivia. They edge out -barely- free coffee as the apex of the non-believer's church experience.
So when I see them, I pounce. Teeth bared, arms akimbo, the better to outmaneuver all those wily Episcopalians in walkers. That newsletter is MINE!
Too bad about the legitimately thoughtful article, though, written by a parishoner who doubles as an English professor. He was discussing the volunteer work he does leading writing workshops with incarcerated men. There was a lot of God stuff, but this bit jumped out at me:
"Dave, our writings are alright," one of the men from the first workshop, Kelvin, told me. "But it's your curiosity about our lives that really makes it interesting."
And there, for me, is the crux of it, the secret that underlies all the writing workshops, the art therapy, the championing of creativity as a tool for healing. It's not the writing or the painting or the yodeling: it's the listening. Some of us write just to write, it's true. There are people who paint in secret, and I practice day after day for the ants. But for most people, the power of the listener -one engaged, active, and interested listener- is formidable.
Speak out, the proverb goes. Speak your mind. Say your piece. If you see something, say something. Shout it out.
And that's all well and good. But if you really want to make a difference, listen up.