The Green Study

The Art of Defensiveness

For weeks, I’ve been excited and anxious to start a writers’ workshop. I need critiquing and to learn how to revise and edit better. The workshop has started and I’ve gotten my first critique. My gut response, my very first thoughts out of the gate were: “Screw you! Your comments don’t even make sense. What are your credentials again?” Even as I’m thinking that, I start laughing at myself. I’m skilled at defensiveness. My husband said, “You’ll process the comments in about a year or so.” Having been the recipient and instigator of my retorts, he knows that I’ll be a reasonable person. Eventually.

I think on some days, I walk out into the world wearing a “Whadda you lookin’ at?” expression on my face. I have a curiosity about this reaction. My armor is well-worn and heavy, exhausting to always have on. How do you re-train yourself to stay open, to let things flow through and over you, to take in what you need and discard the rest?

I was trained at an early age to see that nothing in this world was “good enough”, including myself. No matter what self-revelation or epiphany I’ve discovered or had, this is a core point that I struggle with daily – the essential feeling that I could always be better. Always needing to improve is partly cultural. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post “Being Just Right“, we are groomed as consumers to be perpetually dissatisfied with ourselves. The main message is: “You are not good enough as you are.” Fighting external and internal messages in order to maintain some semblance of personal satisfaction requires protection, an ability to fend off those messages and move on.

Becoming skilled in the art of defensiveness means that ofttimes, even the positive messages fail to penetrate. The old “she can’t take a compliment” deal. It’s not modesty. It’s my habit of not letting you or anybody else say jack shit about me. So there. Now let me take this pistol and shoot myself in the other foot. When I compliment someone and they brush it off, I want to grab them by the shoulders and shake them and yell “Don’t you get it? You’re awesome!”

I now force myself to say “thank you” in the face of compliments. Gratitude is much more appealing than coming up with five million reasons for why that person doesn’t know what they’re talking about. Although I will always suspect that they don’t. This re-training may take awhile, but if I hope to gain skills, I need to be open to the teaching.

In taekwondo sparring, you bow to your partner/opponent to show respect, before and after the match. After delivering and receiving repeated kicks and strikes, you bow and then you shake their hand and say : 감사합니다 (kamsahamnida), which is Korean for “thank you”. Initially, I thought sardonically “thank you for beating the crap out of me, now I’ll be limping for a week”. Now I’ve learned to think “thank you for teaching me”.  So, I bow to my writing instructor: I will humbly revise according to your suggestions. Thank you for teaching me.

The World’s Most Dangerous People

Last weekend, while dining out with my family, one of the world’s most dangerous people sat in the booth next to us. She was right. She was sure. She knew that Muslims had demons in them, that Obama would steal the election and that Christians were being killed all over the world. She referred to Democrats as “them” and “those people”. She made sure everyone at the table prayed to a Christian god. She spoke confidently, stridently and in a loud tone that would brook no disagreement. She was absolutely, unquestionably right.

I hesitate to bring up politics and religion in one blog post. If I bragged about money or gave out unsolicited advice about how to raise your children, I will have violated every rule of civility and polite discourse. Worst of all, I don’t know that I’d be right about anything. People who vociferously spout their opinions at every opportunity will say that I lack commitment to my values and beliefs. I have been right at certain points in my life, usually at times when I was young and/or drunk. Since I’m sober and more mature, there is no end to my lack of knowledge, hence no opinion I’d be willing to defend as absolute.

Admittedly, I’m a social liberal, fiscal conservative and a registered Independent. Which means that I believe compromise is the only way to move things forward. Unfortunately, I rarely have all the facts to know what that compromise should be. Most of us don’t, which means a lot of us are being led by our noses, don’t care or have committed to whatever side seems least likely to send our country into the abyss. We’re picking the lesser of two or three evils and then standing behind the candidate as if they shot out our very own birth canals, which would resolve all this chatter about birth certificates (you’ve got one, right?).

As a relatively new blogger, I spend a lot of time perusing other blogs, just in case I don’t feel inferior enough. There are some awesome, informative and well written blogs out there. I can easily spend more time reading them than on my Wikipedia link-clicking ADD trips. Then I run across a few that are spewing venom right out of my monitor. I can only handle a few minutes, before I start wringing my hands on behalf of humanity. The hate. I just don’t get the hate – against entire genders (both sides and in-between the aisles), against cultures, religions, political parties or cats (oh, wait, that was me).

