Blogs Are Stupid

Doesn't anyone believe in Dear Diary anymore? What happened to the joy of putting actual pen to paper? And why does every ordinary Jane and John think they can write well enough to burden the world with their scribblings? It’s a mystery that badly needs solving. My first entry contains my thoughts about blogging and will set your expectations. The rest will probably be stream of consciousness garbage, much like you’ll find on any other blog. Perhaps we will both come away enlightened.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

No Guts, No Glory

I've been writing ever since I could write. Not writing would be like not breathing. It is the most effective kind of Spiritual Lipstick for me. I always said that "someday" I would pursue writing as a career in earnest. But...I left home at 18, and I had to eat. So I took a series of well-paying but essentially meaningless jobs and climbed my way up the corprorate ladder. I was proud of having worked my way up to the position I held, but it was still just a job, and a boring one at that.

Then I had kids. While pregnant with my first child, I lost my job in a corporate reorganization. After a couple months of panic we realized we could make it work on one salary and I became a stay at home mom. The next ten years FLEW by in a blur of sleepless nights, and action packed days. I truly enjoyed being a stay at home Mom, and I really believed in the value of staying at home. But I'll admit that I'm one of those women who became consumed by motherhood. I made no provisions for the day when the kids would no longer be my entire focus.

Two years ago, after 9 years of being on duty 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, my youngest entered kindergarten and suddenly, I had six glorious hours to spend in whatever selfish pursuit I desired. I almost didn't know what to do with myself. I dabbled in PTA for a while, chairing the Cultural Arts Committee for several years. I found it enjoyable and rewarding, and it gave my atrophied brain some much needed exercise. But soon the politics (yes, politics in Elementary School PTA...this is not your Mother's PTA honey.), the cliquishness and the petty bickering wore thin. I bowed out as gracefully as I could and while I don't regret a moment spent trying to create and promote enrichment programs for the school, nor do I regret the decision to step down. My life is infinitely more enjoyable without a dagger protruding from between my shoulder blades.

I became a Doula for a while, and found it enormously fulfilling. But natural birth hasn't really caught on here in the South, where, despite the progressive window dressing, new ideas take a long time to gain acceptance. Most of the time my proposals were greeted with a blank look, a non-commital nod, and a promise to get in touch. When I did land a client, I felt impeded and frustrated by archaic and restrictive hospital policies and legislation regarding home birth that was ambiguous at best. I seriously considered enrolling in Midwifery school, but I had to be realistic about the burden this would place on my family. Its an arduous process with heavy demands on time and personal resources.

So I started writing again. I never really stopped, but I certainly hadn't been putting the kind of energy into it that allowed me to turn out anything of substance. I started making a point to write each day and it felt GOOD. And I've come to the realization that "someday" is upon me. I don't want to wake up one day and realize that "someday" has come and gone. I read that Frank McCourt didn't write Angela's Ashes until he was 64. I think that's admirable, but frankly, I don't want to wait that long. Already I feel that I've wasted too much time.

I don't even know where to begin. So I did what I always do when that is the case: I hit the bookstore and purchased an armload of books on how to get started on a writing career. I subscribed to Writer's Digest and I scoured the web and bookmarked about a million blogs by and for writers. I may even take a few classes at the local university.

I don't expect this to happen overnight and honestly, I will be astounded if it happens at all. I've got no "clips" and I've got no practical experience, but I've also got nothing to lose. So, if you're a writer and you have some advice to offer. Lay it on me. I am all ears.

12 Comments:

  • At 10:11 PM, Anonymous Kristen said…

    My doula had to drive 2 hours to get to me (the closest in my area -MS). I don't have much to offer in terms of advice, but I think that's great! Go for it.

     
  • At 10:11 PM, Anonymous reluctant housewife said…

    I have no advice to offer, but I say good for you!

    You know how I feel about your writing, so you've got a reader right here.

    Let us know what type of writing you are thinking of when you're ready!

     
  • At 7:19 AM, Blogger Mom101 said…

    you're speaking my language mama! Spiritual Lipstick is just genius.

