- Describe something small and seemingly innocuous
- Dig to find some deeper spiritual principles that goes with it (use sweeping motifs – people love that shit)
- Stagger some semi-humourous photos with gag-like captions
- Finish strong with some lofty ideals and a more serious, uplifting picture.
That, my friends, is how a Message in a Bottle blog post is constructed. Four simple pillars to hold up the latest literary oeuvre. Four items to check off before pressing the blue Publish button on the right side of the screen there.
It works, but it’s also very formulaic. And it puts me into a bit of a creative Iron Maiden.
[insert sentence here about “bleeding for one’s art” etc.]
Now I’m not here to bore you with the details of this blog. You read the blog for whatever reason you read it. Having said that, there hasn’t been much to read. The air has been a bit still here, and the only reason I am writing this is to try and clear the cobwebs from the corners of this room. I haven’t had much to say, and I have lost count on how many times I have started and deleted posts in the last few weeks.
Nothing seems to want to stick.
[The setup has been laid down.]
Two very groovy writer friends of mine (psst: their names are Dan and Mark) and I were having a talk about blogging, and Mark shared an article which spelled out a dire statistic: most blogs last an average of 100 days. That’s it. So in the span of the time it takes my kids to actually clean their room from the moment I ask them the first time, a blog will have been created, filled up and then faded out like a shooting star.
I have seen countless recovery blogs start with a bang. I AM GOING TO STOP DRINKING AND HERE ARE MY THOUGHTS. And those thoughts spill out like confetti from Rip Taylor’s Bucket-O-Fun. When you are new to recovery, you have lots to say. Emotions of all colours seep into every corner of your space. You write because to not write means you will burst with all these newfound observations and insights. You write so you can breathe.
Eventually, things start to normalise. The novelty and newness of a new way of life softens and things just start to be. You’re no longer bound to the frantic pinball game of strange feelings and monumental expectations bumping up against reality and the tilting thoughts that follow. You are living and things begin to be…good. Undramatic. Cushioned with contentment.
So what’s to write about then?
[The question is set, the problem raised, the negativity demonstrated.]
This is when a lot of blogs drift away. People have made their mark and leave to make their mark somewhere else, in new and different ways. Ways that are more in line with who they were meant to be. They no longer need the blog, the sounding vessel, that once served them. And that’s a fair enough cop.
Essentially that is where I am – I don’t feel like I have much to say about recovery much any more. I love recovery and have been fortunate enough to find it, and it’s injected me with the very life that I craved when drinking. Recovery has given my many gifts. And I don’t have much to say about where I am now. I work long hours, I run, I hang with my family, and I nap frequently. That’s about it. I don’t do anything much else.
[The neutral observation made.]
My other good writer friend Sean, when I told him about my concerns, countered by saying that we all have a life worthy of celebrating. I understand his sentiment, and it has merit, but in the end, who wants to read that all is well? Then again, Sean’s writing is fantastic and he makes me laugh at the absurdity of life and his thinking process. Mark deals with the miracles of the mundane in an almost poetic way and Dan can spin a yarn and take you down a splendid path of insight and wisdom in a way that only he can do. So there is something to be said about demonstrating life and spirit through the “normalcy” of existence. Which is far from normal.
[This is the part where I start to see the positive aspects, and move away from the negative. Insert photo with caption here to break up the section.]
I will certainly keep this space open, and hopefully the need to fill it will come. I am not a writer with a capital W, but I do have my moments where I do feel the pull to create. I can’t draw a straight line with a ruler nor can I sculpt or even paint worth a damn, so writing it is. And that’s okay. If that is my outlet, then that is it. I don’t have the ambition to write for a living, nor do I have lofty blog branding goals or care much for SEO’s and all that stuff. I just want to jot down something now and then, and I am content to come to that conclusion. It takes the pressure off to perform. This is my corner of the world and I will tend to it as I see fit.
So for those of you who are new and need to spill – spill like a tanker ship. I wrote in a journal for the first year of my recovery and it saved me from my own tortuous thoughts. Getting it down took it away from spinning in my head. It helped to clear the air, so to allow kinder and gentler thoughts to take their first breaths. If you are like me and wondering if it’s still worth writing, keep at it. My sort of anti-post here is an example of me writing even when I don’t feel like it. There is a post even when there isn’t a post there.
[Looking ahead to finishing up. Try and stay positive. Wrap it up.]
Life doesn’t have to be in turmoil to be teachable. The lessons learned when things are going smoothly may not be as dramatic and intense as when things are tumultuous, but they are still lessons. My job is to try and keep my eyes open to them. And write them down. Even if it’s once in a while.