The world’s most dangerous people are those that know they are right and that everyone else “just doesn’t get it”. I admire people who can effectively argue what they believe to be right, but effectiveness turns on a couple of things:

1) Is the argument logical and well-supported or is it repetitious hammering explained in the most lengthy way possible?

2) Have they resorted to name calling when it doesn’t make sense? The weakest blogs usually include a lot of #2 (yes, yes, I have resorted to potty humor). Some misanthropic sycophants may stick around to hang out with the bully, but the depressing nature of hate sends me away. Tongue in cheek is funny, but that’s with the understanding that you’re actually in on the joke.

I’ve made the mistake of reading one post by an author and commenting positively on it. Tip: Always, always read the About page and other posts before engaging a blogger. Now, in perpetuity, I will have commented positively on a blog that perpetuates hostility and division. I believe that it’s good to know all sides of an argument, but there is the huge, dark irrelevant side that insinuates itself into a debate.

Separating the wheat from the chaff, the informative from the bullying, is a challenge. Thinking critically, in a time when we’re being overloaded with so many emphatic messages, means all those advertising and campaign dollars are wasted on me. Maybe that makes me just a little more dangerous than someone who is right.

Plan P

In psychiatric terms, I experience feline homicidal ideation every single day. Here was my mistake: I thought adopting two cats from the humane society would somehow ameliorate the grief I felt over losing my dog, Elliott, after 14 years of loyal and generous companionship. I’ve never ascribed to being either a cat or dog person. Now I can genuinely say I’m no longer a pet person. By the way, say none of the above in front of your vet, unless you want to be considered a “person of interest” in their files.

Pete and August were companionable cats. On occasion, tiny August would smack monster Pete in the head when he became too rowdy. One sunny October day, after a week of misery, we had to have August euthanized to end her suffering from kidney disease. Pete was inconsolable and began to prowl nightly with a lonesome yowl. We decided he needed another friend from the shelter.

Owney was a friendly, vocal cat right from the start and took to our daughter immediately. As I finished filling out the adoption paperwork and paid the fees, the helpful volunteer said “Oh, here’s some more history on Owney.” We were bringing her to her 3rd home. The first home gave her up because she didn’t like children. The second gave her up because she didn’t like other cats. That was my first inkling that this could all go horribly wrong, but try telling your 4 year old that she has to put the kitty back. I remained optimistic. Because I had to.

We followed all the advice on how to introduce a new cat to the resident cat. Owney adored my daughter and slept with her every night from the start. But cut to four years later – poop reprisals, hissing and spitting and swatting when there is even a possibility of food, meowing like a crying baby, which starts at about 4am, random peeing. And that’s just Owney. Pete, for his own part, has continued his tom cat prowling and yowling, stalks Owney at every opportunity and does his best to make us trip over him by walking casually in front of us and then recklessly flopping on his side, a furry speed bump. I do not like our cats, Sam I am.

At our last vet visit, after expressing my frustration with the fighting and the litterbox episodes, the vet suggested an anti-anxiety medication (Prozac, to be specific) for Owney. Really? Can’t she just take up yoga or maybe drinking? I’m a little wary of psychotropic drugs for people, much less for creatures who can’t say things like “I just feel so out of it, like I’m not myself”. I made some derisive comment about how I actually might need the Prozac and left the vet’s office.

Upon remodeling our basement, we realized, after seeing the stains on the old carpet, that things could not stand. Needless to say, our cat is now being medicated. I’ve taken to calling her Stowney and feel compelled to confess to everyone on the planet that my cat is now on Prozac. She still loathes Pete, but her anxiety about the litterbox has dissipated. It’s not the peace we hoped for, but it’s the peace we have.

I love animals and for most of my life, I’ve had a dog or cat. Maybe it’s caretaking at a time when everyone and everything else must be cared for as well. My husband, who had very few pets growing up, thinks it’s weird to have animals that go to the bathroom inside (excluding homo sapiens, apparently). Then that leads to a nonproductive discussion about why I think training cats to sit on a toilet is gross. I love them, but I don’t like them. As they stare at me balefully from their regular posts in my study, I’d say the feeling is mutual.

P.S. Does anybody remember the movie “The Uncanny”? It came out in 1977 and forever altered my ability to be comfortable when cats stare at me.

