Criticism vs Opinion

A few weeks ago I mentioned something from my writing class. When I presented work, I was given competing critiques by two of my fellow writers: one classmate said my characters sounded too old, while another said my characters sounded too young.
So: was this an example of criticism/critique or an example of opinion?
What’s the difference? Lucky for you I have been overthinking this topic for weeks, and I have come up with the following self definitions.
Criticism/critique can be substantiated by a specific thing. You can tell someone an actual reason why something isn’t working. For example, one of my classmates recently wrote a story in which the narrator called another character a “dick”. My critique was that I had a problem with that specific word choice to describe the character because up to that point (and the rest of the story) there was no specific example to make this word be an apt description. Further, the action the character did show clearly did not qualify him as being a “dick” in any way, shape or form.  Critique is when you can pinpoint a place where the story starts to lose momentum, or jump the shark.  It’s also something that the majority of readers will have an issue with.  I’m not saying to write to the masses- you need to forge your own path and be happy with what you put on a page- I’m just saying that if 4 out of 5 readers think the ending is crap, you really have to consider if the ending is indeed, crap.  Also, to be clear, I realize that critique can be a form of opinion, but it’s valid to really consider these points when rewriting.

Now opinion.  An opinion is something that may very well be unique to the specific reader.  An opinion is influenced by what a reader brings into the reading, what their background knowledge is.  In the case of my story, the reader that said the characters seemed too young was 25 years older than me, while the reader that said the characters seemed too old was 25 years younger than me.  They clearly had an age bias that was neither good nor bad, but may not have been valid.  At 25 one might not have any idea that a 58 year old may not have the energy to party all night, while an 80 year old may think that 58 year old characters talking about their sex lives seems juvenile.  Is either reader right?  Doesn’t matter.  If the characters consistently behave in the same manner and their words and actions are in a linear path, they’re probably written correctly for the story.  (this is not to say I have written a perfect story- just that my characters have a pattern that is logical throughout- I hope).

I realize that I am splitting hairs, because opinion can be criticism, and criticism can be opinion.  But when judging other people’s work, we must be careful to think about the why – why something makes us feel negative or positive.  When someone bestows upon you the honor of reading their work, you must go into it with a clear and open mind.  It’s like taking a standardized test:  read and respond to what is written in the text presented to you, and answer questions and form opinions solely on that.  Your life experience doesn’t matter:  what matters is the way the work was written.  Does what the author say make sense? The minute you think “Well, in my experience…” you are no longer giving criticism: you are giving opinion.  Your expectation is that the situation in the story will play out the same way the situation in your life did.

So I will ask you my friends:  what is criticism and what is opinion?  When reading something do you automatically bring in background knowledge?

I really want your criticism/opinion.


February Writing Update

Ok- Where do I start?

Writing Class.  Like my teacher.  I think he is really good at giving us helpful nuggets and examples of how to incorporate into our writing.  I think he is making me a better writer.  His critiques are well thought out and reasonable.  I think this was a great choice.  He has explored how to use techniques to get the story moving, and to use details that enhance the characters. setting and plot instead of distracting from them.  He has also helped me look for errant adverbs and adjectives which can make the writing clunky.  I’m writing tighter sentences now that are more impactful.

I presented my work this week.  I’m forming many ideas in my head as to what is critique versus what is opinion.  When I presented the prologue and revised first chapter of my book, I was told my characters sounded too old.  Another classmate told me my characters sounded too young. The critic who complained too old is in her twenties.  The critic complaining too young is in his eighties.  My characters are in their fifties, like me. You tell me?  Valid criticism or opinion?

I also got a criticism that I introduce the conflict too late in the book.  For the record, the conflict gets introduced about 15 pages in, in the beginning of the second chapter.  Pacing wise, I think this is the right time to introduce the “story”.  How much do you want thrown into the first chapter?  Should a little of the scene be set before the plot line starts to focus in?

But that being said, I still struggle with chapters/sections that rely too heavily on scene setting and what is known in my head as &^%$# description.  This frustration is especially apparent in the first section where I am describing the setting.  Though I have revised chapters one and three, they are still the bane of my existence. It took my three days to rewrite chapter three and I still hate it.  I feel that the final version of my novel will contain the plot, but i can’t imagine the exact wording to make it in. The words, sentiments and ideas don’t flow organically.  I am trying to describe the neighborhood in which these women live, yet it comes across as a generic laundry list. It’s boring and inane.  I am happiest when I am writing dialogue heavy chapters, because that’s how I like to get my story across.  I find conversations between people very telling, and it’s where I do my best work.  The extremely necessary conversation in this part is being overshadowed by trees and cars and neighbors.  I have to figure out how to describe the scene without describing it. Ughhhhhh.

