How I Write

After decades of trying my hand at various types of writing, I’ve come to the realization that I am not a poet, or a short-story writer, or a novelist. I admire lengthy investigative journalism pieces, like the one from GQ that I cited last week in my blog post about football [“Am I Ready for Some Football?”, 9/2/15], but that is yet another type of writing that I lack the skill and diligence to produce. At my core, I’m a lazy person, I’m afraid. I can only do work – any serious, difficult work – in small doses. I do enjoy poking around on the Internet, following trails of interest, but I’m troubled by the susceptibility to viruses (based on past history) and I often can’t tell when I’ve gathered sufficient information to stop.

What I have been successful (or at least consistent) with, for all those decades, is writing journal entries, mini-essays, notes to myself. I seemingly have some talent for this – or at least I take great pleasure in it –probably because it requires a conversational tone, limited words and only as much research as I feel like doing.

I have only recently felt the need to share my thoughts publicly. I’m very much a behind-the-scenes person. The thought of having a spotlight shined on me in any way is mortifying. I think it’s because I get choked up too easily, and the throat tightens and the tears come and the words dry up. I have a very hard time “selling myself” – selling anything, really – if someone didn’t want it in the first place. One of the reasons I’ve had such a hard time moving on from my current employment situation is that I’m petrified by the prospect of introductory cover letters and interviews. One of my associate friends went through a double-digit series of interviews for his current position; I would have thrown in the towel after 2 or 3. So blogging is safer, by far.

My writing style is not fancy or pretentious; I write like “regular people”, but with a slightly larger vocabulary (which I freely admit to boosting using the dictionary and thesaurus!).  I’ve been disturbed by some of the novels that I’ve attempted to read lately. With one such novel (the title of which escapes me) by Will Self, I couldn’t even get past the first few pages because it was written in this kind of double-speak, and some phrases were randomly in capital letters and others in italics, and it was all in a strange old-timey British dialect. It made me feel like I wasn’t a sophisticated enough reader to be able to get beyond the affectation, like the author thought he was so clever that his books will only be accessible to other smarty-pants like him/her (but it’s mostly a “him” thing, I’ve found).  I’ve read articles where the authors criticize the “non-creative class” who presume to foist their “creations” upon the world via Vine or YouTube or Twitter, or the nonsensical genre of TV reality shows about people who do nothing but appear on a TV reality show. While part of me agrees with this disdain (how did the Kardashians become so ubiquitous? Why does anyone care?? That’s a whole other blog post), another part of me says, who are these elitist snobs, who feel they have to put down the great unwashed and call them no-talent delusional losers (which might even include me, as a mere “blogger”, presumably)?

When I was thinking about starting a blog, I considered calling it “The Blog of I” (actually, the first iteration was “The Book of I”, but I am miles away from bookville).  My reasoning was that nearly every sentence I wrote in my journals (and presumably would write in any blog or book of essays) began with the word “I”. Clearly this stems from a self-obsession which doesn’t necessarily derive from self-confidence. I am irredeemably trapped in my own head.

Spending so much time stewing in my own brain accounts for another facet of my personal writing style, which is that I have a tendency to jump right in, as if the reader has been in my head following along with my thoughts the whole time and now I’m just starting to say it out loud (or to send my words out into the universe, as the case may be). I believe this is referred to in drama as in media res, where the story or conversation starts in the middle of the action, as if the listener/reader has been party to the conversation in my head the whole time.

That tendency has manifested itself in my real life as well. On Day 1 of law school orientation, I saw a beautiful boy, and then I continued to see him as the school year progressed. He was in my section, so he was in most of my classes. There were lots of surreptitious glances but no actual contact beyond an occasional smile and nod. However, in my MIND, and in my journals, I had this whole fantasy friendship with him. I visualized how we would meet (multiple alternatives), and I had many imaginary conversations with him. I invented details about him just by virtue of watching his movements around campus and overhearing conversations (being an older law student, I was invisible to a lot of my fellows in that I did not factor into the overlay of flirtation and mate-hunting so prevalent among my twenty-something classmates, so I was able to almost become a fly on the wall sometimes).

Year two began, and he was again in a few of my classes.  One day, for some reason but seemingly without any premeditation on my part (apart from the entire fantasy friendship with him that I had created in my own mind), as we were walking out of the room after class one day, I spoke to him. I complimented him on his shirt, which was a pale purple. I said something like, “That’s one of my favorite colors, but it takes a confident man to wear pale purple.” As if we’d been friends and having conversations all along!!  But it was his reaction that was most surprising of all: Not only did he not cringe away in disgust – “Why is this creepy old lady talking to me?? Do I even KNOW her??” – he actually laughed and said, “Thanks . . . I think!”  And with that small conversation starter, with me stepping out of my black-and-white head and into colorful reality, almost like Dorothy emerging into Munchkinland, we became REAL LIFE friends. We spent the entire graduation ceremony together, thumb wrestling and making each other laugh, and had one glorious bar exam study session at my house in Long Beach. We still correspond occasionally now via Facebook, but I’m always reminded of that story when I think of how I like to just jump right into my writing sometimes – as if you’ve been a party to the conversation in my head all along.

I wanted to start a blog so that I could rant and/or rave about things that interest me, releasing my thoughts from the prison of my brain and offering them to the universe in a way that is familiar and comfortable to me, because I have been writing this way for as long as I can remember. I never want to shy away from naming names, whether it’s hockey players or celebrities or authors or artists or songwriters, although when it comes to naming names of real people in my life, I’m not always sure where to draw the line. I’ve made a sort of self-imposed rule where I won’t publish someone’s first and last names unless I know they’ve got a “public” presence, on Facebook or otherwise. But there are certainly people from my past who I would LOVE to read something I wrote in my blog about them.  If they somehow discovered me via the blog post, and saw what I wrote about them, I would hope that they would be flattered and proud and it would make them feel good. So I will occasionally give a shout-out to people from my past (and present), but most of the time I will keep things anonymous and readers will just have to wonder.

In any event, I would never want to hurt anyone’s feelings or cause them shame.  This blog is meant to be rife with positivity in the hope that it will occasionally inspire people to be nicer to one another. That’s the real purpose for me starting this blog – and maybe my purpose in life.

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