"I had discovered that writing--with whatever instrument--was a powerful aid to thinking, and thinking was what I now resolved to do. You can think without writing, of course, as most people do and have done throughout history, but if you can condense today's thought into a few symbols preserved on a surface of some kind--paper or silicon--you don't have to rethink it tomorrow."
For everyone who wondered but didn't ask: That middle-aged woman you saw sitting in the silver van in the grocery store parking lot with the windows up and the engine running for ten minutes belting out "(I Never Promised You A) Rose Garden" on repeat was totally me. When I heard over the weekend that Lynn Anderson had passed away last week at the age of 67, I rifled through all my mixed CD's until I found the one with her signature song on. Sure, it wasn't quite the same as hearing it on the scratchy vinyl of the K-tel Country Superstars* album on the stereo my sister and I got for Christmas in 1979, but it was pretty awesome all the same. The baffled looks on passersby? Added bonus. Rest in peace, Ms. Anderson. Masked Mom's One-Word Review: Nostalgic.
*Seriously? Check out that tracklist. Who even knew you could squeeze so much cheesy goodness into 12-inches of vinyl? I did, that's who. I have this album in a milk crate full of other cheesy goodness in my bedroom right now.
Today's unedited excerpt from my Spiral Notebook Journal features me lecturing myself about that thing I always lecture myself about most: writing. Or not writing, as the case may be.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Sunday, November 2, 2014
Considering how often I disappoint myself, it's amazing I am not entirely immune to my own disappointment in myself at this point. Though I suppose if I were really susceptible to my disappointment, I might endeavor to disappointment myself at least a little less often.
I meant to write today--a lot and much earlier in the day than 9:15 p.m., which it is now. I also meant to write yesterday and the day before and pretty much every day last week and for that matter every day since the last time I wrote. But I allowed myself to get distracted--and not even really all that distracted, honestly, because no matter what else I'm doing (in this case, DVR clearing and Q*bert playing and squeezing in a movie with Hubby, which I couldn't have cared less about--some X-men sequel or prequel or presequel or some damned thing), all I'm really thinking about his how I should be writing.
More disappointment still--now that I finally forced myself to pick up the pen, I'm spending what little time and energy I have to talk about how I should've been here sooner.
...I seem to have fallen off of it and the bloggy wagon has rumbled along without me, as it always does.
As always, I miss blogging more than it misses me and find myself sprinting to catch up.
I could blame my long absence on all sorts of things and, honestly, it really is the product of all sorts of things--busyness, exhaustion, lack of motivation, lack of inspiration.
The more important question, really, is on what can I blame my return? What is the point of blogging? Despite numerous long absences* and whole periods of spotty-at-best posting, I have not yet been able to give up on blogging entirely. Why?
Blogging is such a weird thing. It is talking to yourself and inviting others to listen in.It is shouting into a crowd and hoping to be heard. It is a community of isolated, solitary individuals, tapping away at keyboards together alone. It is writing practice and social networking. It is the study of human nature, your own and everyone else's.
It is, like most things, the sum of its parts and then some. And I have missed it.
*This latest absence is by far the longest. We were sneaking up on a year at an alarming pace.
As of August 5, when Daughter-Only drove away shortly before noon in search of fame, fortune and a college education in close proximity to her boyfriend, Hubby and I are officially Empty Nesters. We've been temporarily Empty Nesters before, when Daughter-Only moved to an apartment less than a mile away, but we suspected from the start that arrangement wouldn't last and even while it did last, Daughter-Only came and went unexpectedly at all hours so our nest never felt all that empty. This time, though, Daughter-Only, our youngest, has moved across the country and her brothers are all fairly settled in away from home lives as well so...Empty Nest. Hubby says to me the other day, "You know, I miss the kids. I really do. But...I'm really enjoying peeing with the bathroom door open. And...I can even walk from the shower to the bedroom without having to put a towel around myself!"
Hello, my bloggy friends, let's begin with a little survey: Where do you stand on weirdness? Do you think it's best to ignore it and hope it goes away? Or do you feel as though blurting out how weird something is somehow takes the edge off the weirdness, at least a little bit? It's always weird when I come back to the blog after being away for an extended period. My voice sounds kind of echoey and hollow here in this wide-open space and the only relief for it is to keep typing away until the space is a little less empty. I've spent the vast majority of the day reading piece after piece of flash nonfiction in an online magazine called Brevity. I discovered Brevity in one of those moments of literary serendipity--this blurb in a magazine led to that book which had another blurb which led to a different online magazine which had a link to Brevity and I fell deeply in love. Today's back issue binge was courtesy in part of a new-to-me laptop, which makes spending the day reading a screen ever-so-much more (way too much more, I think) comfortable than sitting at my desk in my office. The new-to-me-laptop is courtesy of a promotion at work and I have spent the day using it for personal things under the guise of acclimating myself to the new-to-me technology. (I've been strictly a desktop girl up to now--no tablets or e-readers or even a fancy phone to connect to the internet with.) The constant reminder of my day job has been comforting since the pieces on Brevity are mostly so well written that they are both awe-inspiring and extremely humbling. Please understand, it's been a very long time since I've harbored the illusion of making a living as a writer--probably since fourth grade when Mrs. Wentz had us do a what-do-you-want-to-be-when-you-grow-up project. Mrs. Wentz was nothing if not thorough and as part of the project, we had to write down what we expected to get paid for our work. Planning to be a novelist, I calculated that I should earn one-third the cover price of every book sold. I figured one-third for me, one-third for the publisher and one-third for the owners of the stores who sold the book. For reasons I didn't understand at the time, Mrs. Wentz was amused and delighted by my formula and made sure to share her delight and amusement with my mother at the next parent-teacher conference. Anyway, it's been a while since I've imagined quitting my day job and writing for a living as anything other than a far-fetched fantasy, which is good since the pieces on Brevity were, as I said, awe-inspiring and extremely humbling. The cumulative effect of that much good writing all in one sitting was to not only utterly destroy any microscopic lingering illusion of my making a living writing, but also to make me question the wisdom of continuing to write at all. If I cannot write like this--lyrically with subtlety and grace--what then is the point of writing at all? I try to imagine the amount of writing practice that would turn my writing into that sort of writing--and the answer I smash headlong into each time is no amount of practice or time will turn my voice into voices like those. This is not false modesty or a fishing expedition for reassuring comments. Instead, it is a clear-eyed evaluation of the skills I possess and the ones I don't. I realize, or I think I do, that my writing has certain strengths. It's just that those strengths are not subtlety or grace or...any of a million other intangible things that I have spent the day admiring in the work on Brevity. I can't ever come to the page with the same life experience, the same worldview, the same talent as those other writers. What I can do is sharpen my prose, choose stronger verbs, tighten my sentence structure, dig deeper and dare more in hopes of coming ever closer to making the words on the page resemble the images in my head. And so, finally, again, I discover anew something I've known all along: the point of writing practice is not to learn to write like other people, but to learn to write more like myself.
Who is that Masked Mom? She's an uneasy cross between Superman & June Cleaver, between The Lone Ranger & Jill Taylor.Her alter ego--Clark Kent meets Carol Brady?--is often overwhelmed, occasionally panicked, perpetually exhausted.I am that alter ego--mother of four children, ages 19 to 25, employed full-time, married twenty-six years, waiting less and less patiently for all the hard-earned wisdom to kick in so I can relax and coast a while....