I know my goal this month was to find an agent.  Guess what I didn’t do?  I have been researching writing query letters, so I’m getting some ideas.  I found one agent who I think would be a good fit, so I will work on that this coming month.  I’m actually struggling with finding an agent that would be a good fit for what I write.  I’m working on it.

So there you go.  I’m almost halfway through with second draft.  I’m liking the majority of my work.  I’m still meeting with my writing group which is awesome.  I made some great women writer friends.  My class ends at the end of the month, and I think I’m taking Novel Writing Three next semester, a class which focuses on revising your draft.  There is so much to learn about writing.

On a side not_ I am very behind on my blog related activities.  My sister and niece were in from Seattle, so the majority of Friday, Saturday and Sunday were consumed by them. (ahhh…family……there will be posts about this in the future)  Will be catching up this week!!


Do You Believe?

I’ve been pondering this idea for awhile, and my blog friends Jay and Brizzlelass both touched on it recently:  Believability of characters.

Do characters in fiction need to be believable?

I struggle with this concept for a variety of reasons.  First off, what is believable?  In the purposes of fiction writing, how do we define believable?  Is it when a character acts like the majority of people would in any given situation?  And if that is the answer, then what about the people who are in the minority of a situation?  Is their story not worth being told because they are not the “norm”?  But more to the point, isn’t the story of the person in the minority the one worth telling?  Isn’t the story of the character who is outside the box the one that is more interesting?  To write something where everyone behaves “normally” is not really a story.

Now that I’m in my second writing class, I have noticed that many people fictionalize real events from personal experience.  I think this is cathartic and interesting.  What’s wrong with retelling personal experience?  Nothing, except the fact that a bunch of readers will say “This would never happen in real life”.  And the person who wrote the story is saying “Yes it could happen cause it did.  Character X actually said that.  Character Y actually did that.” Is truth not believable?  Are we uncomfortable reading about how people actually treat one another? Does the reality of humans really make us want to become an ostrich?

Here’s my take.  I am fine with something not being believable if it makes sense with how the character has been described.  I will base my decision based on how the particular character has been portrayed.  A main character often shows a change throughout the course of a work- I think of it more as, did the way this character changed from beginning to end make sense.  Based on what the author has provided us, does it seem plausible.  See, that’s where I think the difference it:  has an author written the bones of a character where what the character says and does make sense.  To me it’s not a particular conversation or event: it’s the character from page one to page 250.  Does the arc of a character and the characters development make sense.  Do interactions between characters make sense based on what is given to us, not based on any preconceived notions we bring into the book.

I know you’re now having a hard time believing what I wrote because it makes no sense…

To completely screw up your minds, let’s think about the popularity of dystopian books.  Are people drawn to writing this genre simply because they think they can write totally bizarre things and no one will question it, because, after all, it’s DYSTOPIAN.  It this just a way to get around people saying “That character would never say that”?  Is it a way to get around people saying “That’s not believable?”

And what about the people who say something is predictable. If you make your characters “believable” to the norm, wouldn’t the situations play out “predictably”? Would there all of a sudden be a twist? Believable leads to predictable.

So my literate friends:  what do you think?

To believe or not to believe.  That is the question.

And does it matter?

Can You Describe That?

In my writing class last semester, I wrote a scene.  My two main characters were in a car.  I wrote “He put the radio on.  80’s rock.”  I received feedback when I presented the scene in class- six people asked me specifically what song was playing on the radio.

Last week, my classmate wrote a scene.  The scene specifically named a Duran Duran song.  She got criticism that naming the song was too specific, that the reader needed to google the song to understand why it was important.

Two people critiqued, and given contradictory information.  What does a writer do?

I spoke last week about my difficulty with organically writing description into my story.  I’m still confused and working in description limbo, but I am starting to come up with my own sort of description bible.  Remember:  I am not a published author.  I don’t know anything.  This are some of my thoughts as I work out my novel.

