The last couple days, maybe the last couple weeks, have been harder than usual. This time of year is usually hard for me because we grow most of our own food, and this is harvest, canning, and freezing time, as well as back-to-school, which means that my professor-husband is not around as much to help with everything. This is normally my annual panic time, but this year is even worse than usual because I have a book coming out later this month, and my next book is due in January.
And then life has a way of throwing some curve balls at me -- you, too, I'm sure. That's just life. There are so many things about which I'd love to vent right now -- the man who blurted at me that you can't feed the world with organic food, the bizarre house guest, or my daughter's irrational college roommate. All of these things take emotional energy and mental storage space. I should be working on my next book or freezing tomatoes or at least knocking off a few things from my ever-growing, to-do list, such as the 30-minute keynote that I'm doing Sunday night. And then I realize that I'm falling behind on two of my blogs, and the urge is to write about what's on my mind, but is it really a good idea?
I've been writing for publication my entire adult life, and even in my teen years, if my high school newspaper counts, and one thing I learned early on is that your editor is not your therapist. The rest of the world really does not want to hear about your little day-to-day troubles, and a good editor won't publish rants or vomit essays. When I started blogging on Antiquity Oaks in 2006, I never really made a conscious decision about complaining. It was just a given that I wasn't going to whine on the blog.
In today's world, everyone can publish their thoughts to the world without an editor to strike out snarky sentences or nix an entire essay that seems pointless in the grand scheme of life. There may not even be an informal friend-editor in your life to say, "Are you really sure you want to share this?" I'm not saying that any particular topics are off limits. I am saying that -- as with food -- it's all about presentation. Although no one wants to hear a blow-by-blow recounting of the man who started an argument with me, he did make me think about some very important points that will find their way into my upcoming talks on Why Homegrown and Handmade. My bizarre house guest gave me fresh insight into how clueless most Americans are about their food. And the roommate situation is causing me to revisit the information I taught in college about conflict resolution.
Great writers have shared extremely personal moments in their lives, but they did it in such a way as to find common ground with their readers. They went beyond venting. They looked for deeper meaning in their experiences. When you read a vomit essay (one where the author just blows it all out), you finish and say, "Wow, she had a bad day." But when you read a really good essay on a personal topic, you identify with the writer, and when you're done, the deeper meaning and the universal truths stick with you. Do I always succeed at this? I doubt it. But it's a good goal.