Monthly Archives: August 2012

How Blogging is Teaching Me About Balance with Writing

Anaїs Nin once wrote, “My ideas usually come not at my desk writing, but in the midst of  living.” Ideas don’t wait to come until you’re sitting, ready to write, so I jot down a lot of notes to return to when there is time. If something in the news hits me I spit out my immediate reaction on the page then stop, and return to it later, after I’ve calmed down and can approach it a little more level-headed. When I was an editorial intern I remember reading a few essays that were insightful and necessary and relevant…and too angry to be effective. They reminded me that no matter how passionate I am about a subject, if I don’t step back, let it breathe, check my emotions and revise, my words will read as nothing more than an irritating rant.

This is what’s hard for me about blogging. The very nature of it demands letting go of infinite revision. Some bloggers don’t revise their posts at all and just sit down, write it, and up it goes. Others write short essays, revise them a little, and up they go. We each need to find our own balance, I suppose, which might depend on the purpose of each individual blog. I don’t want to spit out a rant as quickly as possible for the simple sake of posting, only to have a blog comprised of spontaneous emotional outbursts that weren’t given enough time or thought. But I also need to post frequently, regularly, and silence my inner perfectionist to do so. I’ve let too much time pass without posting while waiting for the muse to come and say “This is how it should be done.”

I have to “feel” it!

Recently I was watching Robert DeNiro, (because I watch him every chance possible) in an interview on Inside The Actor’s Studio. He talked about how he “was afraid to make a move,” when preparing for a scene and felt like he had to go through some whole complicated creative process to get into the character and scene, and would hesitate, thinking “I have to feel it, I’m gonna have to do this…”  A teacher told him simply, “At the end of the day you’ve got to get up and do it. And the sooner you get to knowing that you’ve got to get up and do it, the quicker you’ll do it.” Once he just jumped in he realized he hadn’t needed to pamper himself or go through this or that first: “You’d just arrive there, you’d be there, believe it or not.”

Okay. Simple enough. Just sit down and write. I’ve got a great idea and all the emotion in the world to fuel the writing, and can get myself to sit down and just write it. But I can’t always stop there, and do sometimes have to go full speed ahead, take a breather, then come back. What I’m finding though, is that something lights a fire under me so I sit down and spit out my rant. Then I back off to let out some emotion and let in (hopefully) some rationality…and then while I’m letting it brew, I discover someone else has written something very similar, or taken an idea similar to one I had and was sitting on, but they actually did something with it. Which, of course, elicits another annoying voice that says “Well, now you’ve done it. You’ve waited and someone else wrote it and now you can’t, lest it look like you are taking someone else’s ideas due to the lack of your own.” Great. Allow me a moment, if you will, to respond to that voice: Shut the hell up.

A few nights ago I called my friend L to get her opinion on a post I was writing. News of Representative Akin’s comments on “legitimate rape” was spreading across websites like a trojan horse, and though I often remain silent on the idiotic things politicians say, this was an immediate and ferocious blast of isolated thunder for me; my fingers could hardly keep up with my thoughts. It seems a couple people misunderstand the word “empathy,” so I wanted to demonstrate how they might come to better understand it, but was worried that it might be a little graphic for a blog post, so I read it to her to see what she thought. Then today I get online and see an article responding to the same thing, with a couple paragraphs written the same way I wrote mine. And all is lost. Surely I can’t write it like that now, when someone has already done it the same way.

I fired off one of those “I can’t believe this!” texts to my friend, who has encouraged me to finish and post it anyway. And I will. For one thing, there is a similarity, but so what? We argue two different points, both valid. If we all stopped writing essays and books and songs and films because someone had already tackled that subject before or written it that same way before, we’d be missing out on a lot of good work. Anaїs Nin also wrote that “It is the function of art to renew our perception.  What we are familiar with we cease to see.  The writer shakes up the familiar scene, and, as if by magic, we see a new meaning in it.” So someone wrote something the way I wanted to and they beat me to it. So what. I’m learning my writing needs distance and time – just not too much.

I’m going to put my that little insecurity to bed, finish the piece, and post it soon.

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The Liebster Award

I’m proud to report that a writer I admire has honored me with the Liebster Award.  I’m copying and pasting the details about Liebster here, as she did, and I don’t feel bad about borrowing that much from her. After all, she started it.

What is the Liebster Award?

The Liebster Blog Award is given to up and coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers. The Meaning: Liebster is German and means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing and welcome.

The Rules:

1. If you are tagged/nominated, you have to post 11 facts about yourself.

2. Then you answer the 11 questions the tagger has given you & make 11 questions for the people you are going to tag.

3. Tag 11 more Bloggers.

4. Tell the people you tagged that you did.

5. No tagging back.

6. The person you tag must have less than 200 followers.

Away we go…

11 facts about Mademoiselle Gardner.