    Get online with literary mama or brain, child or one of their ilk, find submission guidelines, and just start sending them stuff. Once you're published--voila, a clip. Then you can hit the magazines. Good luck! Because that's all you need; you already have the talent.
    (Fwiw I'm reading the brain,child greatest hits right now and you're as good or better than a lot of the stuff in there).

     
  • At 8:50 AM, Blogger kevin said…

    I think tenacity is the key. When I was a member of a local writing group (back before I realized you had to sit quietly while other people read as opposed to just having a captive audience for your own writings), and one member showed us her box of index cards where she had compiled a file of articles and queries she had submitted and what responses she got from various publications. Her positive responses were few and far between, and they were from smaller trade or niche marketing publications that I wouldn't have cared to write for. Nonetheless, they did get her some credits to her name, and she now appears as an occasional guest writer for the Atlanta Journal and Constitution.

    I sent out a short story to several literary journals a few years ago and received rejection after rejection. My most cherished response was from Suwannee Review who said that while they opted not to publish it, they had debated before deciding so and told me what they liked and didn't.

    Zoetrope.com is a good way to get honest feedback on what you've written, but unfortunately like the writer's group, you have to agree to be a team player.

     
  • At 12:41 PM, Blogger Mrs. Chicky said…

    Sorry, no advice here - I'm a reader not a writer. With that said, I've devoured everything that I could get my hands on since I learned how to read, and your blog consistently makes me want to put down whatever book I have in my lap to find out what you have to say. Best of luck. I can't wait to see you published.

     
  • At 1:13 PM, Blogger Jess Riley said…

    Second last paragraph? Just what I did. And then I got my butt in the chair and forced myself to write. 7 years of honing my craft, getting rejected, and one horrible unpublished manuscript in a drawer later, I've finally got a book contract.

    You're a fantastic writer, and I know you'll get there. Go for it, sistah.

     
  • At 1:57 PM, Blogger Blog Antagonist said…

    You guys are the greatest! I thank you all for your kind comments, encouragement, and advice. You've really made me believe that I can do this and that's no small thing.
    :?)

     
  • At 5:05 PM, Blogger MrsFortune said…

    I do consider myself a writer, because I write (and Chicky? you write = you are a writer), but no advice for ya. Except this: I'll read whatever it is you put out. :-) And I don't mean that in a sexual way.

     
  • At 6:23 PM, Anonymous betsy said…

    Ahh, B.A.........it will be fun to watch you on this journey. I hope it is a fun, fulfilling adventure for you. Thanks for letting us into your world and taking us along on the ride.

    As a side, there is a young lady (student) at my kid's school. "A" is a gymnast - national champion. I volunteer a lot at school, and a couple of years ago I asked A for her autograph. (I think a lot of us wanted to say we knew her before she became famous.) She shyly put her name on a paper for me - but only her FIRST name. I told her I needed the first and last so that it would be more official - she's so sweet and innocent and is only now starting to understand the fame. That made me laugh, though.

    I wish you all the best, my friend. Please keep us updated on how your writing goes. Ups, downs, whatever. Just know that many people care about you!

     
  • At 9:41 PM, Blogger sunshine scribe said…

    I agree with the other commenters. You are already a writer. A talented one. You already have readers. So now you just need someone to validate that, write you a cheque and put your name in lights. You can SO do this. Best of luck!

     
  • At 11:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Definitely take some classes and put what you consider to be your best work forward for serious critique.

    Having worked on both sides of the desk, editors most often want near ready-for-print pieces that don't need, oddly enough, a lot of editing.

    Edit, edit, edit, revise, revise, revise.

    Cliches are odious.

    Other than that, write away.

     
  • At 11:39 PM, Blogger lynsalyns said…

    Start by writing for free. Small weeklies ALWAYS need copy. Look for free magazines in your area (Big City Parent, Small Town Career Woman, etc.) and offer to write for free. Then you have clips.

    Also, elance.com can help with finding paying jobs that will boost your portfolio.

    In short, don't be proud. Take any assignment you can get to get your clip file going.

    And keep up the blog -- its awesome!

     

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