Let’s face it: As bloggers and readers, right in this moment, we cannot exactly avoid writing or reading about the Covid-19 pandemic.
It has invaded all of our moments to some degree. Whether waking and/or sleeping. It’s getting all nestled into our psyches.
But we can control how we think of it. How we respond to it. Just like anything else (not like there is anything else to quite compare it to). We can control the amount of time and mental energy we spend on it. But we can’t (though I’d be lying if I didn’t say there’s a part of me that just wants to stay in bed and wait for it to blow over) completely avoid this new reality.
Call me Captain Obvious if you must.
Now, my thoughts and feelings, and I imagine yours too, are subject to change on this matter. Because we are receiving new information on the pandemic faster than we can process it. This is messing with our heads.
We can go from looking at it as a circumstance that is bringing out the ugliness in people to looking at it as an opportunity for self improvement and noticing the good it brings out in others. I choose option #2.
We can go from focusing on our concerns for the well being of the loved ones who live far from us to the ones who are physically with us in the here and now. I, for one, intend to hug the two other humans and at least one of the furry beings I share my home with as often as I can. Once of course we have shed our outside clothes for our inside clothes (am I the only one who is intentionally shopping online for active wear lounge worthy attire right now?) and properly sanitized ourselves.
We can go from feeling sad about the length of time it may be before we can leave our homes and spend time in those public places we are missing so much to feeling enthusiastic about having more time at home to contemplate life and engage in activities that feed our spirits. Or starting to plan, say travel in the mid-summer that is more likely to occur than not, as I will be doing?
I think it’s of utmost importance for all of us to remember that we are all experiencing this together; collectively. Just from different perches.
There’s no doubt that it’s harder for some of us than others. It’s easier for some of us than others. We all have our unique obstacles in this time, but this pandemic is affecting all of us at the same time.
What lessons do you suppose we will learn?
I think we will learn what we truly value. Who we truly value.
I think we will learn what we are made of. How tough we are. How tough others are. What our weaknesses are, individually and as a society. What we’re capable of.
Recently I changed my primary work password to “GOODJuJu!!”
And I don’t care that you all know it now. What on earth would you do with it anyway? Break into my office, type it in and read my totally uninteresting emails? Go ahead, knock yourself out.
I think this is the best password I’ve ever come up with. Every time I type it in, I remind myself that my daily goal is to spread light in all my interactions with others. Not like I achieve that goal on the regular. But I try nevertheless.
Since I’ve shared my work password, it makes sense to follow the thread of spilling secrets. Tell you about the stuff that I’ve been doing to gain clarity for myself as an ambitious and creative writer.
Don’t get too excited. It’s all really just baby steps. But I think they still count for something.
First secret: I partook in David Sedaris’ Master Class online for Storytelling and Humor. Truth be told, I signed up for this class because of the “storytelling and humor” part-not so much for David Sedaris. I can’t say that I don’t like him, I do; it’s just that I knew of him but hadn’t read anything he has written. Still haven’t, actually.
Signing up for this class was something I did to help me learn in more detail how I can improve my creative writing. My ability to tell humorous stories that people can relate to and appreciate. It was a purely selfish investment that I decided to make in myself. And I have no regrets.
I had have great interest in interacting with the “community” within this online class. I’ve introduced myself, entered a piece of my writing in a contest even. The prize in this contest is David’s feedback on your piece. I think it’s safe for me to assume that I’m not going to win. And this is not me feeling sorry for myself or me being fake humble. My life is too good and blessed for that shit.
I’m not a great writer. I might be, someday. Or not. Either way, the joy writing gives me will not be overtaken by feelings of self-doubt about my ability to grow my readership on this blog or elsewhere.
I would estimate that it took me 3 hours, within the span of 5 days, to decide which piece I should enter for this contest. That’s how I found “Grammerly”, because in order for my piece to be accepted for consideration, it had to be under 600 words.
“Grammerly” also informed me that my piece was at an 11th to 12th grade level. So clearly, there’s room for improvement.