1.   Listens mostly to original scores when I write, as well as “soundscapes” or “ambient”  music. For me it is one variety of mood music, and  Favorites are Marconi Union, Thomas Newton (American Beauty), Cliff Martinez (Traffic, Solaris)

2.  People often take me the wrong way, think I’m mad when I’m really just tired or hurting, or they don’t get my sorry attempts at humor or whatever, and it bothers me. A lot.

3.   I want to at some point start an awareness campaign about hereditary hemochromatosis.

 4.   I love doing research. I mean I really love it. Seriously. Like give me something to  research and I’ll be on it, pronto

5.  Playing detective turns me on, and this is a role I could go either way with: movies about  grifters, con artists, guys planning complicated heists draw me in just as much as those about CIA or other highly intelligent people. (See movie list below.) Planning. Detail.  Focus. Intelligence. Challenge. I freakin’ love it.  

 6.  Cheese? Avocado? Yes, indeed, there is a God.

 7.   There are periods of time when I don’t call or email friends like I should, and it has absolutely nothing to do with them. I don’t want to complain or sound down when chronic pain, fatigue, or depression has got the better of me, but don’t want to lie about it.  So I often try to wait it out and call when it’s a little better.

 8.   Those same culprits also leave me behind in work any number of things; generally I feel guilty and horrible about getting behind, but I am making progress with putting my health  first.

9.  When I was maybe nine or ten I played the flute briefly.

10.  Music is essential. And I’d really like to learn to play the guitar someday.

11.  I admire or appreciate several people but can’t seem to tell them that. Even friends I love.   I’m often fraid the friendship means more to me than to them.

 

My answers to Amy’s questions:

  1. Do you have regrets, or is regret for suckers?

Sure – but just a few. Not about college, career, etc. though. Regret can be an impetus for growth. I regret not telling my best friend how much he meant to me before he died and not saying goodbye the last time I saw him. I don’t want to let that happen with P, whose friendship means just as much to me. Regret can also be a garbage bag to lug around when one wants to dive head first into a pity party. I regret the hurt I’ve caused others, and things I have or have not said. I do not, however, regret my  horrendous mistakes, my dark years.

  1. What’s your favorite song right now, at this moment?

I’m mostly a classic rock kinda girl and listen to (God help me) what is now considered “older” music, but I often crave a particular song for awhile and play it over and over for a month. Right now that is “Like a Stone” by Audioslave. (Two words: Smokin’ hot. x4.  You can watch the video here.)

  1. What sounds do you hear right now?

Crickets, and the incessant hum of my laptop fan.

  1. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?

On a trip across continents. The first few on the bucket list: Greece, India, Australia, Fiji, Iceland, Bora Bora, back to Italy and, of course, back to the place I love – la France.

  1. What story have you been sitting on and too afraid to tell? Will you ever tell?

It’s about losing the ability to trust oneself. I will. I have to.

  1. Have you or would you date someone ten years younger or older than you?

Yes, I have. And if Robert DeNiro came to me today I’d do it in a hot second.

  1. What do you love about being you?

The same thing that makes me so vulnerable: my intensity. I love, live and work with passion. It is worth every bit of the vulnerability.

        8.  Is monogamy possible, or does everyone cheat?

It is absolutely possible. It is also absolutely possible that people who believe in it go against their own belief. (See question #1) I do think some people say that it isn’t possible so they can justify their own actions or alleviate their guilt. It is also possible that people who believe it is normal to cheat or that everyone does find themselves unable or unwilling to do so.

9.   Paper or plastic?

Neither. BYOBag. But plastic does come in handy; I have a dog, you know.

10.  What do you want to be when you grow up?

Grow up? Who said anything about growing up?

     11.  What five movies do you love?

Heat

Living Out Loud

Leaving Las Vegas

Raising Arizona

Confidence

 

My questions for nominees:

1.         What motivates you?

2.         What are you proud of?

3.         What is your current WIP about?

4.         Do you have anything in particular that you do, music that you listen to, incense burning, or any other thing that is part of your writing mode?

5.         What writer has had the most influence on your own work?

6.         What do you like most about yourself?

7.         Is there anything you’d like to learn at some point, like a hobby?

8.         How old were you when you started writing?

9.         Are you happy with where you are in life right now?

10.       If your house was on fire and you only had a second to grab a couple things, what would  they be?

11.       Is there a story you have been hesitant to tell, and will you ever tell it?

I only have two blogs to nominate right now, but will post others if I come up with them. However, these are awesome blogs, and you should check them out now.

            My Corner of the Catacombs

            The Next Bold Move

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