Monday, March 26, 2012

Moving On, Or Sitting Still

Well, I've done it. After nearly three years of writing a weekly column for my local newspaper, I have finally decided to take a hiatus. "Finally," I say, because I have been thinking about doing this for a few months but couldn't bring myself to actually follow through.

I love having a column—there are things I'd like to say to my community, and this space on the editorial page has allowed me to speak up. For the most part, I have avoided politics and only touched on it in vague terms. During the 2008 election, I wrote generally about how I don't want a "Joe Six Pack" character as my president. I want someone with an education, with nuanced thoughts and capable of eloquence representing my country to the world and minding the store at home. And that column branded me a left-winger in the minds of the local right-wingers, as did my occasional rant against Ohio's penchant for the death penalty. When I wrote on that subject, a few locals called me "stupid," even in print.

But beyond those issues, I have stuck to writing about non-political current events like NASA's Mars rover, arts in the schools and the history of women's rights. I have honored a few heroes like a couple of suffragettes, Mark Twain and Marie Curie. I have reminisced about lessons my parents did and didn't teach me, and I have paid tribute to favorite books and movies—most recently being Casablanca, and not long ago To Kill A Mockingbird.

I have saved every column I have ever had printed, and as I have received notes from readers, I have attached the notes to the columns. I have also posted each column at an Open Salon blog, and several of them have been singled out as Editor's Picks. Always fun when that happens.

But...there comes a time when you just can't write another column no matter how much you enjoy it and no matter how many people tell you to keep writing. I'm tired. So, I have told my editor that I need a break of at least a month if not two; and when/if I decide to start up again, we'll discuss whether or not he has room in the paper for me, non-political writer that I am. Between now and voting day in November, I suspect people will either be fever-pitched about their politics or be hungry for something other than delegate counts and conventions and campaigns. We'll see.

What do I do, now? I ask myself that and think I'll do several things, beyond playing with the big puppy. I'll work part-time as a typesetter for Husband's company, and I'll focus my energies on the local orchestra. I'm on the board now, so there is a lot to do behind the scenes in addition to playing my part on stage. I'm working on several time-consuming projects at the moment, and when those are finished, I'll catch my breath, regroup, redefine, refit.

But mainly, I'll work at not defining myself by my activities. Easier said than done. Since I started this column thing, I have answered that usual question "what do you do?" with "I write a weekly column for a newspaper." I was proud to say it, but now I'll have to be proud to say "I do this and that." And the this and that doesn't define me.

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