Posts Tagged ‘blogging’

Six Semi-Related Thoughts on Reading, Writing, Thinking, Wisdom vs. Information and Other Random Topics

From street kitten to literary felineSometimes when you’re blocked as a blogger, the key is to simply blog. Maybe not publish, but just write and see what happens. Sometimes I’m convinced blocks happen because you want to write about subjects you perhaps don’t often write about in a particular space. But something — self-judgment, overwhelm, lack of confidence, low energy, life — gets in the way. And when you don’t obey your inner prime directive, well, nothing comes out — everything gets blocked.

(It reminds me of a useful metaphor I once read somewhere self-help-ish, about how both positive and negative emotions come out of the same “faucet,” and trying to repress the icky stuff and not deal with it also blocks the good stuff as well. Maybe there’s a writing/creative corollary as well?)

So anyway: one of these things I’d like to write more about is writing itself, but the idea of shaping a mass of thoughts into a cohesive long-form piece of writing kind of sucks the energy out of me right now. Let’s just lower the bar a little and present a “related list,” no? This is just a “state of the union” kind of things I have been mulling over about writing, publishing and creativity in general.

+ Sometimes I really miss writing more critically/whatever-y/essaylike about stuff like music, movies, books and all that. Sometimes I do that a little, here, but it doesn’t feel quite right for this space and I’m tired to trying to figure out a way to make everything fit. Sometimes I think of starting a new Web “thing” — because I LOVE to start new things, it’s a cardinal sign astrology thing, maybe — but then I think, “Does the Internet really need another opinionated person clogging up bandwidth with whatever?”

+ This of course is tied to my general Internet/online/social media exhaustion to begin with. I feel bad, but I don’t read blogs as much as I used to. I don’t really check into Facebook. (Sorry to people whose birthdays I missed on there, I’m terrible at FB!) I feel like all I get from the Internet is information, bits and pieces that just drift through my life and easily drift out of it, like an early winter snowstorm, replaced by the latest meme or byte — and it doesn’t feel like real knowledge or wisdom anymore. I don’t have a real, sustained engagement or relationship with it. I think about that a lot, sometimes — what kind of intellect is possible if you do all your thinking, writing and researching via the Internet?

+ I do think a lot about how something starts as information, becomes knowledge and perhaps transitions into genuine wisdom and discernment: a kind of life cycle of intelligence, perhaps, and I do think about how the medium and audience and “market” (ugh at that word) affects that process. And when you write a blog or website, what role you/it plays in that process. Which is to say, sometimes I wonder if writing a blog in general is a futile thing if I genuinely want to contribute in some way to something quality in this realm.

+ I also think about making a zine again. Like a real zine. I made one as a special giftie for peeps who bought my , and it was fun to make something that I knew would literally exist in material reality. I do so much writing for the Internet, both professionally and personally, that it is a fascinating exercise to write something that you know will only exist outside the electronic ether. And perhaps I am nostalgic for the time when I wrote a “perzine” and felt that wide-open expanse of possibility within that format — you could write on anything, in whatever format, and while the audience wasn’t as wide, they were more engaged perhaps. Or maybe that’s just me flattering myself, I don’t know, or I’m projecting my own type of engagement upon different media. (On a basic level, I tend to remember books and ideas better when I read them on paper.) Anyway: sometimes I think it would be fun to do a zine again, to create a physical object full of writing. I sort of miss photocopying, too, collating, stapling, mailing…

+ I have been writing a lot of short stories recently, but fall means novel-writing, so I’m gearing up for that soon. I stumbled upon the first act of a novel I started a few years ago, read it and realized, “Wow, this idea is fascinating and, above all, kind of that sustainable tension between fun and challenging.” Reading it was like reading something someone else wrote — I’d forgotten I’d written it, in a strange way. Which is in some way the most delicious sensation you can have as a writer, when words you wrote are somehow outside of yourself and you’re like, “Dang, who write this? Me?!” Of course, you can have that feeling in both a good and bad way, and often both at the same time.

