Just one year ago, I started this blog. Sure, I was late to the blogging party–so late, in fact, that most bloggers were well into the dessert course, making money off of their legions of followers. But I don’t blog for any potential of pecuniary reward. After years of people asking me why I didn’t blog, I had just finally decided that I had both the time and the inclination to jump onboard.
This blog has ever been just an attempt to work out publicly some of my private ideas and thoughts, whether they had to do with politics, society, religion, or more. It also became a place to try my hand at flash fiction and poetry, experimenting with new voices and settings and subjects. Some worked well; other not so much. Still, if you read through it all, you’ll know a lot more about me than most.
I’m proud of this blog and the 85 (!) posts that have gone up in the last year. At any given time, I have about 2/3 that amount sitting in the Drafts hopper, waiting to be added to, finessed, shaped, and edited. Or, because I’m a ruthless self-editor, waiting to be trashed, never to see the light of day.
As with any of my social media accounts, some blog posts weren’t meant for everyone, though I obviously have no problem with anyone reading them. Some–especially the Scotland and England vacation recap series–were really just so I had a written record before I forgot it all.
Some posts were unbelievably hard to write, with content I just needed to get on the page so I could get it out of my head and sleep easier at night. Those posts, filled with an honesty so real and just a bit raw, were painful to share. I actually did stare at the “publish” button for long moments before I dared to press it, and then left the computer immediately after posting to Twitter and Facebook. But, wouldn’t you know it? Those posts were usually my most popular ones, which just goes to show that we all have raw and/or newly scabbed places inside each of us. Not one of us has gotten this far in life unscathed.
If I hadn’t started this blog when I did, my parents would likely have never gotten a chance to read my writing, as the chance of me writing and publishing either of my two in-progress novels within their lifetimes is slim. After years of bemoaning my decision back in my high school years NOT to become a lawyer, and after years of them having no idea what my status as a freelance writer and editor meant, I think it was a blessing for all of us that they had the opportunity to not just read my work, but love it too. I don’t think any of us can underestimate our continued need to get the approval of our parents throughout our life, as much as we might chafe against it.
Some of my posts got shared far and wide, and I was privileged to have a few of my “Jewish” posts start some fascinating conversations. Religion, and especially my own, has led to a lot of personal contemplation over the years, and I’m pretty proud of the posts that I think elucidated those thoughts very well.
If there’s one thing that I couldn’t have ever imagined when I started ChallaandHaggis last year, it’s just where my poem, “Unless You Know,” would take me. Reading it now, most people would never guess just how many iterations it went through, how many times the words got moved from here to there and back again, and just how helpful some of my “beta” readers on it were. I’d never been quite able to adequately explain how growing up Jewish, with the specter of the Holocaust still looming after 30 years, affected my feelings for my religion, which I’d often admitted was one mainly of guilt. This poem does it, and does it well. And I knew that before I read it in front of my Temple congregation, with many people coming up to me afterwards to tell me how it affected them. I even knew it before I was contacted for permission to let organizers read the poem at the Yom HaShoah commemoration at the Memorial to the Six Million at Greenwood Cemetery in Atlanta. I knew it because, as I wrote it, and as I read it many times afterward, I could not stop the tears rolling down my cheeks. I am my toughest critic: If I impressed myself, I was bound to impress others.
This past year has been a learning year, both on and off the blog. Some of my posts are pure twiddle-twaddle (see “Taking Back My Words”), while others are points of pride. Whatever success they met with, or didn’t, I wouldn’t change a thing. My writing has gotten better; my voice has grown stronger. And I’ve got more big things planned for the year ahead.