Leaving for a week at Topsail in 4 days.
William and I had a great, very helpful discussion the other day. He helped me talk through these problems I'm having with focus and approach to work and all that. What he heard was a lot of confusion about priorities in my topics of interest, and in the way I want to structure my days. Sort of obvious, I guess, but it was so helpful to hear him reflect back what he was hearing.
It's hard to capture all that, so I'll jump to the bottom line. I know without question, if I had to choose one central theme to focus on, it would be race and class. I am invigorated and driven to write about other topics as well, of course: foreign policy, Presidential campaign politics, LGBT issues, campaign finance, local politics, and many more. And the whole question of civil discourse is fascinating to me, and I feel I have something to contribute to a dialogue on that, and on all the bedrock liberal issues I named.
But I am driving myself crazy trying to keep up with the news - and my personality being what it is, and my avocation being what it is, it's hard for me to turn away from current events altogether, and hard for me to get riled up about an issue without wanting to spin out a post, or an email, or facebook blog, or to have a big discussion about it over wine or beers.
So I need to let go - I need to see events come and go, trust all the smart people who are writing about these things, talk amongst my family and friends about them if I want, but not feel I have to take on each one, research it, and write something cogent. This energy I have, this drive to address issues and communicate about them, it's a good thing. William definitely has to push himself to see that me watching cable news is not a bad thing. Oh, my gosh, that's such a funny dynamic to think about - who can blame him for saying, Julie, just change the channel. But when I say this he does appreciate what I'm saying: that burning reaction, that outrage, that argumentation, it's who I am, it's what gets me up in the morning and makes me feel invigorated, and, it's a good thing as long as I can channel it.
I feel like my writing ability still has a long way to go, and even if I narrow my focus, there is still so much to be learned and said. There is still going to be the challenge of learning to balance the long term, thoroughly researched major work I hope to do about race and class in America against the the topical, immediate issues that come up on the same subject. I want to blog on those issues to keep my skills sharp, to improve my writing, to keep abreast of what's happening, to eventually develop a name for myself in the field, and to always learn, learn, learn - to deepen my understanding.
The most concise example of this juxtaposition I can think of is about voting rights. I can't ignore the Voter ID movement happening right now, state by state. I want to stay current on the status of these laws, and on the arguments for and against them. But I am also deeply connected, intellectually and emotionally, to the historical context of this issues. From Reconstruction and Jim Crow, to various suffrage movements, to the mid-20th century fight for voting rights, to the present day, I am drawn to research and read about the development of the inner-city classes and how that concept pertains to access to the ballot, and then try to use my skills (obviously not evident in this free-flowing post) to translate that and make it accessible to people who don't normally think about it. It is so hard for some people to understand why you can't just say, okay, starting now, everybody has to have a government-issued photo ID by election day.
Ach, I'm wearing myself out even right now. Writing sentences that should have been separated into three. Hey, I didn't say I was there yet with the focus and the discipline and the structure. But that's my little task for vacation, and I relish it. As is my wont several times a year, I am filled with the excited feeling of, hey, when I get back from the beach - LOOK OUT WORLD!!!