Reading & Writing About Writing

It seems I’m always trying to narrow-down my writing focus. I see so many of my writer friends who focus on one genre of writing, and I get to thinking that maybe I should, as well. If you’ve been following me for some time now, you know that my writing topics are all over the place. The thing is I get bored. No, that ‘s not right. It’s more than that. It’s that there’s so much I want to write about. I consider my writing a part of who I am, and I am – like anyone else – a multi-complex person. So therefore, when I took up writing as a craft, I did it with the idea that I would never get bored.

In downtown Cuero, Texas, after visiting the Traveling Petting Zoo with my niece; there’s a lovely garden area of flowering shrubs in various sizes and colors.

I’m currently reading Amy Tan’s writing memoir, Where the Past Begins. As I read it, chapter by chapter, I am reminded how much I love to write – about anything and everything. So then, maybe my writing should be just that – about anything. Sure, I can focus on a few topics. I can have fun telling you about my excursions to neighboring towns and our life building a temporary home while living in a dilapidated house destined for future demolition. And I can inform you about my food allergies, my books-in-progress, and my desire to be in shape at sixty. But many times, that all seems so limiting.

Instead of trying to narrow down my writing topics, perhaps I should just enjoy writing – sharing with and inspiring others regardless of topic. Isn’t that what writing is all about? Our passion? Our creativity? Sharing who we are with others, building them up, educating them, inspiring them, broadening their horizons and our own. I think that’s what I loved most about learning to read: all the adventures I experienced by those who came before me. Writers who shared their stories – fiction and nonfiction – transporting me to places I would never visit in person and providing me with ideas I may or may not agree with.

So, what am I writing about lately? Well, I’m writing about a lot of things. For instance, yesterday, I shared a post on Instagram about a trip to meetup with my dearest niece, Tabitha, in the neighboring town of Cuero. We had so much fun visiting and catching up, walking and talking and, of course, shopping. So much so that we are going to attempt a weekend of it in the coming future. It won’t be the same without Santa or the huge Christmas tree, but it will be a market day weekend, so it will have familiarity. And we will get to visit all the places and stores we didn’t get to see in only half a day.

“Christmas in Downtown” Cuero, Texas; the main street in town was cordoned off for children’s rides and vendors making for a fun family day of walking and shopping.

I have also written about my food allergies recently. I have written about kindness and giving the gift of love. And I have written about slowing down for much-needed rest. In the past, I have written about making decisions and keeping life simple. And even farther back, I have written about motherhood, fatherhood, marriage, and the importance of relationships in a digital world. I have written about writing and blogging, fitness, goals, integrity, and social media. And the list goes on.

Another aspect of what to write about or what not write about is choosing a topic we are passionate about or that brings us some sense of joy. The kind of excitement that not just asks us but begs us to put our words in type on the screen or from our pen to paper. One of the biggest hurdles I had in high school, or any level of school for that matter, was writing on a topic that didn’t interest me. It’s like trying to read a book I don’t enjoy. I once received a grade of fifty for “lack of enthusiasm and follow-through.” When I went to my teacher about it, she said I needed to pick a topic of interest. I told her none of the choices available on her list interested me. She then told me to do the process of elimination and choose a topic from her list of which I could turn out a better research paper. What happened? I got a passing grade but that was it. It was so difficult for me to write about any of the topics on her list because I was not enthused by any of them. And this very thing is why I didn’t become a journalist or work in the newspaper or magazine industry. I want to always be passionate about my topic.

So, when you are reading or writing, my suggestion is if it isn’t working out for you, stop reading the book, stop writing on that topic. There are so many more books in the world, and we can never read them all. So, why not read those that bring us some sort of joy, interest, or inspiration. And the same goes for writing. If a topic isn’t working, why not write about something else. So many times, I plan to write about one thing. But when I sit down to write, I end up writing about something else entirely. And there is nothing wrong with that. Unless we are taking a course and need to complete an assignment, or we need to read or write something for our employment, we get to choose what we read or write – every single day. Sure, a person can suggest a topic for our next book or article, but ultimately, we get to decide if it is worth our while to read it to the end or to complete the article or essay. We cannot let ourselves feel coerced into writing anything we cannot feel in our heart or our soul.

So, I will be spending less time wondering about if I should focus my writing solely on my food allergies, or on what my books are about, or if I am for or against social media. I will simply write what I’m inspired to write, and I will leave the pondering for another day or another person to consider. And, I will do the same with what I read. Interestingly, I DNF’d (did not finish) two books this summer. I got halfway through one and just could not go any further, feeling the story had gone on in a direction of which I normally don’t care to read about. And the other, I was unable to make it through the first chapter, feeling the words were too descriptive making the start of what might be an otherwise remarkable book rather plodding (and exhausting for me).

Cuero Public Library; closed for the “Christmas in Downtown” event, we peered through its large windows to see comfy and inviting sitting areas for cozy reading.

My recommendation, then, is to be sure you are enjoying what you write about and what you are reading. If something is not inspiring you in some way, time should not be spent on it. It’s just like anything else. Sure, we have to do chores to keep our living area livable, but we do not have to force ourselves to write or read something that won’t matter to us in six months. If it doesn’t matter to us, it certainly won’t matter to anyone else if we don’t finish reading it or if we don’t write it at all.

If you are not a reader or a writer, then whatever creativity you pursue or have chosen for yourself, take heart that it is the same thing for you. Enjoy what you do. If you love photography, take pictures. If you love stained-glass, do that. If you like to sew, sew away. If you like to write poetry, write the poems that move you; for if they do that for you, they will also be that for others. Let your art – whatever it is, inspire you. When it inspires you, it will inspire those around you – loved ones and strangers alike.

So, let’s be creatively passionate about what we choose to do. Whether it’s writing or reading, teaching yoga or nutrition, sharing our artfulness, don’t wonder about limiting yourself. Take the inspiration you feel and turn it into something more. And when you don’t feel the inspiration but still want to create, then let the art take you on your next adventure. Whether it’s a story, beaded jewelry, pottery, greeting card, or other dynamic outpouring, let it inspire you. Let it move you into a new phase of courage to share your art, share yourself with the world.

Until next time, keep singin’ those carols, keep dreamin’ of peace and unity as Christmas approaches, and keep on smilin’….,

Love, Virg

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