My Own True Words


know that these are my own true words
even if your approval is my sacrifice
— Rachael Sage, “Sacrifice

“I hate blogging. There. I said it.”

Obviously, there was no way I was going to ignore that status that a writer friend had posted on Facebook.

“Interesting. Why?”

Me, I love blogging.

I’m lousy at it, for any number of reasons. I write sloppily here. My posts aren’t all finely crafted jewels. I’m inconsistent about how frequently I post. I don’t do anything to increase my audience. I don’t have an overarching theme that defines the blog.

But that’s exactly why I love blogging. It’s writing, at its purest.

So I was intrigued by why Laura, a writer, would hate writing. Not only hate writing, but hate pure writing, with no obligations. After all, she writes a pretty decent blog.

The problem, she revealed, is that she writes her blog with a purpose, and the purpose isn’t to write. She writes it as “a platform for my fiction,” she explained, using the blog in hopes that it will make it easier to get a novel published. The blog is essentially another obligation, a part of building a brand in order to become a published author. It’s work.

And she’s not the only one. She cited a blog post I had also read recently by author Don Miller, “To Kill A Blog.”

Miller, the author of a million books, including the quintessential Christian Revolutionary tome “Blue Like Jazz,” had this to say:

So lately I’ve been considering killing the blog. And in a way, the idea terrifies me, because the old adage “publish or perish” is true, and in an age where people aren’t reading books, the adage might as well be “blog or perish” and soon will be “twitter or perish” and I am sure this will all be replaced with an even more brief and perhaps visual way to communicate with each other.

The writing life has changed. And my fear is the true craft is dead.

So the question is, do you publish (blog) what people will read, or hone a craft and publish hard-earned books that may never be read? I’m leaning toward the good book unread.

So here’s a question? What writers have you read this year who have no online presence? Does it honestly make a difference to you?

I wondered how much of Laura’s worry is valid concern, and how much is uncertainty caused by changing times. I’ve seen several people turn blogs into books, but it’s generally a literal transition; they write a blog, it becomes popular, and a publisher binds it so they can all make money off of it. I’m not aware of authors who publish books based on unrelated blogs, but maybe I just don’t pay enough attention to those sorts of things.

And the crossover seems to me to be even less true in fiction. I’d be hard-pressed to name any fiction authors who were known first because of their blogs. Again, maybe I’m just out of the loop, but who are the fiction bloggers turned authors?

There seem to be two major types of blogs — thematic, and personal. For a while, I kept a space blog, a place that was dedicated to news and commentary about space and space exploration. To be sure, these are the types of blogs that are more likely to turn into book deals. Now, I keep a personal blog, a place where I write what’s going on with me and what I’m thinking. Myself, I’m more likely to follow the latter type, even if they don’t get people published.

I blog because I enjoy blogging.

In the morning, I go to work, and sell words to NASA. I come home, and write words that I owe the University of Nebraska. I craft words, made to order, for other people, to make the shareholders, from my editor to the readers, happy.

My blog is for me. I own it, completely. It’s what I want to write, when I want to write it, and nothing else. It’s the blank sheet of paper that I can put anything on I want, without having to worry about whether anybody else likes it.

I write because I’m a writer. It’s what I do. I enjoy putting words together.

I’m blessed that I make money doing it. But if I didn’t, I would do something else for money, and write anyway, for the love of writing. Not for money. Not for fame. Not for being published. But for writing. When writers lose sight of that, they become craftsmen.

My advice to Laura, and to any other writers?

Write what you love. Love to write.

If you can reach a point where your main writing is what you love to write, then awesome. You’ve made it. Life doesn’t get better than that.

But for the rest of us, it doesn’t necessarily work that way. Our main writing is at least as much to please others as to please ourselves.

So find an outlet that is for you. Keep a journal. Start a second blog if you have to. If you feel like you have to write something in particular for someone else, be it to pay the bills or to get published or to get famous, then that’s fine. But NEVER stop writing for yourself. Because it’s the only thing that will keep you sane. If you don’t own any of your own words, if you don’t write any of them just for yourself, there’s nothing of yourself left in the writing.

And you’re not a writer anymore.

There’s a huge difference between Michelangelo and the guy that paints the walls of your house. As a writer, which do you want to be?

Whatever you do, never, ever stop writing for yourself. Always write something that you would still write if you knew no one would ever read it, something you would write because the very act of writing it makes you happy, fulfills the fact that somewhere deep in your soul that has nothing to do with publishing or readers or money, you are a writer.

Scrubbed Again


I’d gotten spoiled.

For a while there, I felt like I was cursed. There was the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter launch that I missed seeing live by just one day, after extending my trip to spend another morning on the causeway. There was the STS-114 landing that took place in California while I was on-site in Florida. There was the STS-121 launch that I got rained on and sunburned both, only to see it on television after finally making it back home in a rental car after the car of the friends I rode with broke down. There were those days that I spent in Florida waiting for STS-122 to not launch, costing me a unique chance to land in a plane on the shuttle runway in the process.

And then, last year, it all changed. STS-125 launched on the scheduled day (well, ignoring over a year of delays before the launch date I went down for). Ares I-X had its share of triboelectrification delays, but still was kind enough to leave the ground while I was present for it. Earlier this year, both STS-130 and -131 launched, not without snags, but without too many snags.

I was golden.

I was hoping maybe things had changed. Maybe recent changes had worked out some kinks, and the whole space launch process was smoother. After all, I couldn’t go down for STS-132 earlier this year because of my brother’s graduation, but it, also, launched in an agreeably timely fashion.

But, as they say, all good things must come to an end.

The original Monday launch date was scrubbed before we left town, but it was just pushed back to Tuesday, so we went ahead and got in the car for Florida. Tuesday turned into Thursday, and bad weather turned Thursday into Friday. Friday came, and became the end of the month.

Which, you know, is fine. It’s less frustrating to me to miss a launch by weeks, or months, than a day or two. There’s nothing worse than knowing that if you had just waited a little bit longer, you would have seen it. I spent longer in Florida on this trip than I have any other, but there was no way we were going to make it until NET Nov. 30.

We also never had to actually go out and wait on the Causeway for the scrub this time, all of the problems were kind enough to occur well in advance this time, freeing up time for other Florida activities, which I may end up writing more about later.

In fact, with the exception of a very brief trip to the Kennedy Visitors Center and a thwarted effort to see the shuttle on the pad at night, the closest I got to seeing the shuttle on this trip was the LEGO set in the picture above.

But, as I’ve said before, you know, this is the way it works. This past week was just as much a part of the spaceflight experience as my last four trips. I hate that the people I was traveling with got the bad side versus the good side of that experience, though it could have been worse; Disney was a much more agreeable place to spend a non-launch than hours at the riverside.

And, frankly, knowing that this will be the last time she’ll leave Earth, I can’t blame Discovery for not wanting the adventure to be ending.

Maybe if they’d offer her STS-135, she’ll be more agreeable.