Fight or…No, Just Fight: Part 2

In families where there has been domestic violence, children often grow up, go their separate ways and never look back. I was the first to leave, joining the Army at 17, with my mother’s signature and a camouflage farewell cake topped with plastic army men. I wanted to pay for college. I wanted to escape a small town history. But mostly I wanted to fulfill my personal mission: To be strong enough so that no one could ever hurt or threaten me again. It was an illusion, this external pursuit of power. Everything twisted was on the inside.

My military intelligence unit was flush with immature, aspiring alcoholics like myself. My boyfriend was always that guy that would get drunk and bust his hand punching the wall near my head at a party. He was the one who quickly reverted to calling me a whore or bitch when I looked at him wrong or didn’t leave with him when he insisted. I had re-created home. I could spend six months out of the year out in the field, drink grown men under the table and haul heavy gear with the best of them. I was tough. But I was very afraid and very alone.

Change cannot be dictated – it comes in tiny shifts of consciousness. In 1987, a little girl named Elizabeth (Lisa Steinberg) Launders was killed by her adoptive father. She was 6 years old and her picture showed up in a lot of magazines. She looked a lot like me at that age. I kept a picture of her in my journal. I began to have vigilante dreams. Occasionally I would gun down my stepfather in a gory fight. Sometimes I was a superhero, stopping muggings and beatings. When I saw the movie “Prince of Tides”, I had a panic attack during the dysfunctional family dinner scene. The fear and the violence was leaving my brain and getting into the rest of my body.

I started to run. If Forrest Gump just popped into your head, well, that was in my head, too. I ran and ran, getting stronger, giving up smoking every other day and giving up drinking entirely. Little choices for positive change on my behalf yielded to bigger decisions – moving, changing jobs, shaking off relationships. Sometimes, it seems a mystery to me how I got here from there. Each step was so small, so incremental.

I met and married a good and honorable man. I had a beautiful child. But becoming a parent had awakened a sleeping giant. I began to dream about the first time I ever saw my mother beaten, when I was 7. I feared that I would not be a good parent for my daughter. I went to therapy for a year. I went to parent education classes. I did what I needed to do to fix myself.

Three years ago, I decided to become stronger, not tougher. I hired a trainer. I got a membership at the local Y. I began to workout regularly and strenuously. Two and a half years ago, I started training in taekwondo. And that brings me to my current black eye.  Getting hit has a way of tapping into my personal rage against powerlessness. I feel it at the edges of my brain – this desire to cause pain. I feel it whenever I read a news story about another hurt child. It’s there and I don’t think it will ever go away.

There is no neat bow to tie my story up. Violence taught me to lie to avoid getting hit. Violence taught me to hate perpetrators. It did not teach me discipline or self-control. Desire to be something more than a victim made me whole. Love made me whole. Love of myself, love of the life I wish to live. I’ve found ways of dealing with the rage that lurks within. Sometimes it’s humor. When my daughter acts up, I’ll say “Alright, it’s time for a stick beating”. She runs away laughing, a child who has never had a hand raised against her. I channel my frustrations into a pounding run or a session on the speed bag or sitting down and writing it out. Rage and violence informs my life, but so do love and compassion and self-control. It’s a fight I can win.

Fight or…No, Just Fight: Part 1

Today, I’m a fighter, sporting a black eye and a lot of bruises. Sparring at Taekwondo was not pretty last night and my inexperience resulted in me being kicked in the face.

This morning at the grocery store, between a few curious, sympathetic looks from people, I felt inexplicable shame. It took me off guard. I cannot, at times, penetrate the inner workings of my brain. Then I looked in the mirror.  I’ve seen this face before. Not my face, but the face of someone I have loved my whole life. I’ve seen her bruised and bleeding and crying. I, with my little clenched angry fists – absolutely powerless to protect my mother. This is a story of my rage and like my sparring, it is not pretty.

I was a witness, and sometimes a recipient, of domestic violence as a child. There was a lot of alcohol involved, followed by angry threats that the whole family would be killed. I try to see it through adult eyes. Was it bluster? Was it idle? It doesn’t matter. I believed we would die. I believed that I would be shot, strangled,  or beaten senseless. I wanted more than anything to be invisible and all powerful. I went to church every week and I prayed first that he would stop drinking. Then I prayed that he would die. I was young and I believed.

The longest nights in the world were waiting for him to come home. I’d lay quiet, listening to the escalating drunken arguments downstairs. We’d all pretend to be asleep, hoping against all hope that he would not do what he had done so many nights. He’d roust us all from our beds, mocking us, yanking on our arms, sneering in our faces. The fear of what would happen was greater than what usually happened, which was that he’d get tired and pass out. One time he passed out over the gas stove, leaning on the knobs until the smell woke us.

