I’ve had an urge for quite a while to start an Instagram account that has photos of towns in Maine named after the world’s great cities. The idea of Athens, Rome, Vienna and more translated to tiny towns with dirt roads and white clapboard buildings pleased me.
So, recently, I created one.
This urge didn’t come from practice. I have an Instagram account, but don’t use it as much as I could (should). I could’ve used another social media platfrom, but my brain told me Instagram.
The photos aren’t great art. The account doesn’t have many followers. There’s no promotional or monetary aspect to having it. An acquantaince, after I “invited” him to follow it through Instagram asked me what the point was. The point is, there is no point. I just wanted to do it, so I did.
Creating the account, like many things with my writing (“Why do you reference ‘Laverne & Shirley in your book? That’s too obscure!” etc) has one purpose. I wanted to do it, felt compelled to, so I did. I knew doing it would make me feel good.
It reminds me of the “Simpsons” episode where Bart says “I do what I feel like.” It’s a simple statement of his life philosophy, stated in a matter-of-fact way that implies “Why would anyone even ask?”
When I sold my house in New Hampshire, the new owner said at the closing, “I don’t get what your theme was with the kitchen.”
“I did stuff that made me feel good,” I told her.
And that, no surprise, befuddled her. I felt a little bad for her — I figured she must be one of those people who asks “Is it OK to use this color?” before painting a room. I’m so glad to be part of the “any color is OK if you like it” population.
The Instragram account worldcitiesofMaine — you can access it by clicking here — isn’t great art. It won’t make me any money. It won’t do anything except allow me to scratch an itch I’ve had for years. As well as allow me to do something I love, which is drive around and see Maine and take photos of stuff with my phone.
What does this have to do with writing? More than you may think. People will fall all over themselves making sure you know you have to “kill your darlings.” For the unitiatated, that means to get rid of stuff you really like and that makes you feel good that you’ve put in a book just to indulge yourself. But here’s a pitch for the fact you need darlings in the first place before you can get rid of them. And some of them may end up working, giving your book the voice and character that just adhering to the “what colors are OK to paint the kitchen” world wouldn’t.
If you have an itch that needs scratching, writing-wise, do it. It frees your brain and allows your imagination to roam. It allows you to get in touch with the part of you that’s not governed by people who are confused by why you’d write that, think that, say that.
When it comes to following your heart and imagination, err on the side of heart and imagination and creativity, not on the side of the voices that don’t get your head. You can always rein it during the revision process if it doesn’t work.
And if it’s not writing we’re talking about, why rein it in? If something feeds your head and heart, that doesn’t bother anyone else (except maybe their idea of what someone “should” do as dictated by societal norms) don’t feel like you have to justify it. How it makes you feel is enough.