Description should add to a scene, not detract from it.  In the scene I wrote in the car, I’m sticking with the generic 80’s rock works in the scene because it’s a general setting.  These are people who grew up in the 80’s and this type of music is comforting.  They are also the kind of people who listened to rock music as opposed to jazz.  Generic works.

In my friends story, the scene was a little more specific: the song had special meaning to the two characters in the scene, which is why she named it and had a line of lyrics.  I think in that case, specific was necessary.

If you are using a detail, make sure it is helping the reader set the scene.

If you are moving a platter across the table, ask yourself if giving description to the platter adds or detracts.  If the platter is antique, and shows a particular part of a character, than talk about it.  If the rest of the scene is what’s important, how many words should go into talking about this platter?  Don’t add words that don’t add to the overall story.  If it doesn’t matter, it will bore the majority of readers.

Which brings me to my next point:  everyone has an opinion.  Two people will critique something and come up with contradictory opinions.  As a writer, go with what your instinct is telling you.  You know what you are trying to do.  And I don’t mean blindly listen to the person who agrees with you, I mean really think about what you are trying to get across with your words, and if the words make sense to your vision.

Don’t laundry list.  Seriously.  “She went to the black, modern, metal cabinet and took out a thick hot pink mug that she bought on sale at Macy’s last year.”  Do you need all the adjectives?  Maybe.  Are there other ways to convey the same information that are more lyrical and less in your face?  definitely.

Some people are just more descriptive than others.  Some people write long, languorous, fully loaded sentences and it works beautifully with what they are trying to accomplish.  That’s great- for that writer.  It might not be good for another writer.  Know your strength and work with it.  Accept your weakness and try to  get around it.

I struggled on Monday when I tried to rewrite an early chapter in my book.  It’s the first time the reader is seeing the neighborhood in which my character lives.  I know I need to give it texture and physicality.  I was struggling adding the details organically.  I was getting caught up in describing the place, and forgetting that this scene was important.  the purpose of the scene was to show conflict between the main character and her three friends- she is doing something they don’t understand, but I was writing paragraphs about what the neighborhood looked like, and it was a waste of energy because it wasn’t moving the scene forward.  It was detracting from the importance of the scene.

In writing class last night, my teacher said something that made a lot of sense.  (Who knew- teachers say important things)  He said sometimes three of four words can be more impactful than a paragraph, that it’s just a matter of choosing the right three or four words.

Then, when I came home from writing class, my daughter was finishing up an AP Language and composition assignment.  She began to tell me about the part she was about to do. The question asked how the syntax of a particular sentence made the sentence stronger and more meaningful.  (they were asking about a David Forster Wallace essay)  And I realized that the way I structure a sentence is actually really important.  (who knew- sometimes your teen can teach you something)

So when I rewrite the horrible scene, I am going to remember these two things.  I’m going to pay attention to how I describe the setting without getting bogged down by it.  I need to remember that the setting is texture, but it’s not the story.

I will figure out how to write description.

Or I will throw the laptop out of the window.



January Writing Update

I started another writing class this month, Fiction 2 with Gotham Writers Workshop.  This experience is different than the one I had last semester.  Last semester my teacher was a woman, older than me and a novelist/screenwriter.  This session, my teacher is male, younger than me (I believe he’s 12) and a short story writer.  The biggest difference is not the gender or the age:  it is the writing discipline.  Writing a short story versus a novel is the same, yet different.

Many of my classmates favor very ambiguous stories.  They’re OK with limited, or no plot.  They’re OK with vague descriptions.  They’re OK with no dialogue.  These are things the novel people never want to read/see.  The biggest criticism I get when presenting my novel is the lack of description- I am dialogue heavy, and personally, I don’t care if the kitchen is all black and modern, or yellow and countryesque.  But, readers of novels do.  Readers of short stories don’t.

Should I become a short story writer?

No.  I want to write a longer work.

So we have the first conundrum I face when working on my novel: how do I add description to my work?

Seriously. how do I add description to my work?

My problem appears to be in my first chapter.  OK- I have problems in other chapters as well, but lets begin with the section I’m currently playing with.  I need to introduce my setting, which is a kitchen, and my protagonist and her three best friends.  (on a completely different note- I did learn in this current class that the protagonist and main character do not have to be the same- who knew???)  This is a lot of information in the beginning of the book, and I am having difficulty maintaining my light, fun voice with the task of similes, metaphors, adverbs and adjectives.  I like description to appear in little bits and pieces.  People reading my book do not.  They want a laundry list of how the room looks.  How do I reconcile what the reader wants with how I want to present the story?