On the nights when violence seemed imminent, I’d scoop up my younger siblings while he was distracted and load them in the car so that we could run. But I could never leave without my mother. Once, when I was 13, he started to come at me and I snatched up a cast iron frying pan, preparing to knock him straight into hell. She prevented him from reaching me, a fact that I bitterly held against her for a long time. The flame of adolescent rage had been lit. I began to plot the many ways in which I would kill him.

It was over before I managed to follow through on any plans, most of which involved shovels and shotguns. I hadn’t started my P.D. James English mystery phase or else I would have been all over poisoning him. We finally left one sunny afternoon while he was at work, after enough social service interventions and my mother had saved enough money to rent a place for us to live. I was beginning a new chapter in my life, but like ripples in a pond, the past continued to touch my present and my future.

It’s always a concern when I write family stories. I was supposed to wait until they were dead, before dredging up the past and ripping the family myths wide open. But it’s MY story, too and until I tell it, until it is exhaled out of me, I will not fully embrace a creative life. I am lucky enough to be able to tell it and to walk away with what I need to continue evolving as a person.

Being Just Right

I’ve been putting off writing about an issue that I’ve internalized over the course of a lifetime. I have no magic resolution, no pat answers. It can bring me to tears when I think of the misery and harm I’ve directed towards myself over the years. I didn’t deserve it. No one does. Much has been written about American women and body image. I am an average American woman. And eventually my daughter will be one, too.

There are wonderful books and websites out there about how to help daughters develop decent self-esteem. With misogynist politics as a backdrop, I must tell my daughter to feel good about who she is – against an army of people who want to tell her what is acceptable, attractive, moral and proper. My girl is magic right now – a tomboy who wants to invent things, wear rugged clothes (must have pockets) and dig muddy holes in our backyard. I dread the day someone tries to take that strong sense of self away from her. Attempts will be made and I must be there for her – a defender and a teacher. I have to deconstruct my own belief system, challenge the attitudes that I might pass on to her – look at myself with an unflinching critical eye, so that I am worthy of the task at hand.

Feminism was always about having equal rights under the law and the choice to be your best self until the term was politically hijacked and loaded with negative connotations. I am a feminist, but I’m a pretty shitty one, because I have been affected in my choices and belief system by advertisers, neanderthal ex-boyfriends, other affected women, negative family values and politicians. I’ve been equally affected by courageous women, respectful men and children who see the world as it should be. It’s a battleground in my head and I’ve not yet won the war. I want my daughter’s energies directed towards her potential, not the war of her “should be” self, with its petty daily battles worrying if she looks good enough, if enough people like her or if she is, god forbid, sexy enough.

My girl brims with self-confidence, so I was completely taken off guard when her 2nd grade self asked me “Am I thin, mom?” I had to immediately quash the massive freakout inside my head. I wanted to shake her, yell at the top of my lungs, hug her tightly and wail “NOooooooooooo, you can’t have this one!” Instead, I tried to look all-knowing, smiled and said quietly “You are just right.” Every fiber of my being hoped that every cell of hers would absorb this message. You are just right, my darling child, not perfect, not lacking….just right.

The message I got growing up was different. I didn’t physically take after my mother or grandmother who have, ever since I can remember, been rail thin. In my family, thin was a virtue. Round and short and muscled, I was just wrong. I’ve never been delicate, graceful or particularly feminine. I really, really tried – there was the makeup and the godawful miniskirt club years, and some fledgling attempts at spiky heels. Long hair, short hair, dyed hair. Glasses, contacts, entire days spent with the world in a blur. The reality is that I’m average looking with a decent brain and a twisted sense of humor. I’m the girl you want with you during a mugging, but not necessarily at the prom. And even now, with my knowledge, experience and maturity, I am still not okay with that.

Everyday I see other women who are not okay with that too. They’re the ones that say they’ve accepted themselves and feel so confident, yet they can barely keep their balance on their skyscraper stilettos (although I imagine those shoes would make awesome weapons). They’re the ones reading Cosmo in the checkout lanes. I’m sorry ladies, but unless you’re evolving at a different pace than the rest of us and have sprouted extra limbs and popped a couple new orifices, there’s no way Cosmo came up with 10 more ways to satisfy your man. Happiness doesn’t sell magazines, but sowing the seeds of dissatisfaction sure the hell does.

