Writing Woes

As I’ve mentioned before, I not only spend copious amounts of time reading, but also scratching out my own scribblings. I tend to write long-hand in a journal I carry with me.  However, I have recently been having some writing woes, but not the usual writer’s block and such. I have been struggling with what people say and do when they see me writing.

I have been given the impression that they think my scribblings are silly, and what could I possibly be writing that is so important that I fill up so many pages.  I’m currently on my fourth journal. There are many people who I have kept this hobby hidden from due to fear of judgement.

Now I know that I really shouldn’t give a flying flip what other people think, but a writer’s ego is fragile.  And sometimes things said really sting, such as one morning a co-worker saw me writing before work at my desk and mockingly said, “Dear diary…” like I was an angsty teenaged girl.  I was instantly embarrassed of my writing and felt foolish for it. It made me feel that my hobby of writing and blogging were inferior to other hobbies.

It’s difficult to not let comments like this burrow their way into your mind and under your skin and make you really question what you’re up to. It makes you wonder, is it really worth it for those of us who are not professionals?  Answer: Of course, it is!

However, it is a bit ironic.  A professional writer, such as a journalist or a novelist, is held in quite high esteem, but it feels like if you haven’t reached that level then you’re inadequate. Yet how does one reach those levels without toiling away with a pen and a piece of paper or a keyboard and a monitor before their day job? And what if you just like doing it with no aspiration to be paid?

Writing is difficult.  It is a process.  I don’t like criticism, but I’ll take it and do something with it if it will improve my work.  However, criticism for the act itself seems unnecessary and rather unproductive. I haven’t come upon any solid advice other than to ignore people and their comments and their eye rolling.

I am, however, very lucky to have many supportive people in my life regarding my writing. They are pretty amazing, so I’m going to focus on those awesome peeps, jam to “Shake It Off” and keep doing what I love.

Happy Friday, everyone! Keep on keeping on!

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The Other Side of Reading

I have recently been reading Elizabeth Berg’s book on writing called Escaping into the Open. It’s fairly obvious that I not only like reading but fancy writing a bit as well.  I’ve known for a while that there aren’t necessarily strict, firm rules to writing in order to be successful.  However, I don’t believe it truly sunk in until reading this. People say what works for them, but that doesn’t mean it’s applicable to everyone.

Thus, a big part of writing is simply figuring out what the heck works for you.  This is comforting and yet terrifying. It’s nice to know that my bumbling around is not only normal but encouraged; however, I really would like to stop bumbling.  But it sounds like that’s just the way of things.

Berg gives the impression that being relaxed about writing will make everything easier.  I think this is true. I’m just not quite sure how to Zen out my brain about this.  Writing tends to make me get this… tightness.  I want to put a masterpiece on the page. This includes my blog posts. I realize I have to get past this, and Berg makes it seem like one day I will.  I just can’t force it.

She reiterates many things I already knew, but it’s nice and necessary to hear them again.  Such as:

  • Write, write, write, just keep writing, no matter what. I have seen transformations in my own writing as time goes on.  Even though there are many times I feel like I’m spinning my wheels.
  • Read everything. This I try to do on a regular basis. (This blog helps.)  Ideas strike in all kinds of weird places.  So just keep that nose in any reading material you can find. As a personal addendum to this I’ve discovered listening to a wide variety of podcast can also get the ideas flowing.
  • There is freedom in writing and don’t let other writers’ hang ups or beliefs limit what you do or how you do it. There are a lot of myths about writing some could be true for some people but they don’t necessarily affect or apply to everyone.
  • Work hard, but be kind to yourself. Natural talent always helps, but drive and passion can make almost any writer succeed.  Furthermore, I know that I’m not a super-star writer, I like to think I have the drive to become one.  And that this hard work does not include mean or self-deprecating thoughts/comments.  A firm gentleness will suffice.  Positivity will go a lot further than negativity.

Berg provides quite a bit of solid advice for a green writer like myself.  She’s realistic but encouraging and right now that’s what my sensitive writing ego needs.

There is a lot of writing advice out there for bloggers and well for all forms of writing.  What is some advice you’ve received?  Any advice that was particularly unique?

Oh, Just Read It- The Little Paris Bookshop

Vitals-

Title: The Little Paris Bookshop; Author- Nina George; Type- Fiction

The Gist- A profoundly emotional story of losing love and the process of moving forward.  And how books can be the cure for many emotional ailments.

What Stuck- George is able to concisely and eloquently state some of life’s most emotionally baffling conundrums. I’m envious of this talent.

Should you give a flip?- YES!  This is a wonderful book.  It’s beautiful and elegant.  I get a warm, sunny feeling when thinking of this read.  I’ll shut up now.  Just go read it.

