Writing is a bitch sometimes.
I’ve given myself a number of writing projects, some religious in nature and some more scholastic. Some are a blending of the both. I’ve also begun to explore what it would be like to take my writing to print.
All of these things are squeezed into my calendar and shuffled onto my desk throughout the week, and on some days — like the last four — it feels as thought the weight of these papers, ideas, self-directed critiques, and a few outside-constructive criticisms are simply too much to bear.
Yesterday, I tried to write about the return of my dreams, something which has begun since the start of October, after abandoning a post about how grumpy I was. When that post didn’t work, I tried to write about Samhain, but started to sound very Pagan 101 textbook-y, so I tossed it.
I don’t do textbook on this blog, and I’m not sure I really subscribe to the textbook approach to religion in general. I’m more a Socratic method kind of guy.
But some people want simple, effective recipes for how to make their spirituality come to life, how to become creative again, how to do the perfect spell to take their blues away. They want a spirituality instruction manual. And if that works for them, cool.
For me, though, nothing ever seems that paint-by-the-numbers. A spiritual practice, just like a good education, is always much messier and achier than that.
When you write a blog (and I know that many of my readers do, and some are considering starting up their own), you have to make some decisions about your audience. Do you want to engage with them? Do you want to preach to them? Do you want to show them how much you know?
What are you presuming about them? Are they less informed than you about your given topic (i.e. Druidry, Paganism, needlework — whatever you’re writing about), or are you going to treat them like peers?
These are questions that one doesn’t ask just once, either. Recently, as I’ve dipped my toes into the drafting of columns for print, I’ve come face to face with a different audience, one which may not engage with my writing in the same way that you do here on the blog. Print is not as immediately interactive as digital writing; your audience doesn’t post a response to what you’ve written, and you have to operate with this understanding that your writing is going to sit somewhere on a shelf, bound within the covers, static.
So I feel now, after having considered this new kind of writing and this new audience, that I’ve forgotten how to write here. I’ve forgotten what we talk about, or what you want to read about. I’ve been asking this question, what do they want to read about?, and the question has solidified around the mushiness of my writing muscles, like some calcified shell.
It’s like a cast, except I can’t write my well-wishes on it with a Sharpie, because I left all my pens at home.
(Or something like that.)
Writing about Pagan religiosity, in all of its divergent and differently-named forms, to an audience of Pagans can be tricky. You can write to explain some archaic history that might be relevant to a fraction of your readership, if that’s your thing. Or you can write directly from your tradition’s perspective, but that can become kind of insular and inside joke-ish. If you pass on those two approaches, you seem left with the Pagan 101/Recipe/Textbook/How-to pieces.
I try to write about what I know, or at least what I’m questioning. I find that writing about my experiences is much easier than answering the question, what do they want to read?
But I still have to ask…
What do you want to read?
When you visit this blog — any blog — what are you looking for? Do you want testimonials about lived experiences? Accounts of ritual, whether they be successful or fall-on-your-face-like? Do you want to read about the nuts and bolts of someone’s practice?
Now, take a second and consider what you want to read when you pick up a Pagan magazine or book. Does it differ from what you look for in a blog? If so, how? Do you read words differently off the page, and do you have different standards for inky writers?
Please, enlighten me. Shine a little light on the inside of your reader’s brain. Throw this writer a digital bone.