Is this the first basic problem with writing?  Writing what you want versus writing what people want to read?  Is this just a variation of chicken/egg?

So, I’ve added a prologue.  I am introducing my protagonist separately.  I’m laying out one of the “problems” before I even get to anything else.  I’m establishing the tone and voice.   I think I’m liking this better, but it is my first rewrite, so….

Which leads me to the following:  my first draft is finished.


Sort of.

To explain, I have the first half of the novel fleshed out.  The second half is just major arcs.  I have to fill in the filler.  Here’s the thing I realized- I want the filler to actually count, so I need to flesh out the filler better in the first half, so that it is more meaningful in the second half.  What, you say.  I didn’t understand this last sentence, how am I going to understand her novel?  I wish I could explain my thought process a little better, but really, how much do you want to get into my brain?

But, I am pleased with the main points of the novel.  I like my two characters- they are funny and smart and damaged, just like we all are.  I only hope that these things are coming across on the page.  I am enjoying the process though.  I look forward to writing.  That is huge for me, the fact that I look forward to writing.   I even think about plot points and dialogue when I am doing other things- my little pink notebook is never far from my side.

In other writing news.  I blogged at least 5 times a week this month.  Yay.  Had so much amazing feedback from comments and generated lots of new blog ideas.  Thank you all for that- you keep me on my toes and keep me thinking.  You are all an inspiration.  My hope is that every now and then I inspire you.

I formed a writing group with two of the women from my first fiction class.  This is the best thing I did.  We meet every three weeks and really do a line by line critique of each others work.  Even if I don’t like their suggestions, it’s making me look at my novel in a different way.  I’m thinking of the overall theme more, because I see how individual word choice effects the general feel of a work.

My next task is to try to find an agent.  Yeah.  Good times.  I don’t know how to even start this process, but my February goal is to start researching the “how”.  You’ll get the report next month.

So there you have it: a summary of my writing for January.  Tune in next month for the latest tale of my writing highs and lows.

Happy writing!!!





200 Posts!!

Ok- I don’t know how it happened, but here you are- my 200th post!!

I almost feel bad writing today, and claiming this as 200, because I had 3 days of non-posts where either me or my computer had a virus….but the wordpress Gods said that yesterday was officially 199, so here are some random thoughts on my blogsperience.

  1. I hate creating a title.  Seriously.  I think it takes me longer to write the headline than it takes to write the blog.  I’m not that clever, and I can rarely sum up what I’m writing about.  Perhaps because I am sometimes lost in thought.  Like, I can’t even remember how this paragraph started.
  2. I am horrible at grammar and spelling.  I had this conversation with Jay the other day- I don’t notice these types of errors/ mistakes unless they are glaring.  I’m more focused on content.  I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing.  Probably bad, because I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I will need to hire a copy editor before I send out my novel
  3. I can’t believe I find things to write about 1 day a week, much less 5.  My life is boring.  Yet, I manage to pump out 500-1000 words.  Go figure.
  4. I can’t write/blog when my family is home.  They are distracting.  Well, my Husband is.  I will be at a critical spot, where I have come to some sort of blog epiphany, and then he’ll start talking.  About nonsensical things.  Which is cute- but not when I’m trying to solve the problems of the world.  So, my not solving the problems of the world falls squarely on his shoulders.
  5. I have a lot of opinions.  No really.  I do.
  6. I look forward to blogging every day.  I hated when I was sick and my mind was cold addled.  Blogging has become cathartic.
  7. I have made so many wonderful friends blogging.  I look forward to reading and commenting with so many of you!!  I get excited when I see that you’ve posted, and I look forward to reading of your adventures, and misadventures.  I cry with you all, and laugh with you all.  I am humbled by your strength and perseverance.  I am awed by your wit.  I am emboldened by your honesty.  Thank you!! You all give me hope!
  8. I love comments!!  I love when people feel moved enough to tell me what they think!  And I love when people don’t agree with me, because I value the other side of any argument
  9. I don’t really talk about “likes” or “follows”.  That’s not the reason I blog.  I blog because I love it.  Plain and simple.  But I would be remiss if I did not mention that I have exceeded 1000 followers.  I know?  Right?  How the hell did that happen?  So to all of you who have decided to learn about me and laugh at me (or with me) THANK YOU!!  Seriously- I am humbled to feel that maybe I’ve made any sort of impact in someone’s life.  It is an honor to know all of you!

