Tag Archives: writing

reverb10: not-writing

Okay, I signed up for #reverb10. It’s the now annual event, the continuation of #best09 from last year. A prompt a day, all month long, to contemplate 2010 and reveal 2011. In the way of my world, the evening after I signed up, I discovered a new Twitter book club and I joined in for that, too. So this will be a busy month.

December 2: Writing. What do you do each day that doesn’t contribute to your writing and can you eliminate it? (Author: Leo Babauta)

In one sense, most things I do don’t contribute to my writing, not directly, because I’m not a writer. My background, my work, even my passion, isn’t for writing, at least not text (designing and coding software is my vocation, but that’s not what this post is about). Still, here we are, in a blog post, and this blog is, well, writing! So there you are: turns out I’m a writer.

This poor blog is neglected. I always intend to write more often but I never get around to it. There are things I need to do in my day that can’t be eliminated and things I want do in my life that won’t be eliminated. But I’m not so busy that I don’t have time to write a post for months on end. So what’s holding me back?

Well, there’s inspiration, as in the lack thereof. I can’t think of things to write. I know, the answer is just write, about anything or nothing or everything. But most times when I sit down to post, nothing comes to mind, not the nothing you can write about, but the nothing of a void…no words at all. I have to start collecting ideas, writing short posts about little things, finding “assignments” for myself.

Another problem is my sense of my writing. I read other people’s work and truly feel it’s not just better but so much better than mine. I need to stop thinking about that. After all, a little practice might help. And it’s one reason this blog is here.

“My fingers,″ said Elizabeth, “do not move over this instrument in the masterly manner which I see so many women’s do. They have not the same force or rapidity, and do not produce the same expression. But then I have always supposed it to be my own fault—because I would not take the trouble of practising…”

—Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

book club fun

I’m participating in the 1 Book, 1 Twitter (1B1T) global book club which has been going for about a month now. Lots of folks are reading the same book and discussing it on Twitter. I follow the author Neil Gaiman there and found out about this event when he mentioned that his book American Gods was doing well in the voting. Then it won the vote. I’d just finished reading the book only a month and a half before 1B1T started, but I decided to read it all over again and join in. I’ve never been in a book club before, so I wasn’t sure how this would go.

I dreaded English class in high school. Finding deep meanings and themes in books and interpreting symbolism was way beyond my interest in reading and I wasn’t all that good at it.  I could manage some when forced to, but it doesn’t come naturally when I read. Also, I was very timid about speaking up in class and participation mattered.  And to add to my discomfort, for some unknown reason I was in an AP tract class where all the other students were talented writers and whizzes at literature To this day, I think it’s because I scored 100 on a multiple choice test about Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar in 9th grade, given after all the class discussions and asking for no new insights…so they threw me into the AP class, like that proved I could handle it. I’m not a creative writer, either.  Everyone else in class, and I mean everyone else…it wasn’t a large class and we all knew what the others turned in…wrote lovely, innovative papers.  I wrote straightforward, dull, and wordy things that read like a report for some government project or a manual for some complicated gadget.

I don’t dig deeply into movies or books even now.  I don’t usually notice the themes unless someone else points them out. Maybe I’m lazy? I like complicated plots and complex connections between characters and I can remember, or recall quickly when reminded, detailed storylines from movies, TV, and books, sometimes going back decades. It can be a useful skill if you want to keep up with long running TV shows or comic book continuity. But it doesn’t mean I dig into the meat of a story. I accept the storyline for what it says on the surface, I guess. Deeper significance just doesn’t occur to me.

Okay, that said, 1B1T is a blast.  It’s given me a much greater appreciation of this book.  The discussions have pointed out a lot of themes and symbolism I glossed over, ideas that I would have missed. It’s also been a great resource with people sharing links and information about places and names used in the book that I hadn’t looked up when I read it before. I’ve met some good people through 1B1T, too. It’s been a fun time.

And along with that, 1B1T has helped me feel better about my own reading skills.  Although I didn’t notice some themes as I read the book, once they’d been mentioned, I’ve run with some comments and contributed to the discussion. I never did that back in English class.  I was too scared to speak up and doubted any thoughts I had.
And a few times, people pointed out and discussed points I did recognize while reading!  I never thought anything about it while reading.  I mean, if I catch something, it must be obvious, right? But now I’ve seen that maybe I’ve been underestimating myself a little.  Not completely: there are plenty of points I missed.  But still, seeing any evidence of this is a revelation.

So now I’m raring to go: bring on the next book.

snow, good and bad

snow is a wonder, creating a calm and peaceful vista.

    snow comes to soften
    the landscape’s harsh look and
    still the din outside.

but sometimes, i’d rather it pass us by…

    i dread this snowstorm,
    too soon for me. not ready
    to clear the paths.

disclaimer: never said i’m a writer.

best of 2009: best of 2009

I’m trying something new for me this month, a web community challenge: Gwen Bell’s The Best of 2009 Blog Challenge. Find the best the year has offered me, and review, remember, contemplate, reflect, and celebrate it. There’s a question/topic each day.

December 7 – Blog find of the year. That gem of a blog you can’t believe you didn’t know about until this year.

I modified this prompt a bit to be about just one blog post, the one that started all this:

Gwen’s post is truly a gem for me, because it’s pushing me to write. I put up a post a couple of weeks ago about wanting to write more and not coming up with posts I was happy with. Along with a review of the year to find the good that was there, entering this challenge has helped me write, just write. I have topics to get me started and as I push myself to write these entries, I’m learning that each one doesn’t have to be the perfect post to have merit. I’m not saying I want to be lazy in my writing, and I’m not being that. I work on these notes for hours just to put up a few paragraphs. But I used to start writing and then junk it, or just not start at all. Now, at least I’ve put up a few entries and will keep going all month. I won’t post every day: I skipped the previous two days because I had nothing to fit the topics. But I will continue this challenge. And I’m writing publicly, too. I’m shy, and before this challenge, I never announced my posts to anyone but a couple of friends. I hadn’t even told my family about the blog, except mentioning one post to one brother. Now I tell the world (well, the world on Twitter) about these entries. That might be the norm for everyone else, but it’s a big step for me.

Something else is happening here, too; the challenge is working for me in another way. By thinking in terms of finding the good things from the past year, I find I’m relaxing and getting a little cheerier about life in general and more optimistic about the coming days.

Thanks, Gwen!

slogging through blogging

I’ve been trying to think of something interesting to write about for over a week. I even started one post and deleted it. I want to post here more than I have been, for a lot of reasons. But being an exhibitionist is not one of the reasons and I don’t want to write just for the sake of seeing my post up in lights.

I’ve been following some interesting groups on Twitter lately, including a set of lovely people who use their blogs to share and support each other in artistic and creative work. I’m not really a member of the community, a friend is, but I find it interesting, challenging, comforting, and somewhat disheartening all at once. That last adjective is because they’re all way more talented than I am. They’re also a lot more creative….they seem to overflow with ideas, for art, for writing, for posting. I enjoy reading through it, but it’s been a little intimidating. It’s made me feel like anything I start to write and write about doesn’t measure up.

Anyway, I’m just writing this to get myself going again. I thought of the title this morning and liked it. So I decided to write about not writing. Kind of ironic, because I find those essays about how hard it was to write the essay or tweets about thinking of a tweet, etc. silly, and here I am doing a whole blog post like that. Maybe I will make a tag called silly-post just for this. But at least I wrote something and hopefully will follow with more soon.