+ I really do think people underestimate and misunderstand the role of “fun” and play when it comes to writing, especially long-term projects. This was an insight I came to late during my MFA program, and I really wish I had learned it much earlier on — I would’ve saved myself a lot of time, money and heartache, perhaps. I could write and make very serious, weighty, dramatic stories in a short format — a short film, a short screenplay, a short story. I could experiment with dense, intellectual ideas, both in form and subject, in short formats. But when it came to longer work, I found writing that intensely sad, fragmented post-colonial family saga, for instance, to be a horribly awful experience, both for me to write and perhaps for others to read. The material colored my existence, made me sad and pessimistic and writing became a chore in a way it normally is not for me.

Sometimes I believe that how you feel about the process of writing is just as important as how you feel about what you write about — and how you feel as you write it, perhaps. (I’m convinced that feelings about self, life, whatever seep into writing in this effable way, which sometimes makes it hard for me to finish work these days by lauded, “good” writers I’m convinced are total douchebag assholes, simply because the ineffable asshole vibes somehow waft off the page.) Anyway, I wish someone had told me early in my MFA program, “Sure, experiment with that crazy intense story for a few shorts, but when you buckle down to making real sustained work, write something you enjoy on some level.” But of course, I think this is different for everyone. There are some people who create as a kind of catharsis, a therapy, an outlet for pain and trauma and simple suffering of mere human existence, and they need to write crazy, intense stuff to get something out and God bless them for that. I think those writers are so compelling and dazzling in their honesty and courage. I guess I don’t write from that space, though: my demons are small fry, really. I write because it’s fun for me, because I like being transported, and I like the potential companionship that a good story provides. But it’s nice to know the space you’re coming from.

+ Anyway, writing about writing gets tiresome after while, so I’m going to wrap this up and get home and make some soup and tea. Because sometimes there is nothing better than soup and tea after a nice intense writing session, after all.

L.A. is Beautiful, and Transitional Thinking

I just got back from a trip to L.A., which was beautiful and sunny and strange and surrealist-magical. I stayed with a friend in West Hollywood in a place with a grapefruit tree just outside the window, and when I wasn’t working, I was wandering. I chose not to rent a car and basically just walked everywhere.

And I walked and walked and walked and walked. I walked to LACMA, where I caught the Calder exhibition up there now. I walked to the Grove, and then to the nearby farmers’ market, where I met up with Liz over beer, chips and guacamole. Lovely Liz! I walked to coffee shops, down gritty streets, past the beautifully strange jumble of architectural styles that only L.A. domestic architecture offers. (A Moroccan castle next to a English country home, next to a Spanish-style bungalow and a mini Tudor mansion!)

I felt undergroomed, but that didn’t stop us from going to fun restaurants (Djelina, Mess Hall, Katsuya) and nifty drinking establishments (Tasting Kitchen, The Griffin). Oh, and I went to Pasadena and hiked near Griffith Observatory. And I went bowling at the Spare Room at the Roosevelt. Vintage style bowling in my socks, and I got a 116, which is about my average game these days. I also bought fancy Mast Brothers chocolate, a sweater coat because I was unexpectedly cold, a perfume rollerball of Balenciaga Florabotanica because that’s what I do when I travel, and my niece’s Christmas present.

I love seeing new places and hanging out with old friends. There’s something about traveling that opens up channels of thinking and feeling that get clogged up by the detritus of everyday life. I’ve been thinking lately about writing, and livelihood, and the proper allocation of energy, time and purpose. Recently — it’s been odd — my parents and sisters are like, “When are you going to get a real job?” and basically think I should just, like, apply to a company and work in computers or something.

Now, this is a question that I didn’t use to get from them when I was footloose and fancy-free in my bohemian 20s, but they probably thought I was going through a “phase” and should just get it out of my system. But I kind of blame Obamacare, which generally I think is a fine (though currently poorly-executed) idea. I buy my own healthcare as a freelancer, so of course I am like, “Ugh, should I bother applying? It seems like such a pain.” And so they go, “Get a real job! Get real health insurance!” Which is kind of, well, a trigger for a woman in my 30s as myself.