And there you have it!

Onward and upward!


Write Month Check up

As you may know, I’ve been participating in Novel Writing Month.  Just thought I would do a follow-up.

  1. I am writing every day, but not always my mark of 1650 words.  Some days more, some less.  One day I rewrote the entire scene I had previously written because I came up with a much better way to set the stage for what I was trying to accomplish.  Technically that day was a wash.
  2. The hardest thing so far has been remembering to update my word count every day on the website.  I need to do that today- as soon as I blog.  Hoping I remember my password. (to give you a hint as to when I last updated and it’s only November 8)
  3. I am liking the way my main character is developing- she is funny and a bit of a bitch.  Sort of like me, except we know I am not funny
  4. I’ve come up with the major arcs and plot points.  I think they are solid- the most solid of anything I have ever had in a novel.  I truly believe this is due to my writing class.  My class is allowing me to think of a story in ways I never imagined.   In class we break down dialogue, plot, description.  Especially point of view.  I had been writing in 3rd person.  When I switched to 1st it brought the book to life for me.   When you think about these things as devices, it’s a whole new world- which brings me to:
  5. Being a writer and being a story teller are two different things.  I may have a flair for words- I can usually get my point across in a piece.  But telling a story- oh- that’s an art.  How do get from point A to point B- that’s the difference between a writer and an author- so
  6. I need to learn how to bridge the gaps – fill in the timeline of the major events.  But these moments can’t always be filler.  These little moments can help you shape your characters and your story.  I need to learn to use the fillers wisely.  I think I’m getting it.  I hope so anyway.
  7. An outline is great, but sometimes you have to throw it out the window.  I had a way that I wanted my story to go, but as I’m writing, I’m discovering new possibilities.  I’m going with my instinct.  I don’t always go with my instinct, so this is a bit of a trial for me, but so far so good!!!
  8. Here’s one I need help with if you can.  One of my beliefs in life. as well as in this novel is that the longer the people are friends, the less boundaries they have.  I truly believe it and I see it in my life.  When I presented the first chapter to my class, one person adamantly disagreed with me- she felt boundaries got tighter.  This is not a right or wrong- I am using the boundary disappearing in the book, but for my own clarification- long friendships- more or less boundaries?
  9. I can’t write with my family around, or awake.  They are a distraction.  I guess that the problem with being the perfect spouse and Mom- I’m always in demand
  10. I now walk around thinking of scenes that can be included in the book.  It’s a good thing I’m organized because I can’t multi task at all.  I see everything through the eyes of my characters.  just be happy I’m not writing about a serial killer
  11. I am very loose with grammar and punctuation (which I know is opposite my need for order and perfection) I think that when people get overly fixated on grammar and punctuation, they begin to loose the playfulness that writing can be.  Personally, I’d rather read a not grammatically correct interesting clever book, than a punctuation perfect but illogical or unsatisfying one.  Personally, I think I read too quickly to catch mistakes of commas and periods.  My brain assumes they are right.  Bad plot points or characterizations that are inconsistent- well those I pounce on in a heartbeat.  My brain will not overcome that.  That’s where my need for order and logic prevail.
  12. I need a desk chair.  A good one.  My body may never recover.  My daughter asked me the other day what I wanted for a holiday gift.  A desk chair.  I know my family doesn’t read my blog, but I believe I will leave this part on the bulletin board.  oh wait.  My family never looks at that either…..

So there you go!!  Hoping all your writing is going well!!

The Write Month

Ok- I admit it.  I can never remember the name for the writing challenge this month.  I have a good memory for some things, a lousy memory for others. But the point is:

Who’s working on their novel this month?

You all know I want to finish my novel.  You should also know, that after taking a writing class, I scrapped my initial intent to write the novel in 3rd person and switched to 1st person.  This requires a lot more than changing a few words.  This requires changing everything.

The upside:  I am so much happier with the way my character is developing.  I’ve brought a relatability and an intimacy that the character was lacking, and I felt I needed.  In third person, my character seemed cold and sterile.  In first, she is almost charming.  I know!!  I’m writing a charming character!  I didn’t think it could be done, but it just might!!  I’m also doing that talk to the screen type of technique.  I sort of have the narrator talk to the reader of the book, so they’re in on the secret.  Spoiler alert:  my book contains a secret.

I’m still having issues with giving details.  I realize that details are essential to a novel- they paint the mind picture for the reader.  I just don’t know how much to dole out at a time.  I don’t know when I’m being top heavy with adjectives, so I tend to minimalize.  Yes, I know- bad idea.  I know what’s in my mind- readers don’t.  Now- there are often times I think that no one in their right mind should be in my head, but that’s a whole other story.

I’m liking my character.  She has many of my good traits- think tea and organization.  But her bad habits are WAY different than mine.  She is much funnier than I am.  It’s amazing to me that I, the least funny person in real life, can write characters that are funny.

But anyway…..

Oh- my teacher suggested that I don’t use …… or -.  Now, if you’ve read me for awhile, you know that I can’t write without these devices.  So, the hardest part of my novel writing experience may be not using ….. or -.  Seriously- I tried writing yesterday and these things just magically appear on the page.  I will need to attend ellipses anonymous.

But the good news.  I scratched out 1700 words yesterday (on my novel, excluding my blog ).  yay me.

Alas- writing month should really be in February, when I am hunkered down hibernating.  November in New York is glorious, and I plan a lot of outings.  Think of it as a squirrel storing nuts for the winter- I store memories to get me through the arctic NYC winters where I need to walk everywhere, every day.  I need memories of ballets and concerts to motivate me out the door.

So today will be a Good Luck to all of you writing 50,000 words this month.  It’s a big task, but I know each and every one of you is up to the challenge.  I look forward to reading every novel once it’s published!!!  And there are a few of you I will be requesting signed copies from.  Jay- that’s a hint…….

What to expect from me?  Probably a daily word count.  I’m sure I will tell you when I’m at a crossroads.  I will not be blogging on the weekends.  I have a great deal of trouble writing Saturday and Sunday when my family is around (they really are annoying) and I will be spending my alone time working on my 1700 or so words.

Here goes nothing!!!


The Writing Class

As you may know, I began a writing class a few weeks ago. This has so far been an interesting experience.  Here’s a few random thoughts.

  1. I am totally rewriting the “novel” I started- as soon as I began the class, I realized that I had issues with the way the novel was set up.
  2. When we learned about plot last week, we learned that the main character needs to want something, and that is what makes up the crux of the book.  Well- here’s the thing- I know my general plot.  I know my characters.  But I have no idea what she wants, because I keep rethinking the ending- I have two distinct endings in mind, and now I’m stymied as so how to write the book if I don’t know how it’s going to end.
  3. Apparently Stephan King (I don’t know if you’ve heard of him, but he writes books)  has no idea where his books are going when he begins writing- so I could be Stephan King like.
  4. Apparently, Truman Capote (who, you say?  Just think Audrey Hepburn) knew exactly what he was going to write.  Should I be Capotesque?
  5. I can not refer to my “novel” without putting ironic quotes around novel- need to work on either self esteem or sense of irony
  6. I feel confident about my writing until I hear what other people wrote.  I know I’m not alone in this, because every one of my classmates prefaces their reading with some sort of disclaimer as to how bad their piece is in comparison to everyone else’s.  Comparing is a bad habit.  Unless it’s me comparing to other works because mine truly are worse.
  7. I do not always like writing exercises, especially when they do not include dialogue.  For some reason, I like to have my characters talk.  Could this be because I am somewhat loquacious?  Hmmmmmm…….have to think about why my characters talk so much and there is so little internal monologue.
  8. My characters all end up funny.  I don’t know how this happens because I am not that funny in real life.
  9. My function over form attitude to just about everything could be a detriment.  I am finding that I don’t really describe a scene- I throw in little details about the setting, but I need to work on creating a visual picture.  I forget that just because I see the details in my mind, no one else does.  And those details help to create your character.  I may practice by writing posts in which I go into excruciating detail about the 5 rooms that make up my apartment.  then I will describe the contents of every drawer and cabinet.  If you are lucky, I will tell you what’s on the shelves and surfaces…..
  10. Writing is easy.  Writing something that someone wants to read is hard.  I have to determine what is more important- pleasing myself with my writing, or finding an audience.  While I realize they are not mutually exclusive, I just don’t know if I can do both.
  11. Writing creates a lot of self doubt.
  12. Deep inside, I know that writing requires one to sit at a computer (or typewriter if you’re retro and live near a flea market) and type words, and sentences and paragraphs and chapters.  This is very solitary.  I have never been a social person, but I find the more that I write, the greater my need to interact with others.  I can’t write is I’m alone with my thoughts too much.  I need to air out those thoughts.  Just think about that King guy and The Shining……(FYI- one and only SK book I ever read because it scared the pants off me….I could not read it at night……)

