Writer’s tunnel vision
One of the best things about moving to Vietnam is that I am able to take writing seriously. I would say that it’s because I finally have the time, but the truth is probably closer to – I don’t have any excuses now. There isn’t a job getting in the way, and I don’t have to worry about how I’m going to pay rent.
I’m not an aspiring novelist. I have no desire to write a play or movie. I have never written a poem. When people ask me what I write, my best answer has been, “I like to travel and then write about it.” I’ve learned that it’s more than that. I am not really a travel writer. I’m more interested in people’s stories, the differences in cultures, good food, and the crazy things about real life that you just can’t make up.
Right now, my job is to learn to be a writer. Since I don’t have what writers call a work in progress, my blog is where most of my writing goes. Therefore, I read everything I can about blogging. (Kristen Lamb’s blog is one of the most practical and informative ones I’ve come across.)
Looking back through this blog, I cringe at a lot of my posts. I was all over the place writing about whatever I felt like that day. If your blog is an online journal, great, but if you want to attract readers and keep them, this isn’t going to work. It makes sense to me; if I like to read about a certain topic but it only comes up once a month in someone’s blog, it’s not going to take me long to quit reading.
So, I’m trying to focus my writing. Trying to figure out what I like to write about, what people like to read, what themes I can maintain for more than a few weeks or months. I don’t want to pigeonhole myself so I have nothing to write about when I move back to Atlanta and need a job. (My kept-lady status is going to expire then.)
But, I fear that in all my focusing my lens has gotten too small. I go too many days without writing because I don’t have the time, energy, photos, or information to write a fully developed post about the night market on Langkawi or what it’s like to be a shaved headed woman in Asia. I leave out so many details of life (which I’m pretty sure we would all find interesting) because I don’t know how they fit into my categories. I feel like I can’t write about more than one thing in a post.
I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to go back to rambling about what I had for lunch (though it is generally much more interesting here than anywhere else), but I don’t like how things are going right now.
While I’m waiting to figure all of this out, though, I’ll do a brief, real-life catch-up:
I’m leaving on Sunday night to go home. I bought a ticket to Bangkok, and from there it will be Delta standby to Narita and then JFK. I added JFK to the itinerary when I saw that the flights there looked better than the ones to Atlanta and that I could squeeze in a side trip to see loved ones.
I’ll be leaving four days earlier than planned and my mind races between the excitement of seeing everyone and everything I’ve been missing for the last eight months and the sadness of leaving Jonathan for almost a month. Funny how quickly you get used to seeing each other every day after years of seeing each other whenever you can manage it.
Tonight we said goodbye to our friend Charity, the 18th person to enjoy our guest room. We had a great visit – went to Phu Quoc Island for a night, ate a lot of tasty food, got massages, and tackled the Ben Thanh Market. I’m so proud of her for coming all this way (first time across the pond) by herself.
Prior to Charity’s visit, the last month or so has included three weeks with Jonathan’s parents (including a trip to Malaysia,) a night with my brother Israel on his third pass through here, and a few days in Hong Kong visiting Jonathan’s cousin.
It’s 3:08am and Jonathan is making coffee before work. I haven’t slept – partially from thinking about going home, partially because I was near the end of a good book, and partially because I had to get words out on paper. I broke my rule and wrote about two completely unrelated topics in one post.
I need advice from readers and writers. I need to find a balance between my free yet disorganized posts of the past and my organized but often restrictive and sporadic posts of the present. I know part of it is lack of discipline and good writing habits, and would appreciate your tips on improving both of these things. I know it’s going to be hard to keep writing while I’m traveling for the next month, and I think that figuring out this glitch in my system will help.
I have a feeling if I wasn’t doing so much of this I might get more writing done :-P