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The Best Parts of the Old Me

February 23, 2010

I’m on Day 7 of my 40 Days of Blogging project, and it’s starting to feel like that first phase of a new exercise routine. It’s a whole lot easier, and it’s starting to get fun.

I had my topic in mind by noon today, so now as I sit down to do the writing, it is just a matter of sifting through the words and letting the right ones rise to the top.

Good things have already started to happen. I’m staying up later and getting more done. A friend was inspired to finally start her own blog. I feel closer to my mother-in-law even though nothing substantive has changed.

Most importantly, I feel a renewed kinship between who I used to be and who I’ve become. Since the idea for this post started with some thoughts about old media and new media and what they can learn from each other, I guess old me and new me is not a bad place to begin.

Here’s something I bet no one who reads this blog or follows me on Twitter had any idea about me: I used to be in a gospel choir.

Yeah, me. Yes, I do realize I am white. Believe me, I felt it keenly then, too – until, that is, we began to sing.

Singing with 100 other people who were also belting out songs older than most of us could trace our heritage – who were using not just our voices but their entire beings – is an experience like no other. We didn’t just produce the music. We were the music. Our performances shook the high school auditorium that became a hall of worship in the truest sense of the word. The songs were not just heard but literally felt – in the chairs, in our hands, in the vibrations of the very air in the room.

I’ve come close to piece of that feeling only a couple of times since then, back in the ninth grade: tasting the raw emotion in a graduate creative writing workshop, smelling the ideas in a serious brainstorming session with colleagues, seeing our future shift the moment my son was born.

In some ways, I almost get there in that moment when I finish writing one of these posts and reread it for the first time. I know I’m about to hit publish, and that in that instant it will become something beyond my mind and my experience that will live a life of its own.

Will Placencia (@miamime) of Latin Trade said something today on a panel for PRSA that sums up what this new media project has begun to do to resurrect the best of the old me. Something along the lines of this:

“I believe traditonal media has lost its way. I feel and hope we are evolving back, partly through new media, to a renewed, closer connection with those we serve and how they want to interact with the content we provide.”

He was talking about magazines, but he could have been talking about me.

I’ve always been a little scared to call myself a writer, even though I haven’t stopped doing it since the first time I wrote my name and the date at the top of a page. Even though my output of words in an average week is probably in the tens of thousands, I somehow stopped really loving writing when it became so solidly transactional: a proposal, a press release, marketing copy, e-mails, Tweets.

This project is admittedly a sort of transaction – me delivering on a promise to deliver a daily blog. It is also me finally fulfilling my first writing teacher’s admonition: write every day.

Ultimately, it is my way of joining the choir of other writers online and realizing in the course of singing that I am one of them – and that, beyond our own voices, we are all also one with the song.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Melissa Venable permalink
    February 25, 2010 3:31 pm

    I really like your comparison of writing (thru blogging) to singing in a choir. So many different voices and perspectives – all adding to the mix. Thanks for sharing your personal story and insight!

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