I have been working as a freelancer since my early 20s. I have always bought my own health insurance and essentially run my own business for years. Their telling me to “get a real job” — though I recognize it comes from a place of love and caring — feels like a slap in the face, like I’m not an “legit” adult or whatever. The world is a hard place for right-brained, creative, artistic people!

Of course, on some level, I am okay with this, because it is part and parcel for living an unconventional life and mindset. People only want the best for you and kind of want to cross you off the worry list, I guess, but most can’t see an alternative beyond the reality they know. It’s entirely understandable. But it kind of bugged me more than usual.

I had to dig a little deeper to realize why, and then it hit me: I write and edit for a living. In a weird way, I fulfilled my dreams for myself: I have always wanted to be able to say I am a writer and editor. I knew I wanted to be a writer of some sorts when I was a kid; I spent hours at a toy typewriter, pretending to “write.” I created my own “books” and read them out loud to my dolls. Me writing for my job is as natural as a plant growing towards the light. I could do other things, but I could never love other things in the way that I do with writing, and that love and passion makes all the difference — and makes putting up with related bullshit so much easier.

Of course, the realization of that dream isn’t perfect or a fantasy — it’s a struggle, and sometimes I feel burnt out and bored, and sometimes I worry, and sometimes I feel restless like people in “regular” jobs. But deep down, how lucky am I to be doing something that I’m good at, that I love? I know circumstances and situations around that work can be better, but ultimately, I am lucky. And it pains me slightly to know that people who I feel should know me better don’t see that and feel happy for me.

But then again, in some ways, they do see my burnout and my malaise, and that’s what they’re picking up on when they tell me to do something else. And I know I need to shake things up a little. I’ve been thinking about starting a new blog, or re-doing this one in a way that feels more inspiring to me. I’ve been thinking over where I really want to put my fight and my might in writing. I’ve been thinking about blogging in general, and what I get out of it, and what an audience gets out of it, and whether it’s worth it sometimes.

I’ve been thinking about vehicles to spread worthy ideas in the most effective way, and how to share my journeys in ways that feel nourishing, happy and effective for both myself and the reader. It used to be satisfying just to write for the pleasure of writing, but that feeling gets satisfied writing novels — it has to be, otherwise novel-writing would be such a frustrating activity! But writing for writing’s sake in a blog? I don’t know anymore. I feel it has to do something more than add to the reams of content out there. There is such an established set of rules, practices, guidelines, norms that are so different from where I began when I started blogging. It’s something I struggle with: what you have to do to “make a living” and “grow your audience” as a blogger, and the creative and emotional reasons why I began blogging in the first place. Those reasons, I think, are changing, and I need a little time and space to clarify them and then put them into practice.

However, I am not going “on hiatus.” I’m just going a bit slower.

I do have a few ideas and projects, and I’m taking the rest of the year to spackle and construct and bust things up and lay the groundwork for them. So this place will get a little quiet for the rest of the year, methinks. But I’ll still be here. Thinking. Feeling. Living, loving, and recording just a bit of my human experience, and hoping it resonates in some way with some tiny sparkling star-souls out there who somehow find their way into this orbit.

On Life Vs. Blogging

I’ve been thinking lately about tempo, about the rhythm and pace of things and how some things don’t sync up. Bodies vs. minds, heart vs. head, that kind of thing. And lately, as a runner, I’ve been working on getting my speed up, and it’s going really well — I seriously feel great about running the fastest I’ve ever run in my life, especially as I slide down the dark side of my thirties. So the idea of speed and pace is a literal concern of mine a few times a week as a running nerd.

