I began to write this blog in September, 2009, the year I turned 40. Back then I was beginning to think that if I found any more excuses for not writing more regularly I might explode. I had written a novel, a handful of stories and poems, and a small number of personal essays, and fairly satisfied with the results of my efforts, I believed that I was finally getting to a place in my life where I would have the confidence to present my writing to an audience beyond, but not excluding, my immediate circle of friends and family. Blogging was new to me, but a format I soon learned worked very well to help keep me motivated. Feedback from readers was a gift and it is still integral to the process of my slow growth as a personal essayist, for essays are what I seem to create week in and week out on this blog. I read several other people's blogs and enjoy the online community we seem to have created -writing is lonely work and I am in need of companionship just as much as the next person. I would not call this community a writer's group; we do not critique each other's style but merely read and comment, sharing thoughts on the subject at hand. I would not mind critique, in fact I would welcome it, but no one besides myself seems to want to give me any at this point.
While visualizing my blog - before I embark on something requiring a fair amount of effort I have to be able to see myself doing it - I came up with a name for the whole project: Letters to the World. My thoughts and perceptions would come together and be presented as personal essays, but I would think of them more as personal letters, a form of correspondence between me and anyone out there in the world who cared to read my fledgling creations, and one being lost in this age of instant digital communication. (Thinking of my posts as letters also took the pressure off me to present academically acceptable essays.)
Soon after I began my blogging project, I Googled my blog to see if it would appear. At the top of the list of found items under my search for 'letters to the world,' was a poem by the Massachusetts poet and recluse, Emily Dickinson. I felt a sort of kinship with Emily through her poem, and I could sense her reaching out to the world from which she hid for the most part, but touched in a way perhaps not possible through any personal interaction. Although Emily could be speaking on a number of levels at once, I believe that in her poem she embraces all of us writers, more than a century later, sitting in front of our computer screens attempting to do the same.
THIS is my letter to the world,
That never wrote to me,--
The simple news that Nature told,
With tender majesty.
Her message is committed
To hands I cannot see;
For love of her, sweet countrymen,
Judge tenderly of me!
Emily published only seven poems in her lifetime. After her death, her family discovered 40 handbound volumes of nearly 1800 of her poems. She and Walt Whitman are paired as 'founders of a uniquely American poetic voice.' (poets.org)
Over at Stella's Virtual Cafe, there's a little story and a great recipe for Chocolate Zucchini Snacking Cake.