A Comma Conundrum

Oxford comma for the win!!

Before I get to what the hell that means, here’s a little background…

My mother was a high-school English teacher for 33-years, and as I’m sure you’ve witnessed my grammar is far from perfect, but it certainly isn’t for a lack of trying.

My mother would always politely remind me that I did well instead of good.  That “Holly has one…” as opposed to “Holly gots one…” And when correcting my papers there would always be a red flick for a final comma in a series of items, also known as the Oxford comma.

It wasn’t until I was in college that I learned its name, that it had a fair amount of debate centered on it, and that technically using it wasn’t written into the stone tablet of grammarian law at the time of the Ten Commandments.  Some believe that the Oxford comma should always be used.  It completes the series.  Some believe that is it unnecessary, and the conjunction is enough to indicate the final separation in the list. These individuals tend to believe that only in very specific circumstance should it be employed to clarify something that could be ambiguous without it.

My boss and I have secret Oxford comma wars.  He leaves it out.  I put it back in.  He crosses it out when correcting drafts and so on.  I don’t think he’s caught on yet that I’m doing it on purpose.

However, earlier this year The New York Times reported that the lack of this controversial Oxford comma has given truck drivers for a Maine based dairy company the grounds to file suit regarding overtime compensation.

Maine requires time and a half be paid after 40 hours worked with a few exceptions that are listed in the state’s statute.  This list, as common in much legal writing, lacks the Oxford comma leaving room for some serious interpretation.

Below is the link to the full article that clearly defines why Oxford may have outfoxed an employer.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/16/us/oxford-comma-lawsuit.html

Where do you stand: with Oxford or without?

Checking Reading Snobbery

I need to be knocked down a peg in my reading attitude.  I recently read The Templar Legacy by Steve Berry. It is an action/adventure type story centering on the myths surrounding the Templar knights and the Crusades.  I went into it thinking that it would be like every other action/adventure book I’ve read.  But I was low on reading material, and figured it would fill the void until I could get something “better” to read.

However, once I began, I found the story to be exciting and intriguing. It then struck me I had begun to look at books of this type as “low brow.”  I felt ashamed, and I scolded myself about this.  A good story is a good story and that’s all the matters.  Furthermore, who am I to dub things as low or high on the brow spectrum?

These books might not have flowery verbiage, and probably won’t ascend to the place of Sense and Sensibility or A Tale of Two Cities. However, they still took a tremendous amount of effort and research to produce, particularly books like Mr. Berry’s where he mixes a sizable helping of history into his plot. They may be somewhat formulaic, but they keep me reading and that’s the whole point of a good book.

These books are a bit like the Die Hard movies.  Everyone knows they won’t be winning Oscars or other notable film accolades, but the general population will love them because they are action packed with a splash of comedy.  They are pure entertainment and that’s simply wonderful.

I don’t want to read these exclusively like I once did when I was in high school, but these books should not be looked down upon.  And I sometimes need to remind my occasionally snobby arse that reading anything and everything has merit and adds perspective to a reading repertoire.  Things are gained in mysterious places, so keeping a broad range of reading is not only rewarding, but important.

I’m going to delight in these reads to the nth degree because all books deserve a chance, and I’m glad all types of books exist.  It keeps life interesting, and that’s what I’m looking for.  So, here’s to entertaining action novels.

Yippee ki-ay mother fucker.

Caught

I am partial to things that unexpectedly cause me to laugh out loud particularly written things. They are meant to pack a punch just by reading them.  They don’t need to be acted out or said in a particular tone.  They are simply funny straight out of their ink. When I watch a comic or put on a sit-com I’m expecting that I will laugh throughout the performance.  They have a lot to work with to make people laugh.  And while most of the time I do enjoy the show.  It isn’t quite as sweet as that unexpected moment of glee that I experience when I’m just plodding along, and I see a sign or quote that strikes my good ole funny bone.

One of these moments happened when I was walking down the street in my old neighborhood. There was a novelty shop.  They sold t-shirts and quirky cards.  And on this day displayed in the window was a mannequin wearing an all-black t-shirt, but in the left “corner” where a breast pocket would be, there was tiny white writing.  I couldn’t read it so I leaned in really close and squinted a bit, and I finally made out the words:

“Nosy little fucker aren’t you!”

I gave a little start.  I even think I shrunk back a hair as if I was caught snooping in something I shouldn’t have.  And then I just burst into laughter, right there on the street, until I was in tears.  I had never expected to read that of all things.  I honestly chuckle every time I think of it.  This I feel is quality ink laughter.