A week has lapsed since I last blogged. The best intentions, right? The reason is I’ve been working full tilt on a segment of my Sooper Seekrit Projekt. This project requires a lot of learning on the fly – A LOT, – watching instructional videos, and simply doing by trial and error. And it has led me back to my ongoing battle with time.
Since it’s only February, I imagine Father Time (why not Mother Time?) is still a tot stumbling around crying for attention and structure. I want to make him behave but I’m not good with children, especially the toddler variety. Time isn’t exactly my nemesis but I struggle to keep him to a schedule. Because of this project, I’ve gone from long naps in the afternoon to staying up until the wee hours primarily because there is so much preparation to finish before I can even start. I wake feeling harried and tired. Before I can put my feet on the floor, Little Time is up and off to the races again.
I’ve been instructed by well meaning types (who are just naturally organized) to create a set schedule and stick to it. But Time cries so to watch that extra video, spruce up this blog post one more time, or figure out just what a “headline analyzer” and a “AISEO” are blinking on my WordPress dashboard. (It just turned green! Is that…good?) Before I know it, my carefully crafted schedule goes from late to ruined. And there’s the matter of my creative processes. Ideas and sentences must percolate before I write them. Even Toddler Time beating on a pan with his spoon can’t rush it. So whether it’s by allotting bigger time blocks in my schedule, or buying more hours in a day, I’ve got to get a better grip on time management.
So Dear Reader, what do you do to manage your time?
Back in the Jurassic Age, I was a lawyer. Courtrooms could be cavernous, swallowing up sound, so I plunked down money for state of the art hearing aids. That meant that they were molded in one piece and fit in the ear. I could control the volume on the piece and didn’t need a little black box that hung around the neck or fit in a pocket. I loved them until I realized they magnified all the noises I could already hear and nothing else. They drove me crazy. Into a drawer they went and years later, out with the trash.
So 27 years after my first failed experience, I decided to try again. Although I’ve been hearing impaired since birth (mostly deaf in the right, partially in the left), what remains has been gradually disappearing. Friends told me that I heard less. I found myself growing quieter and quieter in noisy social situations. I’d become so accustomed to the sound of silence that I didn’t realize how bad things were until the audiology test. To my dismay, the spikes and lines dipped much lower and the good ear had lost a great deal of word comprehension in noisy environments. Literature lying around warned that increasing deafness carried a higher risk of dementia. So I bought more state of the art digital hearing aids, fully programmable, and geared to amplifying the sounds I need. My geeky soul was thrilled. The audiologist stated he wouldn’t program the devices to full capacity so that the wall of noise wouldn’t knock me over. Instead he would increase the volume over a 45 day trial period which would allow my brain to adjust. Even so, the variety and loudness of sounds have been startling. Literally. I’ve jumped at every odd noise since beginning this post. Is the strangely loud washing really breaking down? I have clue.
The new high tech. Starkey Halo 2 hearing aid
Naturally my high tech gear has not come without glitches. The devices should be programmable with my iPhone allowing me to take calls and listen to music – that is if the damn phone will see them. One hour with the audiologist and two and half hours with Apple troubleshooting have yielded no fully functioning hearing aids. There’s another audiological appointment on Friday. Apple swears they are working on their end, and I’m about to bring Starkey, the manufacturer, into this. Needless to say, these iPhone friendly devices will be returned if they aren’t iPhone friendly soon.
All of this reminds me of another type of deafness which leaves people isolated in their personal bubble of silence. Simon and Garfunkel sang about it in Sound of Silence.
I imitated one of my fictional stories and joined a writers’ group at the nearby library last November. The group is fluid, consisting of about five older regulars and a revolving number of newcomers (to me). They meet the second and fourth Monday on the month to read our stuff and have it critiqued.
My attendance had been interrupted by first by the holidays, then visitors and finally an unshakable writing paralysis. I’d submitted an old ghost story for the group to review and happily survived the process. Nobody skewered me; they’d enjoyed the story (although it needed a few tweaks) and looked forward to seeing more of my work.
But my muse was missing in action. How could I critique others’ work when I had nothing really to offer up? Many in the group were working on novels and bringing in chapters. I hadn’t written anything for quite some time and felt like a fraud. Walking past the library to the local cantina, I remembered that it was again the fourth Monday of the month. I mulled over a rather delicious strawberry margarita. Should I go? Sure, said the margarita. There will be other muses there. Maybe you’ll catch one! Making a mental note not to order a big drink next time, I rushed to the meeting, hoping to catch a muse that was non-alcoholic.
The regulars greeted me as if I’d never been away but no muse jumped me at the door. The usual suspects pulled out their book chapters. Wait, I blurted out. Does anybody have writer’s block? One man raised his hand. We exchanged battle weary sighs. You just have to write, said the novelists. You just have to sit down and do it. Don’t wait for a muse. Try to write a sentence differently. Write nonsense. But you just have to write and the rest will come. The facilitator asked who would submit a story for next time? Well, I had a short story. It’s old, I added as if an apology. We wouldn’t have known that until you told us, they said. It doesn’t matter. Then they bowed their heads and began critiquing.
I looked around the room at the writers laboring over their literary children. Some were inspired, some weren’t. Then I recalled that the man with his writer’s block had yet to submit a completed story while I was there, but he never missed a meeting. That’s tenacity.
Even though I already intellectually knew their advice, there’s nothing like a group of writers poring over their work, saying it aloud that puts things in perspective.
Warning: stream of consciousness and possible movie spoilers ahead.
I watched some of the Oscars last night. Frankly I didn’t care enough because many of the film scripts seemed to be written as a How Not to Write One. I know script writing is different from crafting novels but aren’t stories supposed to have a payoff at the end to reward us for watching? Manchester by the Sea is one example. The protagonist Lee, well played by Casey Affleck, is a sad, sad sack with serious issues stemming from a tragedy that left him stunted. We watch him flailing through life hoping that he might learn something by the end and then – that’s it. There’s no payoff for sitting through this two hour sad, sad drama, unless Lee’s inability to deal was the point. Such an ending might suffice in a book but it made for an unsatisfying ending for a film.
Manchester by the Sea won for Best Script which goes to show either I don’t know what I’m talking about or the Oscars are too highbrow for me.
I used to enjoy gown watching. Now I don’t even know who most of the actresses are (and actors for that matter). Must be getting old.
I heard Justin Timberlake instead of Jimmy Kimmel did the opening number. Is that legal? Aren’t hosts supposed to sing?
La La Land was the victim of its own hype. After garnering 14 nominations, I expected Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone to knock my socks off. While they did credible jobs, neither are singers or dancers (although Ryan did amazing key work) and I believe the awesome cinematography and retro-musical feel unfortunately highlighted this problem. Plus the songs didn’t leave me humming anything afterwards. I really wanted to like this movie, but it was Ho Hum Land for me.
La La Land won 6 Oscars. I just don’t get it.
Denzel Washington was robbed.
Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty did a Steve Harvey. *snicker*
Maybe my tastes are becoming too provincial and pedestrian.
It’s been almost a year and a half since my last post – way too long.
When I left off in August 2015, things were Not Good ™. I languished in a cramped suburban apartment across the lane from a pile driving construction zone basically cut off from an accessible train and a close living hub when I could not overcome driving anxiety or afford an expensive $20 plus cab ride one way. Friends did what they could. The long battle with Winston, the black dog of depression left me in financial shambles. I had to weather a waiting game while my credit healed. Meanwhile I entered like an emotional Big Sleep where everything felt temporary and unimportant. Since I would restart my life when I finally found a place to land, why bother with anything while in a holding pattern? Needless to say, motivation and I were estranged. Everything took a nosedive except for knitting, a hobby I took up as a mental distraction and life line. Except for last year’s aborted attempts, I did not write. There was no there there.
I drifted along this way for 18 months.
Then four month ago, the credit gods smiled and I found a condo downtown in a leafy little village, two blocks from the train and no more than four blocks from shops, doctors, the movie theater and anything else I regularly need. The grocery is only a six block drive down side streets. As I cheered over this, a spectacular streak of bad luck brought me up short with a day in the hospital (mine), eye surgery (mine), another hospital stay (Patty the Pomeranian), another dental surgery (mine), and yet more future bills, courtesy of Patty. Really wish I knew which Fates I offended; I could knit them a conciliatory sweater for Christmas.
Anyway now it’s time to slip back into the stream of things, rejoin life and start writing again.
So, as chef Justin Wilson used to say in his best corny Cajun accent: How y’all are?
Years ago in the film Love Actually, British Colin Frissell can’t find a girlfriend at home. So he journeys to the U.S. in search of one. To his surprise, he finds himself a hit with American women the moment he opens his mouth. It seems American women dig British accents. Of course, this was hilarious to me because I’ve been exposed to British accents since I can remember. (I blame PBS and my mother’s undying crush on Laurence Olivier). So this phenomenon didn’t really surprise me, although my crushes on British actors have been totally incidental. Naturally.
Flash forward to last week. A few of us were chatting about the latest Into the Storm trailer and analyzing what we could of Richard Armitage’s American accent. While I couldn’t separate his voice from the background noise, a few said they thought the accent pretty decent. Then I heard something to this effect:
“As soon as he spoke American, he lost part of his sex appeal.”
My mouth nearly fell open at the heresy before my inner anti-fangurl exclaimed “that’s right, he’s British!” One chatter recounted how one favorite actor’s sex appeal leached away the moment he spoke in an American accent (dreadfully). This brings me to another meandering thought: it that why Americans are so keen on foreign actors getting American accents right – is it because of the aural dissonance, or the resulting perception of declining sex appeal? They’re just not that hot without the Queen’s English? There’s no real reason why this should be except maybe prove the adage “everything is greener on the other side of the street,” or pond, as the case may be. I picture RA trying out a Chi-caw-go accent with me listening incredulously and wondering what I ever saw him. Would I beg him to “speak British” again? Could that possibly happen if I were wearing a blindfold?
I can’t decide how I feel about RA sprouting an American accent. I do know what if he fails to impress in the few scenes, I won’t be able to take him seriously the rest of the movie. It sets my teeth on edge to hear an accent done poorly. Truly, I’ve reacted the same way with other actors. But will I find him less sexy? I don’t know yet. Maybe the wet shirt will make up for that.
What do you think? Honesty will get you kudos. Total heresy will get you cookies.
I’ve been reveling in the good feeling so much lately, it’s hard to write seriously. I’ve not been keeping up with whathisname; as a result, The Man has been up to something but I’m not sure what. Maaaybe. BWAHAHAHA! Additional ideas in the comments would be helpful too. Also, I planned a dissection of Richard Armitage 3.0 since December but so much time has elapsed that I’ll cut to the chase and issue the Report Card. Yes, it’s actually going to get done. Will I give great marks? Well, wait and see.
A friend suggested that it’s time restart the chat room, Armitage World. I started it in June 2011 during the first wave of fans. Now since the Hobbit, there’s been another wave of new fans, blogs and tumblrs. Armitage World is an IRC chat (old fashioned I know) where people can come at any time to get to know each other and form real friendships. I’ve met several lovely people in Real Life through the chatroom. The process is very simple: click on “chat” in the sidebar to the right. Create a name and click OK. Presto, you’ll in the chat. I will be there most evenings from 7:30PM CDT onwards. However, if chat is empty when you arrive, just sit tight, and somebody will appear. I urge the European contingent to use the room also. The room is open to all RA fandom. The rules are geared to embrace the most users: no racist, sexist, or homophobic comments; no spamming; and no advertising. Chatters should be 18 and older; topics can get raunchy, so remember that the last 20 lines stay on the screen. I’m also looking around for a more modern program but lets get the party started! (I hear there’s another chatroom operating too, but it’s nice to have different options).
Remember when you’re in a particular mood, everything you see and hear reinforces that mood? I’m in an extended version of that. I take five medications to keep myself even keel. For two years as the number of pills rose and fell, I groused that I had to take even one. Eventually, as the number crept up, I became resigned to the idea of ingesting medication cocktails, something which horrified me since my job dealt with mainly failed therapeutic and pharmaceutical attempts to gain “normalcy.” I referred sarcastically to them as my “Happy Pills” because they weren’t actually making me happy. The idea of being upbeat and happy was as alien and weird as my perky friend chirped when my backpack was stolen in London: “well, we’ve never been to a British police station before!” (No, I didn’t smack her). However as the depression receded, I realized that the little compressed rolls of chemicals really were my happy pills. Now I’m horrified not at the number but at the niggling fear that I might have forgotten to take them. (That’s usually just a momentary fear of relapse).
This has been the lock screen on my iPhone. I found the smiley faces in an app program and edited the words. The old me would have found the picture corny and nauseating overkill; adding the words would have been inconceivable. Now both the picture and words have meaning. Each pill says that I need and must not forget them; if they fail, then there will be other pills to take their place. They aren’t a cure or a panacea; only a means by which I can live life fully. The words remind me to live that life and appreciate it, no matter how small the activity. So each morning when I wake feeling contented and exhilarated, I revel that feeling. If my new sheets feels especially soft, I roll around in them. When I opened the blinds finally and washed the bedroom windows after three years, I felt pride in the accomplishment instead of fixating on the dirt and the cobweb. (Yikes!) When completing a task, I congratulate myself. When speaking to a neighbor, I smile. When petting Patty, cheer that she’s happy, healthy and groomed. I concentrate on the positive side of things. So I understand my friend a little better now. While I might not bounce to the police station, I do stay “GOOD morning” to people and mean it. ***
*** Don’t worry. I’ve got a gallon of Snarky Pills on the side too. I’ll take one tomorrow. SHHHH!
With a change in medication regimen, my mood has been stabilized on the positive side of neutral for almost three weeks. This has been the longest stretch since the London trip in June 2011. Dr. G. tried this regimen previously, but wondered if it would work sans work stress. Voila! I feel good. I know there’s no cure for depression, but I hope this regimen has a long viability.
So why haven’t I been blogging? Interesting question. I mulled over this for some time with Dr. G. Why haven’t I been motivated to blog since I feel so good? The answer: because I feel so good. Good feelings are a positive motivation, but my entire life has been controlled by reflex reactions to dire external consequences. Negative motivation is an entrenched behavior, and such a thing is very, very difficult to change. Musing that I want to do X, so it gets done is an unusual and unfamiliar concept. Distraction and desperation motivated the previous long stretch of blogging. Now, what’s stressful about happy feelings? Dr. G., who has been pushing blogging big time, suggested working up to writing my novel (did I mention that?) as a motivation. But realization of a real book won’t happen for years; it doesn’t have the punch of immediacy. No pressure? Oh dear. No matter my real or imagined excuses, I’ve decided to allot time every morning after rising to blog, write – type something. Let’s see how this goes.
So what have I been doing for almost three weeks? Making busy work and plans. Firstly, there will be no more snap decisions – retirement was enough. I need to move forward with careful consideration. The condo sale is on hold because 1) I love the place and am not ready for any emotional fallout from suddenly wrenching myself away, and 2) I don’t know where to land and certainly don’t want to move someplace I don’t want to be, and 3) I can feasibly stay for another year while I sort things (repairs, painting, clean-out, etc.). I’ll have more than enough time to research living in other parts of the city or the suburbs while becoming mentally and physically fit.
Also, I’ve been PC video gaming, namely playing RIFT. Now don’t laugh; this has been therapeutic. I played game therapy for psych rehab in the wilds of Ohio with my friend a few weeks ago. The first half of the week, she beat me easily, every single game. Ridiculously simple-minded and silly mistakes characterized my play. I used to be a damn good player and this secretly chapped my ass. However, because of focus and concentration issues, my ability to persist in either has eroded badly. It’s been like an atrophying muscle. So I hunkered down and exercised it over the week. By the end of the trip, I finally won several games. So when RIFT went “free to play,” I decided to check it out again. Gaming requires extended periods of concentration. The characters embark on missions called quests, work on trade skills, duel, etc. etc. etc. It’s a massive time sink. After an initial stretch of play, my interest quickly waned but then I discovered a game aspect called Dimensions. A dimension is the player’s own world crafted with special items. If it’s not sold in-game, it has to be made or recreated (morphed). For example, there is no item called a turkey dinner platter, so it must be recreated. I must break the image down into parts and conceptualize what obtainable items can be rotated, flipped, sized, pushed, and pulled to look like a real turkey dinner platter (3 burlap bags, 6 decorative sweetberries, and a patterned urn). The morphing requires a lot of focus and thought. So, I’ve been crafting in my own dimension (my inner decorator is happy) while gaming, and exercising focus and concentration. Bizarre, eh? But it’s working. Eventually, this interest will wane (after I finish six more tiers), but that focus muscle will be a little stronger.
The Great Room. Most of the furniture is crafted.
Everything crafted but the walls and floor.
My character and her dog in a top hat of course, Kirby.
I built EVERYTHING – including the house.
Luxurious bathroom. I made that.
So, I suppose the odd gaming has created a POSITIVE motivation in psych rehab. Who knew?
Yes, I’m terribly late to the party as usual, but Happy New Year to all. Welcome, new subscribers and viewers to this blog. I’m always amazed by the traffic here even when there’s nothing new to read. Thanks for coming and do feel free to look through the archive. Also, thank you Dear Readers for your encouragement and steadfastness. Your patience will be rewarded with more posts soon. In fact, it’s on doctor’s orders. Seriously. But more on that later.
Since the end of November, ArmitageWorld has gone from famine to feast, a glut actually. It’s provided a cornucopia of subjects to discuss. There’s still the review of The Hobbit, and a second (and third) look at Thorin. Then, there’s the epic Richard Armitage report card. Truth be told, settling on criteria for assessment has been giving me fits, but it’s beeen sorted. I’m binding and gagging Inner Fangurl, and aiming for the most fair and impartial perspective view possible. Well, as impartial as an anti-fangurl can be. (Yes, I’m still searching for how to really describe myself). I’ve also altered the focus from his performance at the NZ premiere to the entire Hobbit tour. The emergence of RA on the world stage has been too fascinating not to cover in entirety. Later on, I’ll discuss who I think he is, or isn’t.
Speaking of fascinating, I’ve also been observing fandom’s reaction to the film and tour. As this blog’s title states, I enjoy watching people. Even though I’ve been in fandom’s for 20 years, I’ve never had a chance to observe firsthand, a fandom’s response to a crush’s rapid ascension to potential stardom. It’s been quite interesting. I might get run out of fandom on a rail, but you’re get my unvarnished opinions on my perception of ArmitageWorld after 2+ years, the changes occuring within it, and where I see it heading.
This all reminds me: my 2nd blogiversary passed on December 28, 2012. A lot has happened in these past two years personally. I’ll explore what it has meant for me, where I am currently, and hope to be in the next year. You’ll see more short stories with my inner trio, Jada, Jodi, and Quiet One (let’s not forget Patty the pom and Dr.G.); the conflicted muses (Sir Guy vs. Thorin?); excerpts from a possible mystery; The Man; and anything else escaping from my fevered imaginings.
Does that sound like enough to kick off 2013? Stay tuned.
Oh, and have pic.
Richard Armitage in 2004 photo shoot, courtesy RichardArmitageNet.com
Yes, I’m late with today’s post. The problem is my mind is a vast desert today, and a certain person’s birthday is creeping up tomorrow. This aggravates the situation by requiring me to say something… you know… nice … about him. Eeek! My lazy side said: “he doesn’t care for his birthdays; so let’s honor him by ignoring him! YAY!” But that seemed a bit … well… too easy.
So, I’m leaving it to you Dear Reader. What would you like me to write for the Big Day? This is your chance to direct my temperamental muse who is being quite emo as I type.
Give it your best shot!
BTW, take another look at Fitzg’s post on Monday. Sorry for the tech difficulty.
Today was supposed to have been the return of Fitzg’s Journeys, but in a spasm of email inbox cleaning last night, I managed to delete the post. Again. Not good. I can’t download anything on this computer to upload to the blog, so there’s no pretty picture to distract (and I had a very nice one, too). The last option was to share a peek into the inner workings of my mind. I took a peek just now and got laughed out, so that’s not happening either.
So, I’m resorting the last measure – shameless flogging. The lunch break is too short for subtlety, so here goes: welcome to my blog, new subscribers and lurkers! I’m an old hand at fandoms and lurked in the Richard Armitage community for several months before accidentally (seriously) starting this blog in December 2010. After hemming and hawing for awhile, I decided to use this space to kickstart the writing and drawing I’d neglected for a long time. Along the way, I’ve shared pieces of myself while pushing through the creativity blocks. The experiment has been quite interesting for me both as an artist and an observer of your reactions.
As for RA, while I’m a fan, I’m not an ardent one, so that’s allowed me to step back and view fandom a bit dispassionately, and call things as I see it. In my experience, a fandom can run into trouble when it starts taking itself (and the crush) too seriously. It’s dangerous when fans become more focused on their perceptions of themselves and others as fans, and less on the purpose of being a fan, mainly enjoying the qualities and work of the crush and each others’ contributions and individuality as fans.
Somehow I’ve developed a reputation as resident pot-stirrer and sh*t kicker. Can’t imagine how that happened… I’m really quite shy and quiet in real life. Although my style can be snarky (hopefully humorously so) and occasionally biting, it’s done with an eye to reminding ourselves that perspective is always key, and done always – always with love towards other fans and Mr. Armitage.
So, feel free to browse through the blog but clicking the tags and categories at the right side of this page. I’m particularly proud of several topics for various reasons: For those affect by or caring for others suffering from depression, the fanfic posts including a short story called The Chest (email me for the password if you can’t guess it), and assorted writings.
If you have comments, complaints, suggestions, or just want to share, feel free to contact me by clicking the Contact Me tab at the top of page.
Ah, Thanksgiving, the day when we pause to commemorate the story of the Pilgrims and the Indians breaking fish and maize together, and give thanks for all we have -on some other blog. On my blog, I believe in getting down to what really matters – the FOOD.
For most of my childhood and adolescence, food was a big deal in my family. My mother prepared the meal with me acting as second chef. This continued until I was old enough to take over the whole meal. Preparation started at the stroke of 3:00PM with cleaning of the giant 20+ pound turkey. (Yes, we cooked enough for an army). It had to have a high breast and plump legs or it couldn’t darken the door of my mother’s kitchen. We extracted the giblets and neck, putting them on cook with chicken thighs, while thoroughly cleaning, drying and salting the bird, and storing it in the fridge. My mother mixed the cornbread batter while I chopped and cried over a bag of onions, green peppers, and stalks of celery, first by hand and then with a food processor when they came into vogue. ( Then I cried for joy over the Cuisinart.) The cornbread mixture was poured into cast iron skillets to bake. Two hours later, we had enough cornbread dressing to fill the bird and a small pan besides. We stored this away.
Next came mustard potato salad made with 10 pounds of red potatoes, celery, onions, and green peppers. Did you know that the right amount of mustard, sugar and vinegar produce the taste of eggs? It’s true. The potatoes had to be peeled and cut while still hot. Over the years, we acquired hands like asbestos although we always had ice cold water to dip our fingers on hand. The Making of Potato Salad was a family secret with my mother and I huddled over the pan, sampling for The Right Taste, adding a bit of this, a tad of that until BINGO! it was finished.
Then I would put on the sweet potatoes to boil. These would be cooked until tender and left in the giant pot until the next day for the candied sweets. Then we would take a break, mop our brows and plan dessert. When I was small, my mother made sweet potato pies from scratch. Sadly I never learned the secret of the tender, flakey crust. She had to bake at least six pies because everybody wanted one to take home, they were that good. She also made a three layer pineapple cake from scratch which I eventually took over. My cakes were always moist and light, I must say. Eventually dessert became just the cake. After 6-7 hours of straight cooking we called it a night.
The next morning, we rose at 7AM to dress the monster turkey and stuff it. The thing would be so heavy my dad would muscle it into the oven. Then I made the macaroni and cheese from scratch while my mother prepared the candied sweets. Then we fixed the vegetables, usually, broccoli and cheese, asparagus, and green beans to balance out all those starches. The giblet gravy was the last dish prepared. We never did casseroles or mashed potatoes since most of the dishes were southern. In my grandmother’s time, there was also a Virginia honey baked ham and probably a capon. Like I said, enough food for an army.
At precisely 2PM dinner was served, and the horde would descend, usually eating in shifts around the large table. They made short shrift of all that food, leaving a quarter of the monster turkey, a small pan of stuffing, another pan of candied sweets I’d have hidden away, and a spoonful of all the vegetables. Mom and I never ate much because we tasted it already while cooking. It was exhausting work, but we always had a sense of satisfaction having cooked a great meal.
Today, my parents are gone and the family is dispersed around the country, so I usually visit a friend’s house for Thanksgiving. I haven’t cooked a Thanksgiving dinner in at least 14 years. But sometimes when I’m walking down the hall of my building, I smell the aroma of onions and celery sauteeing and it all comes back, the Thanksgivings of days gone by.
As you may know, I’m rediscovering some of my old creativity. For the last few days I’ve been engrossed in drawing, something I hadn’t done in almost 15 years. Picking up the pencil again was like coming home. Drawing is like riding a bike; you never really forget. So I didn’t have to fear losing “it.” It was always there waiting.
As I sketched, other feelings rose to the surface and I found myself becoming crabby and bitchy. (Okay, crabbier and bitchier.) Why was I becoming discombobulated? Finally I realized these were negative feelings from my adolescence and early adulthood. I frequently sketched during this time and the feelings became associated with drawing. (If you’ve been keeping up with my psyche trio and Winston, you expect that Jada thought “more fodder for Dr. G!” Jodi groaned, and Quiet One was quiet. Winston cocked his head in interest but I drugged him.) I know right away the answer is to associate new positive feelings for the bad ones. But the biggest issue is all about letting go.
It occurred to me that although this blog’s focus has been about rediscovering my creativity, it’s been necessary to get through obstacles blocking that creativity. I was wary about starting a blog because I was afraid I wouldn’t have anything to say. Writing frustrated me because the words wouldn’t flow and I worried they wouldn’t ever. I feared I’d lost the talent to draw. I had trepidation journeying to a foreign country because I was scared to be all alone for the first time. All of these were unnecessary fears because when I determined to move ahead, I saw none of them were true. I didn’t have to push or crush or shatter these fears to get around them; all I had to do was let go.
So this journey has also involves discarding old preconceptions of the way I was and the way I am now. The more I let go of the way I was, the more I can see the possibilities, the potential, the rising creativity now. This might seem a “Duh!” moment. Twenty years ago, I paid a therapist a lot of money to tell me this. But as we know, Dear Reader, what is intellectually obvious never sinks in until the mind is ready to accept it.
I’m on a bigger journey than I originally anticipated at the beginning of this blog. As I let go of old issues, I wonder what will unfold. I don’t forsee becoming the next Picasso with some Zora Neale Hurston on the side, but I do hope to one day “fully realize my potential” as motivational speakers love to say. If I don’t, hopefully there will be some more nice stories, drawings and travelogues in the mix.
For the past few days, I’ve discussed my experience with blogging, so have RAFrenzy and Servetus. So the question remains Dear Reader – should you blog? Some would say no; there genre is already too crowded with inane chatter and poor writing.
To that I say, so what? Every blogging experience is both deeply personal and unique. It’s a form of expression like any other media. It can be good, as well as bad. I think if you have a need to find your voice, to express your opinions and interests, to tap into your creativity in a relatively safe setting, then blogging is one of the ways to do it. Of course some unwanted commenters may find their way to you but the joy of it is you have total control over your blog; you can moderate, including and excluding as you see fit. You have license to speak and do whatever you want within legal reason; it’s your space.
That’s not to say that blogging doesn’t have its downside. As I said at the beginning of this series, blogging is much harder than it looks. It takes determination to start up and keep going. Even if you blog long enough to acquire readers and hits, sometimes you just don’t feel like writing. It’s important to set a schedule of posting daily or every other day or weekly so that readers will return expecting to see a post. Set your mind to it and stick with it.
Also be sure to have a specific purpose in mind. Is it about a crush, an interest, a hobby, a goal? It’s best to keep a focus so that you don’t chatter inanely and eventually peter out, resulting in the blog going defunct. It’s also the best way to keep the interest of your readers and become a good blogger. Do you have to be a talented writer? I would say you need to be grammatically competent in the language of your intended audience and to think logically, but you certainly don’t have to be a Stephen King.
After you decide your purpose, you need to find your own voice and style. Look at other bloggers. While it’s okay to borrow ideas when you’re first starting out, continuing to copy others is a bad idea. Readers want to discover something about *you,* not something rehashed from another blog. Hence it’s important to evolve your own voice. How do you do that? Experiment, mix it up. Does it work? Don’t be afraid to try and discard different ideas. If it feels right and clicks with you, it will do the same with your audience. You will also be able to maintain your voice if you plan your posts ahead, at least a day or two. If the post reads rushed, tired and unoriginal, it is.
Remember you’re writing for yourself. Even if the subject isn’t personal, the insights, experiences and opinions are yours. Is it something you want to explore and share? Then, that is what you need to discuss. You may ask “what about the audience? They have to read it.” Well, does the topic interest you? Is it something you would want to read? Then more likely than not, it will interest your audience. It’s natural to worry, but don’t place too much concern on how many viewers you’re getting when starting out. Once you’ve found your voice and focus, interested readers will come. Really.
Also, take pride in your blog. It’s a representation of you. Make sure it’s aesthetically pleasing with an appealing format. Use pictures and video to break up long text. Keep posts relatively short unless the subject warrants otherwise. Proofread, proofread, proofread even after you’ve published. (I’ve caught more mistakes after going live.) Nothing ruins a good post more than bad grammar, poor spelling and typos. Would you be proud to be given a bound copy of your blog? Then you’re doing a good job.
Of the thousands and thousands of bloggers on the internet, can you be a good blogger, even a great one? It’s hard to say unless you try. Don’t be in awe of your favorite bloggers too much; they had to start somewhere, usually with an goal and the will to write. You may succeed, you might not. But as the saying goes, if you don’t try, you’re guaranteed to fail.
We continue with my series On Blogging. Here are parts 1 and 2. My guest today is Servetus. You know her from her popular analytical blog Me + Richard Armitage. This is how she describes herself:
Servetus: child of G-d, daughter, sibling, aunt, friend. Thinker, believer, reader, writer. After a decade of waiting to exhale, now exhaling. Searching (still!) for a livable life and trying to be less scared about the future. Needs desperately to feel that she is making the world better or at least not any worse. Likes: Richard Armitage, grapefruit, espresso, The Great Gatsby, complicated liturgies, Alsace-Lorraine, looking at the sea from a convenient sea-side terrace, complexity, long naps. Much less enthusiastic about: Michael Fassbender, fried beef liver, Guinness, The Deerslayer, car alarms, Tucson, actually putting her body in the sea, oversimplifications, staying up for more than 36 hours in a row. Over-educated. Under-prepared. Working hard at compassion for others and herself.
J: Hello Servetus. Thanks for joining me.
S: Glad to be here.
J: I think we know why you started blogging: to analyze your fascination with Richard Armitage. Do you think you’re any closer to your stated goal?
Sometimes I do. Sometimes not.
On the “do” side: I’m closer to understanding the specific things in his work that triggered my attention (even if I can’t always bring myself to publish what I’ve realized). I understand better now how my need to analyze things works — what triggers it and why it’s there and where it comes from — as well as the dangers it harbors for me. I think this recognition has developed because just before Armitagemania hit, I experienced a long period of creative death. So I’ve learned a lot through this fascination about how my creative processes work because I’ve been able to observe them revive after a long period of dormancy. I hope this knowledge will help me to help myself, should that ever occur again.
On the “not” side: I’m not any closer to understanding why Richard Armitage (as opposed to another actor) triggered this. I have a hard time accepting that it might have been coincidence. Also, although the writing has been therapeutic and enabling, I am no closer to knowing why the particular nerves he’s touched in me are issues in my life. And the main thing I really still don’t understand is where this unbelievable (and for me atypical) tidal wave of emotion that centers on Richard Armitage comes from. Intense preoccupation with something is part of my personality pattern, and it’s been cultivated by academic research, but intense positive emotion about a preoccupation is not like me and unique in my experience of myself. I have come to accept it, since it’s persisted, unabated, for over a year-and-a-half, but I still think it’s strange and often disturbing. But I’m not done blogging yet, and I’m changing, so that understanding may come eventually as well.
J: How long have you been blogging?
I started in March 2008. I had been reading blogs since 2005, when I became interested in conservative Christian women’s blogging, and I had discovered the world of academic blogs in 2006, but hadn’t contemplated writing anything myself. I didn’t have much time, and I didn’t think I had anything different to say. But in summer 2006, I was granted a two-year research leave, and the break from teaching meant I had more time for myself. Late in 2007 I began having a very specific, troubling problem in my workplace (one of the chain of troubles I refer to periodically in my current blog) and it eventually became unbearable. I had found an academic blog that inspired me a great deal with its unwillingness to look past injustice, and I started to wonder whether thinking about my problem in that way would help me confront it. So I started an academic blog to find people to talk to and to advise me. It was slow going, not least because my writing was so different from and so much less system-conforming than other academic blogs, but it was an anonymous outlet, and I had attracted a small readership of the like-minded and found an outlet for my anger, so it served its purpose.
Unfortunately, in the summer of 2009, a post on that blog was linked to a national higher education publication, and reader numbers went off the charts — going from c. 70 readers per day to more than a thousand overnight. I had been sure up till then that no one on my campus had been reading, but that exposure made it impossible to guarantee continued anonymity. Back then I maintained a much stronger commitment to continuing in academia than I do now, and I’d been writing about a scandal. Not many people knew about it, but if it came out, the shit was clearly going to hit me as well. I made the decision to take the blog private two days later. (Now I think that might have been a mistake. One of the spheres I was trying to protect exploded anyway because someone else revealed the same information I had, two years later.) Anyway, I tried to restart a public blog again a few weeks after going private, but the joy had gone out of it, and my postings dwindled in number and length. I wrote the last post on that successor blog in May 2010 — about three months after I had started “me + richard armitage” — and made it private in September 2010. I haven’t deleted those texts as they record my life, but I doubt they’ll ever see the light of day again.
J: Why do you choose to write about anything on any particular day?
S: My goal for the blog is to post at least once a day. I try to present a variety of stuff during a week so it’s not the same sort of thing over and over again. Other than that, the choice is usually entirely random. Sometimes there’s news to report or comment on, sometimes something in my own life is pressing that I need to talk about; sometimes a post turns out the way it does because I have a lot of time — or no time; sometimes, if I sit down to write and nothing occurs immediately to say, I look through my long list of things I’ve wanted to write about from time to time and pick one; and so on. Sometimes I want to write about something but don’t have time to cut the necessary video. I frequently write things that never see the light of day — what makes it into view is probably about a third of the wordage that gets drafted. I decided when I started this blog that a basic rule was going to be that I would never write here out of obligation, as that issue had dogged other writing experiences I’ve had to their detriment. (That doesn’t mean I feel no obligation about the blog, but that’s a different matter.) As a consequence I allow myself to do what I want.
J: Why do I link to some stuff and not to other stuff?
S: It’s also almost entirely random. If I don’t see something, obviously I don’t link to it. I link to stuff I read and like, but not to everything I read and like. I probably read more stuff that gets pushed to me in email than stuff I have to seek out — which means I’m slightly more likely to link to a wordpress blog than a blogger blog, for example. I don’t link to many fanvids because I don’t watch all that many, so if I do link to a vid it’s probably because I’ve watched it at least ten or fifteen times. Then again, if I don’t link to a vid, it doesn’t mean I didn’t like it, either. If I link to a fic it’s because there’s something I liked about it, but if I don’t link to a fic it doesn’t mean that I disliked it, either. Sometimes I really like something but I can’t figure out how to write about it. So I guess what I’m saying is that no one should make any assumptions based on what I link or don’t link, or feel badly if I don’t link to them, and above all, no one should assume that I’ve seen or viewed everything and that what appears here in links involves my judgment about the best of Armitageworld. Another rule that I made when starting this blog was that I wasn’t going to attempt to be comprehensive or comment on or link to everything. (That’s another thing that I had to do for work, and since I do that there, I wasn’t going to force myself to do it here).
J: What priority does this blog get in your life?
S: That’s easier to answer. Right now, my intellectual priorities are: (a) anything I have to do for my students; (b) morning pages; (c) Armitage writing of any kind — either this blog, or the therapeutic fic I am writing, or both; (d) academic writing. It’s a little complicated because every now and then (d) has to take priority, but (d) is never possible unless (b) has happened. Sometimes I can do (c) without (b), if (c) involves a direct confrontation with stuff that would normally be put down in (b). Anyway, the consequence of this priority means, for example, that right now I’m unlikely to say much on a Tuesday or Thursday unless it’s done well ahead of time, because on those days I am almost completely occupied with (a). And for anyone worried about the relatively low position of (d) — I’m not on a contract right now that requires academic publications as a condition of either current or continuing employment. So for this year, academic writing is just as inconsequential or consequential to me as any other kind of writing. Ultimately it will be important only if I continue on as a professor, whereas (b) and (c) are important for me to maintain my equilibrium as a human.
NEXT TUESDAY: THE CONCLUSION OF A CUPPA WITH SERVETUS.
Continuing in the series on blogging, joining me today is RAFrenzy. She is well known to you from her snarky, fun, irreverent blog at RAFrenzy.com. When asked to provide a blurb she said, “Phew, what more can you say that I haven’t already?” So, without more ado, here is RAFrenzy.
J: Hello RAFrenzy. Thanks for joining me. This is a casual informal interview. Imagine us at Starbucks having a cuppa. 🙂 R: Just one? 😀
J: Why did you start blogging? R: Obviously, I had something I wanted to say, and I chose this medium so I could say it where I was not emotionally involved with the readers; however, I’m finding that is not the case as I go on. The potentially interactive nature of blogging makes it impossible for someone like me to remain detached from the readers. I love that aspect of blogging, but I also have to stand back from it at times as I know it might affect what I want to say.
J: What is your stated goal in blogging?
R: This blog is an attempt to do two things: understand the madness and revel in it!
J: Do you think you’re any closer to your stated blog goal? R: My stated goal? Yes, I’m much closer and have actually surpassed it in some respects, but my unstated goal is not met.
J: How long have you been blogging?
R: I started a blog in 2008, but I didn’t do much with it. RAFrenzy began in early April, 2010.
J: Why do you choose to write about anything on any particular day? R: It’s a miracle for me to write at all, so I’m trying to become as comfortable with writing my thoughts as I am with speaking them. For so many years I thought I couldn’t write anything that wasn’t strictly technical, but now, most days I write to prove to myself that I can.
J: Why do you link to some stuff and not other stuff? Again if that’s personal or irrelevant, please skip.
R: I usually refrain because of legalities and/or privacy. Legalities are very easy to observe. With respect to privacy, I try to live by the Golden Rule. Although nothing on the scale of Richard Armitage’s life, I have lived in the public eye for years and understand the need to keep something back as it were. Hopefully, when I speculate about him, readers know it’s just that — speculation. I do not know the guy nor will ever know him, but I do share thoughts I’ve had about him, and I doubt I’m going to stop doing that. There have been times when people think I’ve crossed a line with that, but I have not stood in his front yard to get a peek at him nor published pictures which I felt were out of bounds.
J: What priority does this blog have in your life? R: Taken over the course of the last year and a half, I would say it’s had a fairly high priority even if other priorities in my life have eclipsed it at times.
J: For whom are you writing this blog? R: Mostly for myself. I do this with my piano playing as well. I play for my ears first and that seems to produce something pleasing to others. With writing I spent so many years writing for others that it inhibited me in a way that beat any life out of what I was trying to say. Since I’ve been writing more for myself, I think I might actually say something interesting every now and then.
J: If you had to do it all over again, would you blog? R: I keep asking myself why I didn’t do it sooner.
J: Could you have a blog not about any crush? R: I have another blog which was started before RAFrenzy and is decidedly not about a crush — although I do mention him a couple of times. 😀 I’ve also got another blog I hope to start with no plans to mention Richard Armitage at all.
J: What pointers would you give to new bloggers scared to start out? R: Start off anonymously. If you don’t like what you’re doing, you can scrap it and start over without baggage. My first blog wasn’t anonymous, and I wish I had started it with another tone. I’ve had to let it lie fallow for a while so I could in essence start over.
J: Thanks Frenzy for participating. As you can see, these are wildly easy questions. 😀
R: Thanks for asking. 😀
These retrospective are usually done on the one year anniversary date but I don’t have an actual date. Sure, WordPress.com says I created a blog on December 28, 2010 but that was accidental. I made a few half-hearted posts in January and talked mostly about the blizzard in February. I didn’t start formalizing a plan and sharing my thoughts until March.
What was my plan? My goal was to kick-start creativity which has been lying dormant for so long. I didn’t aim to write about Richard Armitage. Being part of a blog ring, I injected him in for fandom flavor as a way of talking about something else; the goal was to stop talking and start blogging about something – anything – to get used to the process of writing again. The Fanstravaganza 2 experience in March was interesting. It was difficult to write about one topic for eight straight days, but at least I had a topic from which to draw. After the event concluded, the process became downright grueling even without breaks caused by Winston.
For months I privately agonized over the slow going in conceiving, composing and polishing a post. It was a constant state of blogger’s block except the hurdle wasn’t that high; I just needed to get my leg up and over it. This continued through the spring and summer, and then a funny thing happened. While blogging the London travelogue, words came faster and poured more smoothly. In an effort to be entertaining, I found that the longer the post, the more creative room I had. That’s not to say the events aren’t true, they are; it’s that I was able to incorporate inventive ideas into the story such as Winston and the competing psyche elements, Jodi, Jada, and Quiet One in order to help the reader understand how important the trip was on different levels. The story elicited positive feedback which fed the process.
Oh, the positive feedback caused a problem of its own. Did you know you can develop a compulsion to research blog statistics on what search terms find your site (bad idea!) and the number of views you get a day? Checking for comments to fulfill the proper netiquette of timely replies led to constantly checking for comments and mulling over the reasons for too few or too many. (I eventually restricted myself to checking three time daily and gave up predicting what topic would prove popular. Who knew people would have much to say about fish and chips, beer and mushy peas?)
But wait, there’s more! It didn’t stop there. Out of the blue, I made my first fan video. That same week I bought art supplies in preparation of drawing again. I can’t begin to describe to you Dear Reader how miraculous that it is. It’s like waking and finding myself 20 pounds thinner- well, almost. I’ve never made a fan video and haven’t touched a sketchbook in 20 years. It’s as if the creative sap is rising. Some of it has surfaced in drips and drops. If I could attach a spigot and let it flow freely I would, but things haven’t reached that point yet.
So the blogging experiment has been a success so far. I’m not exactly sure why. Maybe the enforced act of writing, even when I didn’t want to do so got the wheels turning and the brain chugging. Writing comes easier because I’m used to the process now. I haven’t returned to writing fiction (well, complete stories) again but that will come. Things still squeak and sputter but I’ve come far from last December. I owe it to you Dear Reader who has kept up the encouragement through both breaks and feverish posting. I couldn’t have done this without you.
In the next two days I will interview two bloggers well known to almost all of you: RAFrenzy and Servetus. They will discuss their experiences and views on blogging. Stay tuned.
As pointed out in my London saga when Winston loves his Happy Pills, my psyche flourishes. This is a very welcome development. I started blogging in an attempt to jump-start my creativity which has lain dormant since law school. Law school by its nature teaches to think inside the box and by the law; creative legal thinking could very well get your client 20 years to life. Over time, my right-brain hemisphere, the seat of creativity, has been very slowly awakening to the idea of returning to things I loved: writing and drawing. I even darkened the door of an art supply store for the first time ever inspired by Zelda’s wonderful artist blog. Schools supplied my earlier tools, so this was a novel experience for me just to buy pencils, charcoal, knead-able erasers and sketch books. I felt a sense of accomplishment walking out with my supplies.
So armed with writing and drawing tools I’m getting right to it, right? Wrong!
Instead I entered the addictive world of video making! For those of you who miss the daily chat room discussions (usually 8:00PM onwards CDT), the topic of video making arose. Video maven BccMee explained the programs she used to make her great videos. She pointed out Windows Live Movie Maker 2011 bundled with Windows 7. (It also is downloadable for Vista). Now, I’ve never paid any attention to this program for some strange reason, I felt compelled to try it. I had gigabytes of video taking up space in my iPhone that needed to seen by somebody’s eyes. So I downloaded it all and proceeded to make movies – for hours. Now I understand the addictive quality of making fanvids. This program is so elegant and simple, it’s almost – I repeat almost- idiot proof. It’s fascinating watching the movie coming together piece by piece to create the finished product. Finally I produced my first actually watchable videos. Who woulda thunk it? So for my 100th post, I’ll share them.
My first attempt is July 4th fireworks filmed live with an iPhone 4 in HD. YouTube blocked it so I had to audio swap (which you can watch) but the original is now on Vimeo. There’s also a short slideshow tribute to my dog Lance if you wish to view.
I filmed the next videos at one of the most interesting places I’ve ever seen, the Bicycle Museum of America in New Bremen, Ohio. I visited this summer with Trinalin who does the honor of correcting my lousy vision. These videos are entertaining and informative especially if you remember the old days and love bikes. Try to watch close to HD if you can.
So, I know you’re thinking: does this mean you’re making fanvids? I don’t know, the idea is tempting. However considering the quality of some of the fabulous ones I’ve seen, I will certainly take my time with the music and compilation. The bar is so high in this area.
So what do you think about fan vidding? Any tips, stories, recommendations? Feel free to share!
WordPress just announced I hit 1,000 comments on my blog. But it seems an anniversary has come and gone because total hits now number 11,173! The On Meeting Another Other Fan post about meeting Servetus and my musings on racism took the honors with the most hits, followed by the completely silly but popular Infamous Beard post. The Fanstravaganza 2 posts in March about Guy of Gisborne continue to get views.
Thank you for taking the time to come back and reading my ramblings. Although I’m not as regular as hoped, you seem to be there when I get back, and for that I’m grateful. I’m proud to be part of this fandom; you all are an amazing and interesting bunch and have given much food for thought. Although I originally wanted to discuss writing and fandom, I’ve approached these subjects in a completely different way than intended. I also hadn’t intended to talk so much about that British actor, whatshisname – Armitahge – or something. I’ve got a short list for more discussions (if I can remember where I put it), but if there’s a topic you’d like me tackle, let me know.
Again, thanks so much for reading. Here’s a treat!
Is he posing or not? Works for me either way. Courtesy richardarmitagenet.com
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