The author and Steven Tyler 'way back when...
I take a lot of heat for choosing to blog.
"The Chicago Sun Times you worked for -- you won awards, for Chrissake," is the gist of it. And I totally get it. I do.
But I didn't like being a reporter. Even when I was sitting in a limo with the hottest band or movie star in the land -- or the world -- I didn't like it. Because I liked them as people.
I met their families, friends, lovers. I saw them without the war paint on, without the "star maker machinery" whirring in the background -- no smoke, no mirrors -- just people as scared and vulnerable and screwed up and human as me (more so, sometimes).
And I didn't want to write about that, not the way I was supposed to. I wanted to write about the magic they made and then leave them in peace.
That wasn't a "story," though. I learned how to write stories and the awards proved how well.
But reporting wasn't "writing." It was, well, reporting, rubbing out the "me" in it to stick to the facts -- a noble endeavor, don't get me wrong. But there's a reason most reporters want to be columnists eventually, to speak their real minds.
I do it all the time; I'm doing it now.
I'm still a teenage fan girl at heart, you see. And a wide-eyed kid who gets excited about all kinds of stuff -- not just celebrities. I'm over the moon (no pun intended) about the discovery of that Kepler planet that might be Earth's "twin." I'm very curious about this pope who seems to be living what Jesus taught, instead of just making speeches about Him every Sunday -- and I'm not even a believer, really.
I subscribe to dozens of e-newsletters and devour them greedily. Some of it I write about and some I just revel in. But it's nice to know that if there's something I want to say, I can say it via HuffPost, Open Salon or wherever it fits best.
I do not have to ask permission. There is no deadline. In some cases, there are no "style preferences." I can be totally me, at my own risk.
I'm willing to risk it. It's scary, but it's exhilarating, too, being out there without a net, on the net.
When something very good or very bad happens, I can express my feelings -- condolences, congratulations -- and people will read and respond. I may thank both those who agree and disagree or say nothing -- you're either preaching to the choir or deaf ears. No minds are changed, as a rule.
But it's fun trying.
In fact, it's downright empowering to know that at the click of a mouse your words will be sent out into the world and will matter to someone, somewhere, even if you never hear from any of the people they touched or angered or inspired.
I call them love notes, my little pieces -- that's what they are to the people I write about, to the others who read them, too. They say, "I care about you" or "I care about this." And I try to explain why in words that inform, comfort, challenge or even chafe, if I feel that's necessary.
But I'm not doing it for money now or "The Paper," prestige, power or whatever. There is no pressure to do any of that, as there was back when I was a "real" journalist -- no one would say it out loud. But the pressure was there, between the lines.
And I fell out of love with writing for a while.
But now, I feel just as I did back when I was a little girl, curled up in an easy chair, scribbling on a notepad like John Boy Walton -- for love. It's the longest "affair" I've had, this thing between me and my writing.
There are millions like me. They don't all get to express themselves via the venerable HuffPost, but they find their way, their niches -- or create them.
Here's to all of us and you who read our little love notes.
I care about you. I care about this.
Photo credit: Marc Glassman