And that is really what it comes down to – dissatisfaction. We are groomed as consumers and as women to be perpetually dissatisfied with our bodies, our homes, our lives. Dissatisfaction sells padded bras, makeup with horse urine in it, and injections that paralyze facial muscles. And I don’t need to mention all the weird diets out there. I have a relative in her mid-80s and she is still trying to lose weight. Holy shit. You’ve got a couple decades, tops, of your life left and you want to still weigh yourself and drink some chalky shakes? I’d say bring on the booze, chocolate and some smokes. And Shape magazine can kiss my old lady ass.

Deprogramming is tough. It takes deliberate thought and effort to untangle and challenge the messages in my head. I’m chipping away at them and for the sake of my daughter, I won’t stop until I get it just right.

Monday Notes: Mellow Labor Day

I’m an eclectic music listener and am always thrilled to be introduced to new music from any genre. Since I spent time at the Winnipeg Folk Festival this summer, I’m posting some new favorites from the year that lean toward the pop/folksy end of things, but here they are:

Good Old War: Indie band from Philadelphia. Their name is an almagation of the musicians’ names. They stated emphatically that it wasn’t an endorsement of war! Great outside performance at the festival. Current album: Come Back as Rain

Chastity Brown: Musician from Tennessee. I saw her at the Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis, opening for Dar Williams. Her music really sticks with me. Current album: Back-Road Highways

De Temps Antan: French-Canadians out of Quebec. I remember very little high school French, but the energy and winning rhythms made this one of the more entertaining performances at the festival. The ability to play, sing and use tap boxes simultaneously was amazing. Current Album: Les Habits Des Papier

Royal Wood: Once I was done giggling about his name, I really enjoyed his performance in Winnipeg. Current Album: We Were Born to Glory

Dar Williams: Well-known pop/folk singer-songwriter. Saw her at the Cedar in Minneapolis. This song, about one of the costs of war, brought me to tears, but acoustic live performances always hit me differently. Current Album: In the Time of Gods

What new favorite songs or artists

did you discover this summer?

Uncommitted: Being Jack

In high school, we were forced to take an assessment called the Career Occupational Preference Survey (COPS). It was supposed to define the possible kinds of work you might enjoy doing, based on your interests. I was directed towards engineering, public relations or education career clusters.

Nothing I do today remotely relates to any of those careers. My dream jobs run like this, in chronological order of when I thought “it would be awesome to be that when I grow up”: librarian, writer, English teacher, writer, architect, writer, spy, writer, accountant, writer, personal trainer, writer….you see where I’m going with this. Yes, I love to write. Will I be able to squeeze a career out of it? I can’t predict that, but writing does the thing that nothing else does. It allows me to be a little bit of everything, while justifying reading for hours on end as “career development”.

I recently re-read parts of Margaret Lobenstine’s The Renaissance Soul: Life Design for People with Too Many Passions to Pick Just One. I read it several years ago and it was an epiphany. If I had not read this book, my next step would be to have myself evaluated for ADD. Friends were being promoted in careers, finishing advanced degrees, building stable floors under their feet. I was still struggling to figure out what I wanted to do. I was seeing my desire for constant change as a weakness, because I seemed so wishy-washy compared to the solid citizens around me.

Over the years, I’ve halfheartedly committed to the writing life, but like a restricted diet, I assumed that the career of a writer had a formula and if I didn’t follow it, then it was my failure. You get an English or Journalism degree. You hang out with other writers in salons, exchanging bon mots and bed partners. You spill coffee on yourself while running to get the big story. You sit hour after hour plodding away at a typewriter, with a bin nearby overflowing with rejected copy. You write erotic prose after feeding your 500 cats, a neighborhood eccentric in a big floral hat. Or my personal favorite: you spend all your time brooding and drinking and smoking, while snarling angrily at publishers and readers alike. But they put up with you, because on paper, you’re genius.

After reading tons of “how to write”, “when to write” and “what to wear when you’re writing” bits of advice, I’m more convinced than ever that this is a way of life for me. No writer is consistent except that they write. Whether it’s after they’ve finished a triathlon or while they’re laying around in their underwear at 3p.m. nursing a hangover. You can know a little bit about everything or a lot about one thing. It doesn’t matter.

I still argue with myself whether I should get an MFA or set a timer on my desk so that I’m locked into writing time, but that’s just insecurity rearing its ugly head. I’m writing and I’m writing more consistently than I ever have in my life. I’m a jack of many trades and master of none, which is to say that I don’t know much about anything, but whatever I do know, I’ll be sure to write about it.

