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.

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100 Posts! How did that Happen?

Today is Post 100!  I can’t believe that I have written 100 posts!  In honor of this momentous occasion, I am giving you a list.  These are a jumble of my thoughts about this blogging process.

  1. I thought I would be writing about the process of aging.  I realized that I’m not afraid of getting older- and I’m actually not that bothered by it.  I just don’t like the fact that it takes me 20 minutes to stand up.
  2. My writing has gotten better since my early posts- at least I hope so- please tell me I’m a better writer now
  3. I can be funny, clever, thought provoking, sad, angry and reflective- often in the same post.  I hope my writing elicits some sort of emotion.  And laughing at me is perfectly fine…I live with a teenager- I’m used to it
  4. I’m making good strides on my novel.  This is thanks to a fellow blogger.  I was telling him the problems I was having telling my story, and he said “Dumbass” (Ok- he didn’t say that- but I know he was thinking it) you’re an organized person.  Write and org chart for what each chapter of the novel should cover.  Then write the scenes.”
  5. I heard my daughter say to my husband- “We have to dial down the stupid.  Everything we do could be a blog”  So remember, when I tell you a story about them- they have dialed down the stupid……take that for what it’s worth
  6. I have met some amazing people through the blogging process.  It amazes me that I have found kindred spirits from all over the world, and from 20 blocks away.  I am a better person for crossing paths with all of you.  Ok- I was pretty low on the humanity scale before, so don’t be too proud……
  7. Most stories are still person vs person, person vs nature and person vs themselves.  But we all manage to tell our stories in different and unique ways.  Except for all the new books I’ve read that retell Jane Austen books.  It’s time to give those a rest.
  8. I love and look forward to writing every day.  No joke, no sarcasm.  This is a highlight of my day.
  9. What is not a highlight of my day is my present relationship with WordPress.  WP keeps telling me its my fault.  I think we share the blame….but I’m easy going like that.
  10. I love reading all your blogs!  Each and every one of you inspire me every day, with your courage, strength, wit, humor, creativity….I could go on.  Your spirit and attitude is contagious. All your posts make me think, and expand my mind.  This is what keeps us young.  This is what keeps us living.
  11. I know I play fast and loose with punctuation and grammar.  I don’t care.  I’m so structured in every thing else I do.  This is my space to safely push the boundaries.

I could probably go on, but need to leave something for the 200 postaversary.

Thanks for reading me!  I truly appreciate it, and all the wonderful comments and feedback!

The Write Place

I think I figured out what my problem is.

Stop right there.  Don’t ask- “which problem?  Don’t’ exclaim- “wow- she finally gets it”.  Just listen (read) for a second before you make any snide comments Jay readers….

The specific problem to which I refer is:

My inability to “edit” my “novel” properly.

I spent the last year working on a “novel”.  I love my idea, love my characters.  Love them so much, that I’ve made the conflict in the novel ridiculously light, because I don’t want to see them hurt or have pain.

Yeah.  I know.  Tough problem to face.  War, homelessness, inability to have characters feel bad.  It’s my cross to bare.

But I finally figured out why I can’t fix my “novel”.

I don’t have a “Writer’s Shack”.

When I was at the beach, I would pass a little house every day.  To the side of this house was a littler house- and the plaque outside of it simply said “Writer’s Shack”.

As you may know- my three person, two pet family lives in a luxurious 800 square foot apartment.  We barely have room to breath.  I have a tiny desk, which is where I tend to work on my “novel”, yet I blog at my dining room table.  Which venue is more successful is yet to be seen.

So I began to think about if a writer needs a dedicated space in which to work.  Would having four walls, a desk, a chair and a window that were only used for writing be answer that I was looking for?

I quickly realized that I would be unable to build a shack off the side of my apartment.  So I started to think about other options.