I have 7 more classes, and next week is the week that my 10 page piece gets ripped apart  discussed.  I’m sure I’ll be taking about this again.


Two Truths, No Lie

When you blog, people get to see one side of you, the side you present to them.  You may open up, share both painful and positive stories, but people make assumptions.  They intuit things about your personality- let’s just say we’re all a bit like Columbo.  And some of these things are dead on accurate- every word someone writes, every picture clearly show the definition of who you are.  But, sometimes, it’s harder to see the truth in someone’s personality- sometimes the person sends opposite messages.

For example.  I am a very shy person.  I know I’m opinionated, and never fail to make my opinion known.  I know I will argue until I have not a point left to utter.  I know I have a certain level of self-confidence.  But I am still shy.

So what does shy mean to me?  I don’t like parties.  I am not the type of person who will introduce themselves to everyone.  When at a party, I’m the one in the corner, making snide comments with the one person I know.  I’m not dancing on the tables (though I have a college friend, SF, who might argue this point, but he never comments, so I’m safe…..)  As much as I talk, and yes- I have a big and loud mouth- I am really more of an observer.  I watch the way people interact- I see the body language of a couple clearly headed for a break-up, or the hunched shoulders of a woman who clearly has way too much on her mind. I eavesdrop on conversations -sorry- you shouldn’t talk about how you don’t remember which brother you had sex with (last night) because you thought they were both cute when you are on a subway or talk about the way you are going to lie to your wife (that night) while you are walking down the street- I will judge you.

I also have trouble commenting on other peoples blogs.  Seriously.  I didn’t comment on anyone the first month I blogged.  I was terrified that people would dismiss my opinion, not care what I had to say.  This is where the bad part of shyness comes in, the fear of doing something because you are scared to interact.

I needed to overcome this.  Every time I comment on a blog it is hard for me.  I still don’t know if I have anything to add to the table.  I worry that my contribution will be paltry compared to what others say.  I know it doesn’t seem like that- but it’s true.  One truth.

Second truth.  When I was in 7th grade, my English teacher told me, and my mother, that I was not a good writer.  This crushed me, because 7th grade me wanted to be a writer.  It was my dream.  Now my Mother, not always the most sensitive person, blamed me- because I should be a good writer, because I clearly had the aptitude (damn IQ test).  She hired a tutor, and on Monday nights I sat with this tutor.  My tutor didn’t understand why she was spending Monday nights with me, because she said there was absolutely nothing wrong with my writing.  I had the basics of grammar and punctuation.  I understood how to open and close a composition.  I knew how to back up my points.  She told my Mother that there must be a personality issue between the teacher and me.

My Mother did not like the version that the tutor presented.  My Mother decided I wasn’t working hard enough.  And we once again enter the world of parental expectations……

But it wasn’t only my Mother that crushed me this time- it was also a teacher.  And even though every other teacher I ever had in school was actually pretty wonderful, this one teacher crushed my spirit.  It was then I decided that I would not be a writer.

So the truth is- I don’t think I’m a good writer.  This is not a humble brag.  I am shocked and amazed whenever someone tells me that I am a good writer, or that they like my posts.  Truly.

You have no idea how hard it is for me to push the publish button.  I second guess every word, every sentence, every paragraph, every post.  Yesterday was the first time I ever post-edited a piece (except for glaring spelling errors, and forgetting to put a title)  I try not to edit after I publish because I will always find something wrong with my words- I will always think of a better way to say something, or a point that I missed.  There is a chance that I would only have one post on this blog because I would be constantly reworking it.  I don’t think my words on the page are good.  But I keep trying.

No lie.