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Writing for the Long Scrawl
No more word salad here
You may have noticed a name change. Word Salad Newsletter is now The Long Scrawl. Here’s the why and the wherefore:
When I launched this particular writing project in 2020, I did so with small ambitions. With the impending move from San Francisco to Portugal, I was preparing for change of a kind I had never before experienced. I wanted to remember it in all its pain and glory.
At first I thought about keeping a paper journal. I have shelves full of old journals, the pages crinkly with ink and secrets. They are time capsules of life as a five year old, a fifteen-year old, a twenty-something in all her angst. I rarely read them, but looking at them gives me comfort. There are words, if I need them someday to remember. (My mother has Alzheimer’s, and her mother had dementia. So the thought of someday losing my mind and memories is ever-present.)
The thing about going old school is that I can’t write fast enough to pin the thoughts to paper. I’ve been spoiled by the keyboard and can type fast enough to take dictation from my brain, so it’s my writing tool of choice.
I decided to create a public narrative because I was leaving friends and family far behind, and I wanted them to know what my life would become. I wanted to share what my dreams were made of, once I met them in the real world.
Substack was an attractive choice because it doesn’t require much of readers—they don’t have to remember to check your website for updates as they did with blogs of yore. Also, if I were to go silent for awhile, my readers would be less likely to give up, because when the words are once again ready, substack delivers them to everyone’s home inbox. (But you’re here; you know all that already.)
As a writer both by calling and trade, of course I wanted readers. I want all the readers! In my very first post, I wrote:
“I’ll admit that my immediate motivation for starting this newsletter is selfish. I want to write, and I want someone to read it, and I want that someone to be you.
But there is also a solid measure of hope in starting this newsletter, too. Hope that it will mean something to someone, that it will matter. Maybe even make a difference.”
All of that is still true. So maybe my ambitions were larger than I thought.
I didn’t know what to call this writing project, though. I also didn’t know what I wanted to write about—a whole buffet of things, I figured. So when I came to substack, I threw up a masthead with the first name that stuck: “Word Salad Newsletter.” I knew what it meant in the vernacular, but I felt a bit unintelligible and incoherent at the time.
I wanted to do what I’ve always done: write it out to make sense of it. I wanted to chronicle my family’s move from San Francisco to Portugal; the (painful) process of writing a book; the heartbreak of my mother’s mental decline; the never-ending journey of deconstructing from a toxic religion; perhaps a dash of public speaking with some parenting on the side; and dog stuff and bird stuff and life stuff, of course.
In the beginning, in that context, Word Salad fit. It was kind of funny. Tangential connection to Sarah Palin’s linguistic endeavors notwithstanding.
But the longer I’ve been writing in this space, the less Word Salad fits.
I’m not here for nonsensical entertainment. I’m not a dabbler, dashing down whatever flits into my head and out again. I am writing (scrawling, if you will) for the long haul—in Portugal, in parenting, in writing as a craft, and in life itself.
Over the last couple of years as my readership has expanded beyond those I know in the flesh, I’ve had some delightful interactions and made some genuine connections with people whose stories and trajectories might be different than mine, but who resonate along the same ley lines.
So I’m still (always) writing for myself here at The Long Scrawl, but I’m also writing for those resonant readers. For you.
I don’t know where this will end up, but I know how to get there: word by word.
Thank you for coming along.
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Copyright © 2022 LaDonna Witmer