  1. Renting office space.  Sure- because with college looming on the horizon we have the extra money to do that.
  2. Taking a space in a building that has studios for artists and writers.  While these are slightly more affordable, I once had a friend who used one of these.  Though she found it incredibly helpful, I thought it was dark and dreary.
  3. Writing in my favorite coffee shop.  There are myriad thoughts about doing this.  During the school year my daughter does her homework at her desk in her room.  Since returning from vacation, she has been spending about 7 hours a day at one of the 97 Starbucks that are located within 3 blocks of my house, working on summer homework and PSAT prep.  She feels that working in her room highlights the fact that it is summer, and that her mind keeps wanting to do other things- like literally anything other than AP work, such as laying on her bed and staring at the ceiling.  In order for her to actually accomplish anything- she needs to be in another setting.  This is a plus for writing in a coffee shop.  The other thing about writing in a coffee shop is being surrounded by “writers”.  I was once shushed by someone in a coffee shop because she was “working” while I was just “having coffee”.  (Yes- I tend to be a bit loud and animated- but I really thought it was OK to talk and have a beverage in a coffee shop- my bad….)  When I walk by a coffee shop- all I see are laptops- and people banging away at laptop keys- Apparently, “Starbucks”=”Writer’s Shack”

So- should I set up shop at my favorite coffee hole?  Should the hours I dedicate to working on my novel be done in a setting of not so comfortable chairs and harsh lighting?  Will they let my bring in my own chair and desk light?  Will working outside my home be productive?

To be continued……………..

Blog Type: Decoded

After spending a few months writing, and reading, blogs, I have ascertained that there are 6 general types of  writing based blogs: (though I do realize that sometimes a blog can be more than one type)

  1. Opinion– I appreciate and respect all opinions, whether I agree with them or not.  My only caveat is that the opinion be logical, well thought out, and based on valid reasoning.  I do not like opinions such as “I hate opera” when the person speaking has never actually seen or heard an opera.  A person with this type of opinion is stupid, based on the fact that, you know, they’re stupid and the reason is stupid.
  2. Personal– These are my personal favorites.  These blogs share a piece of someone’s life.  I think the writers of these are brave for sharing their stories and struggles.  I also appreciate the honesty and humor of these posts.  I like when the writers personality shines through.  Thanks  Mojo for the inspiration on wording, also one of best personal blogs I have read. http://momentumofjoy.wordpress.com/
  3. Reviews– You know- someone tells you their impressions of a book, movie, whatever.  Reviews are a tricky thing for me- I prefer recommendations.  When I read a book review, I look for genre, one line plot summary, and a rating.  I don’t like spoilers.  However, after I have read a book I love to go back and look at the reviews. Same with all other things that are reviewed, except food, because I will go to a specific restaurant for a specific dish.
  4. Instructional-How to’s- recipes, DIY, tips on organizing (this is my favorite type of instructional- I could get lost in a sea of organizing blogs)- Basically anything that gives you a roadmap on how to do something.
  5. Fiction- Flash, short story, poetry- anything that tells a story in a fictional way.
  6. Fact Based- These are blogs that explain things based on research.  There is evidence to support the claims in these blogs.  And they are factual.  Or at least they are supposed to be…..

Now here is where I begin to rant….be forewarned…….

I grew up on Long Island,  in a SUBURB of New York City.  For the better part of 30 years, I have resided in Manhattan, a BOUROUGH of New York City, mailing address, New York, NY.  Of these facts I am certain.

I read a blog the other day about New York City.  The writer stated that Manhattan was a suburb of New York City.  This made me irrationally angry.  If you are going to write a factual piece about a place, get the details straight.  I commented, telling the writer that things written were factually incorrect, (and for the record I did not say- hey- check the definition of suburb and explain to me how Manhattan, with a population of about a gazillion people can be a suburb, and then what would the urban area be) and gave the correct information.  Of course, the writer neither approved my comment, nor corrected the post.

So here’s my opinion: if you are writing a fact based piece, it is your responsibility as a writer to make sure your facts are correct.  When you have an error, and this error is pointed out to you, it is your responsibility to correct it.  By not doing these things, everything you write, that is fact based, comes into question.  How can a reader trust you?  Where is the integrity?

Let the commenting commence: