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Hello, from Alcatraz

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Checking in to say hi. OK, I'm addicted, too.
When I first started doing commentaries for All Things Considered, I was on a streak of sorts. I can only recognize that fact by looking back on it. Somehow, my editors liked the stuff I was writing, accepted more pieces than they rejected, and I became used to being on the program once a month, sometimes even more.
I had a number of people--friends and friends of friends and complete strangers who looked me up on the Net--ask me how they could get on the air, too. I gave them the best advice I could. I thought I had some kind of magic key.
I didn't.
All spring, all summer, I've been submitting pieces as I always did. Every one, not quite right. Or a lot wrong. Sometimes, in my lowest moments, I think that blogging and writing have become competitors for my attention, and blogging has won. In blogging, I've taken a lot of joy in photography, in showing pictures of the things that enchant me. Then, I write things about the picture, captions really. Embroidering the edges.
As a painter, I've always found that along with the soaring joy of creating something from nothing comes a deep and crushing doubt. Rare is the painting that is made in the pure light of joy...most of the time, in the early stages, I think, "This is just crap. Why did I ever start this thing? I might as well be painting with my foot."
And so I've walked through the dark halls of denial that there must be something wrong with the commentaries I'm submitting, and arrived at the door marked GET TO WORK. I'm trying to figure out what the early pieces had that these current ones don't. It falls under the heading of Mojo, an indefinable spark, an unexpected take, a flash of real humor. All summer long, I've been grabbing at the inspirational cat under the bed. We know that doesn't work--it just retreats farther into the dusty reaches. Now, I'm taking the bed apart.
I like hearing from you; I obviously like blogging, and I miss doing it. Got the bones of a piece put down this morning before daylight that has some potential...

From Alcatraz,

Some of them are pretty good, but they're still captions.


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