For those of you have joined my blog after August and watching Julie and Julia, you will know that it has only occured to me in the last few months that blogging is just another form of writing, and I am a writer. At first, a year or so ago, it seemed like foreign territory. I was a picture book writer, not a blogger for an invisible audience of adults.
But a couple of weeks ago I went to a local SCBWI event and listened to Annie Fox speak. One of her main messages in a talk that was so informative about use of the internet..the tweet, the blog, the fan clubs, etc, was that we shouldn't separate one type of writing from another.
I'm still thinking about this, with full knowledge that I am the first to put a label on myself for the sake of having some kind of identity. So, when I started a novel a year or more (I'm sure) ago, I felt my heart beat faster and some kind of grade school mentality creep in that said, "You can't do this. You are a picture book writer, not a novel writer, or a chapter book writer." The voice didn't think to say, "You're a writer, you can do this." And I have decided that if we make each change in our work a bigger step in our minds, filled with fear, our ego has a chance to say..."Wow, look at you. You are trying to write a novel!" When, in truth, I'm just writing in a different voice about a different subject.
So, something in my brain keeps saying for the sake of my ego that writing in different genres is a brave leap, instead of saying, "You're in the same house, for heaven's sake...all you have to do is go to another room and look out a different window."
If you want to know how ridiculous this can all be, I have been a book illustrator for almost 20 years, and moving into gallery art has felt like a big leap. It is just a change in packaging, and getting to know other editors (gallery owners) and other critiquers (buyers). Some of my visions come out in books, and some come out in "wall art", but they are still art, and whether they are landscapes or folk art, they still tell a story. And I think that is one of the basic goals of humans...to tell their story.
Annie's talk was a breath of fresh air in a time when we have been taught to claim our identity with a label of what we do, who we work for, and how "successful" we are. I am finding a great admiration for those who do not walk a straight line into fame, but let themselves head into different arenas, even if they feel like they might not be on a path any longer. Steve Jobs has a great talk hosted through www.ted.com, in which he speaks about how we cannot connect the dots in our life looking forward, only looking back. I think it has been, along with Annie's talk, one of the most inspiring talks I have listened to.
And, speaking of being on the path, do you remember the story of Little Red Riding Hood. She got in big trouble getting off the path. She met the wolf, picked flowers, etc....and that all gave her a great story to tell. so for those of you who have strayed off the beaten path, not pigeon-holed yourselves, I say congratulations...you have a most interesting story.