For my birthday in 2021, I wanted to be sure that I posted something meaningful and not just a retread from my vast writing archives. When I first began my website, The Phoenix Desertsong, I did intend for it to reflect upon many years of my work over many different genres and formats. As I’ve spent about a year condensing and revising my archives, I still find there’s so much left to explore from my past. It’s also frustrating how many wasted words I’ve created and re-reading through many of my failed efforts often bring back wistful memories of trying to be so many different things and in doing so, failing miserably at nearly all of them.
There are many eras of my writing that I’ve been combing through. My successes included writing about trading card games such as Magic the Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh, and the Pokemon Trading Card Game, so many of these articles have been working their way into my posting schedule in one form or another. Also, despite my inevitable failings as a sportswriter, there are some posts that have performed well online over the years and those will also be making an appearance over time.
What remains painful for me is rediscovering my old poetry and journals. Much of these haven’t aged well, as is often the case for many writers. I expected to be able to post hundreds upon hundreds of my poems, though the majority of them I no longer feel are even worthy of existing anymore, let alone being reintroduced to the internet. This is also true for many of my essays, and today, I would say I’ve settled in as a casual essayist who still occasionally reminisces about my article writing days.
Of course, most article writers, like me, never make a fortune. What often survives is a wide variety of eclectic articles, essays, poems, and quotables, often scattered and unrelated. But, each piece that I post represents a part of me and of my past which I still treasure. While I could certainly archive all these things away to never again see the light of day, it seems fairer to me to keep my better work out in the public eye. I’ve come to accept that I may never rank well in search engines with this strategy, but I’m no longer concerned with that. I didn’t write all these words for them to go to waste, and while many of them have, many more deserve to be polished and released once again.
Gone are many of my timely news pieces, as are many of my scrapped poems and essays that never really went anywhere. What has remained are things that are more historical and analytical in nature, things that won’t easily go out of date, and those that easily could remain as a reminder of where I was in life at one point. Some will remain backdated from the last time they were actually updated, but many more will evolve along with the rest of my online content.
Writing in different, often unrelated genres and styles is something I’ve grown accustomed to, and this is purposeful. All my life I was struggling to find a niche where I could make a living as a writer. Now, I’m at a point in my life where my writing no longer needs to support me financially. What I haven’t decided just yet is what to do with my short stories and aborted novel projects. I may still do as I initially intended with those and publish them for real, although I don’t have any expectations for making profitable sales. Some will inevitably be published for free on my website, but many more will be for sale – likely for an affordable amount, as profit is no longer my motivation.
I’ve entered a new phase of my life over the past year and get to share it with Thomas Slatin, the most wonderful human being I could’ve ever dreamed of meeting. But, I will never stop writing. Now that I am no longer dependent upon clicks or meet assignment deadlines, I can be at ease with just writing when it feels right. The good news is I still could post daily for years just skimming through my archives, so for now, I’ll continue to have daily posts, with photo and “quotable” posts serving as placeholders for the days I don’t happen to feel up to posting anything substantial.
The more I think about my career as a professional writer, I realize I wasn’t actually a failure, since I have plenty to show for my decade plus writing online and much more that was written during my high school and college years. I’ll continue to post my current musings, but I seem to get just as much enjoyment remixing and updating older content, too.
When was the last time you looked back at things you produced years ago? Would you feel OK about republishing any of it? It’s always good to look back and see just how much you’ve grown over time. The exercise is both humbling and productive for me and continues to fuel my growth as an artist of the written word. I hope to pursue my other amateur pursuit of photography much more intently in the coming years, so you’ll get to enjoy a little of both mediums more often.
Take care and enjoy the words and images I have to share!
~ Amelia Phoenix Desertsong