Starting in May 2021, my birthday month, I wanted to be sure that I posted something fresh and meaningful. I’ve grown weary of remixing retreads 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. But, as I’ve spent about a year condensing and revising my archives, I’ve found there’s little left to explore from my past works.
In recent weeks, I’ve grown increasingly frustrated how many wasted words I’ve created. Re-reading many of my failed efforts often brings back wistful memories of trying to be many different things. In doing so, I often found myself failing miserably at nearly all of them.
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, but now 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. Today, I fear I’ve settled in as a casual essayist who reminisces too much about my article writing days.
Of course, most article writers, as I was for over a decade, never make a fortune. What often survives is a wide variety of eclectic articles, essays, poems, and quotables, often scattered and unrelated. For the longest time, I felt each piece I posted online represents a part of me and of my past which I still treasure. On the other hand, it didn’t make much sense to keep most of my articles posted that served no other purpose than to remind me of past failures. Even the best of what no longer remains were meager successes at best that served only to collect pennies and nickels when I should’ve been focusing more on my development as a creative writer.
Therefore, whatever doesn’t serve my overall creative development – such as my countless articles about trading card games – I’ve decided to archive away, likely to never again see the light of day. For my essays and poetry, I decided to keep my better work out in the public eye. Rather than let complacency keep me locked into a daily trance of posting content that is no longer up to my ever more demanding standards, it’s time I buckle down and tend to wacking the weeds that I’ve let overgrow and stagnate my creative endeavors.
I accept that I may never rank well in search engines with this strategy. But, I’m no longer concerned with trending topics and certainly not anything that was written for the purpose of affiliate program sales, which I no longer am a part of at all. While it may seem that all these words will go to waste, they served their purpose and will remain a part of my permanent archives. Still, I occasionally find some pieces which deserve to be polished and released once again, and so they shall.
Gone from my archives, though, are many of my time-sensitive 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. Some will remain backdated from the last time they were actually updated, but some will evolve along with the rest of my published online content.
Writing in different, often unrelated genres and styles is something I’ve grown accustomed to, and this was purposeful. All my life I struggled 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. I still wonder 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. While I still could post daily for years just skimming through my archives, I’ve decided to take a step back from posting daily. It’s past due time that I focus on quality over quantity, although I will still create photo and “quotable” posts regularly on 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. Indeed, 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, while remixing and updating older content as I see fit, 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