Back-to-School Special: The AB…ZZZZZZZZZs

Like many parents who have spent the summer with their children, I’m counting down the hours before the start of school. I will also be participating in a school of sorts. Next week, I start a writers’ workshop that runs for a couple of months. I’ve attended writers’ workshops before and have a pronounced aversion to them.

The Loft Literary Center has, with a sheer stroke of agoraphobic genius (and for those of us who loathe trying to find parking downtown), added online workshops to its curriculum. No more trying to avert my eyes while listening to Lonely Dude’s awkward porn (did I date you?). No need to doodle while Ms. Trivial Pursuit details her pedicure and why it makes her feel oh so pretty. No more gritting teeth through “foreshadowing that solves your mystery on the first page” mysteries. I have to admit, I’m a really unhelpful workshop colleague. I have a problem that has plagued me most of my life. The human voice puts me to sleep. And when I must stay awake against my natural inclination to snooze, I get downright mean.

I have never been a particularly good student. When I started college after my Army stint, I was determined to be the student I thought I should be, but it only took one professor to put me into a coma. He was about 400 years old and read his lecture from a binder while sitting at a desk. His notes made a crinkly sound, dried from age and repeated use. It was Ancient Near Eastern History loaded up with Sobekhoteps and Mentuhoteps, so my class notes were neatly written for about half a notebook page before a single line slid down to the bottom of the page, ending with a spot of drool, like the period on an exclamation point.

Even in classes with charismatic teachers, it was only guaranteed that I would finish one page of notes before spending the rest of the time fidgeting, prying my eyelids open and imagining what various pairings of classmates would look like if they were to have sex. Hey – I’d rather be a mental perv than snort myself awake to an entire classroom of people staring at me. My fear was not exaggerated – it really happened to me. Twice.

My nodding off has not been limited to the academic world. I headed off into the business world engaged and enthused until the very first meeting – company orientation. I stayed focused long enough to figure out when I would get paid and where the table with the bagels was located. I dread meetings around conference tables, where everyone can see my head lolling and then snapping to attention as I try to keep myself awake. It’s sheer torture.

The only theory that I have about this problem, is that I like to fall asleep listening to books on tape and sometimes news on the radio. I’ve been doing this since I was a kid, when I would hoard a little transistor under my pillow. As an adult, I listen to anything read by Jim Dale (the Harry Potter audiobook reader) or the news on NPR and I conk out. I’m no good in churches, concerts where there’s too much verbal “fill”, plays that don’t do frequent scenery changes and technology discussions with my husband (okay, that might be about the subject matter). I can read for hours on end, but read to me and you’ve got a small window before my nose starts softly whistling and my head flops forward.

Sometimes you just have to embrace your limitations and find solutions to work around them. The online forum might very well be the place I learn best. At the very least, I’m hoping to be a kinder, more professional workshop classmate. Just don’t expect me at any of your readings.

The Lint Factor

I have gazed at my navel. It is deep, but not unending. This is my 26th blog post and if I didn’t know myself, I’d refer myself to a good therapist. I’ve got another 5 drafts waiting to be rolled out.  Conventional wisdom says that you should “write what you know”. Ouch. 5 posts down the road and I might be tapped out.

My blog posts started out meekly, touching lightly on subjects that I had an interest in but that were not as personal. Now I’ve got skin in the game. The ball has started rolling and I’m a little worried about where it might end up. I’ve only lived 45 years, so at some point I might need to be a real writer and come up with original, non-navel oriented writing. Frightening.

When I started researching blog writing, it was to meet a goal: do something, anything that would make me write regularly. I’m already discovering the pitfalls of having such a friendly community. You start to hunger for the numbers, the praise, the mere acknowledgement that what you are doing is enjoyable to others. You start imagining your words through other people’s eyes. You start editing with an audience in mind. Your voice shifts slightly with painful self-consciousness and your narcissism is rewarded for acting out.  Writing starts to feel less natural, less enjoyable and more like work.

Maybe it’s my midwestern work ethics. I hunger for the struggle, the indicator that tells me I have earned what I have reaped.  It’s not supposed to be easy or fun or fulfilling without the blood, sweat and tears.  I have a feeling that the “struggling writer” portion of the program is about to begin. This is mildly better than the “starving artist” plan. All that navel gazing made me hungry.

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