But I’m thinking of pace and rhythm in relation to more abstract things, like the rhythm of blogging and the pace of life. Like how in blogging you feel compelled to do it regularly and consistently if you want to have some modicum of “success” at it — and yet, as a personal blogger, tiny revelations and insights about life don’t happen regularly and consistently at all, or at least at a scale to warrant being documented in writing.

It was easy to write a lot and all the time when I was writing NOGOODFORME — for one thing, that blog covered areas that change all the time. There will never be a shortage of music, style, food, and all that to write about. It’s easier to be regular and consistent as a blogger when you have a thing and a schtick — even if you’re writing about deeply personal issues like grief, there is a compass there, a focus that guides you when you sit down at the screen to write.

Here, though, it’s a bit more diary-like, a bit more personal and yet diffuse. I decided to write here more often because I wanted the challenge of writing more intimately, from a more heartful place — something that feels more honest, kind and, yes, sincere. The problem is that I don’t have personal revelations every day, or even every week — I wish I were that wise, but I’m not. I don’t have a fabulously decorated apartment; I’m not much of a consumer anymore, either in clothes or music or anything that people love to read about. I sort of just live my life and keep my game tight and love like crazy. I re-read and re-listen to things again and again; I try to engage things at a slower, deeper and (what feels like to me) richer pace. I like that a lot; it feels good.

But it doesn’t make for great copy, I have to admit. I worry about being mundane. I worry about being boring. So I don’t know. I want to tell you that I started writing a new novel this month and it’s going really lovely; I sit at my kitchen table early in the mornings as the sun streams through the window and I visit a world set in Old Chicago, and I get to rhapsodize about perfume, about glamour, about dresses by the Callot Soeurs. It’s fun to write a historical novel, using a part of my brain I often don’t get to share. (Fans of 19th century/Gilded Age history, please raise your hand!) I’m very, very into writing as if I am trying to be Edith Wharton or Henry James, though, since they’re masters, I will settle for ending up like Theodore Dreiser. There’s a pretty yellow finch that sits in the tree outside my window. I perfected my egg strata recipe. My summer fashion concept is making me super happy these days. I like how summer in general slows everything down beautifully, and finally thoughts and impulses have time to catch up with me, ready to be shaped and sculpted into more concrete things.

It all exists at once, these pieces of life. When I write here, I sometimes feel like I’m placing them in an order and harmony that I think I know, but the full song has yet to reveal itself fully.

Turning a Blog into a Book: An Intro to My Project, and What I’m Learning So Far

High irony alert! Here I am, discussing my blog-to-book project, the story behind why the hell I did this in the first place and musing on the differences between books and blogs and how that affected the editing process…and I’m doing it in a video blog! (I’ve been writing a ton lately, and thought talking at a camera awkwardly would be a nice change of pace…kind of.) Anyway, if you want to hear what my book is called (lots of funny faces alert), how I decided to embark upon it (pay attention to your crazy whims!), and what I’ve learned so far, click below!

I just wanted to share about my book (whose title I reveal in the video..woo hoo!), tell you a bit about how it came about, and document my thought process and the things I’m learning about editing blogs into bigger projects, publishing, and so much more…it’s been quite fun and interesting, and I’m learning lots and lots. I was especially intrigued by the differences between the two media and how that informed the process, and talk a little about blogs being an evolving, dynamic document (I don’t say it that articulately in the video, but there you go) and books being “for the ages,” and how these two factors made the editing process much more complex than I thought it would be when I started this project as a lark.

If you’re looking for a rough breakdown so you can skip around:

  • Intro to my book and the story behind it: the idea, making the decision to turn my blog into a book (1:10)
  • Discussing the differences between books, blogs & how that affected the editing process (5:29)

I hope you enjoy it! If you’re intrigued by this idea of blogging-as-bookmaking or even self-publishing in general, please comment and let me know your questions…maybe I’ll v-blog on them in the future

Anyway, stay tuned for more All Things Glorious and True news…it’s getting its own mini-site, and I might have a cover to show soon. I’m excited to put it into the world, either end of this month or in May, depending in part of the gods of Amazon!