After doing a bit of editing on the piece I chose, I gave it a couple of days, then went back in to see the one comment made on my piece. It was “I feel like there’s too much information in this piece. I’d like to see it pared down to it’s bare bones”. He was spot on. I veer into the rabbit hole of verbosity in both my speech and my writing.
Whether or not I go back in, make some major edits and re-submit is up in the air. I honestly don’t know if that’s even allowed or appropriate. Or maybe it’s expected?
For now, though, I just want to share what struck me most from being a student of this class. The following is taken directly from the notes I made to myself as I participated in this class and worked through the accompanying workbook.
David’s “work spaces”. Loved the imagery. Made me think that I could write about my ideal work space. Like a “she shed” type deal.
Tuning into your surroundings will open you up to moments that could become stories and the parts of your world that belong in your writing.
“I don’t like to write about people I don’t like”. I concur, David. Neither do I. So I won’t. Period. Hopefully this declaration doesn’t come and bite me in the ass later.
David has a conversation with every person in line at his book signings. He also writes thank you letters. He’s such a nice boy.
Take incidents and stitch them together for a story. I love the creative reference of stitching. Also, following threads. And rabbit holes.
Paint a mental picture in a readers head. Go to readings?? David said he learned a lot from doing this. A lot about what not to do, that is.
Now onto my second secret (or is it my third? That’s subjective, I suppose): During the time I was taking this class, I received an email announcing spring 2020 dates for the Listen to Your Mother shows.
Let me back up for a sec: I first heard about this annual event in 2016 from a local-ish “mommy” blogger named Stephanie. Essentially, LTYM is a franchise that is locally produced in various cities in the U.S. Primarily women get up on a stage and read original pieces on the theme of “Motherhood”. A percentage of the proceeds from ticket sales goes to charity.
I instantly loved this whole concept. The idea of others sharing their personal stories about motherhood, a topic dear to my heart and which I have much to say about, really intrigues me. I knew I wanted to be a part of it, someway, somehow.
So, with David encouraging me to do readings, I started considering applying to be part of the cast. I congratulated myself recently when I realized that I could simply click on the “word cloud” I have featured on my blog’s front page and read all the posts I have written on one particular topic.
But then after reading the few posts I have published that featured “Motherhood” and then proceeded to view video clips of past LTYM speakers, I was overcome with self-doubt. I mean, if this is is all I’ve got to offer and these are examples of my potential “competition” why the hell should I proceed?
Now is the part of this post where you might expect me to say something along the lines of “Nothing ventured, nothing gained” or “What’s the worst that could happen?”. Both of which are 100% true.
However, while I’m not closing the door to auditioning for LTYM, I’m also not necessarily doing it this year. At least not with any of the pieces about motherhood I have published on this blog.
I think it’d be wise to heed David’s advice: attend readings. For me, it’ll be the LTYM show this spring. See what it’s like. Take notes. Make some connections.
I’m feeling experimental with my writing these days. Like I want to see what I can get away with; but not in a naughty way. Not in a way that’s going to get me arrested or shunned in the blogosphere. I just want to put something out there into the universe that surprises some people but resonates with others. #Goals, right?
I’m also feeling some serious writing angst these days. At the same time, I’ve been writing a whole lot. Like every chance I get. While I know this is a good thing, it’s left me feeling anxious. Like a hot mess. Because there’s so much I want to say and I want to put it out there on this blog in just the right way.
The indecision within me about what to finish and publish is really messing with me right now.
The only right thing for me to do, because I’m anal about consistency when it comes to my blog is to just Cut. It. Out. And publish something.
So off I go.
Proof of my anal retentiveness as it relates to this blog of mine: An excerpt from my “planning” draft folder (is this a thing for you too?) from 2018.
Review both current WIPs. Decide quickly if either is worthy of being published on Wednesday morning. Morning, dear. If not, don’t sweat it. It’s the small stuff, as cliche as that sounds. But it’s almost completely true. Then just do your best to use this Chromebook during the vacay. Whenever the moment strikes. And maybe the moment won’t strike. It will by 5/28 though. So at most you’ve skipped one week of posting. Don’t get your undies in a bunch over this. Yes, that did remind me that I need new undies as a matter of fact.
Items to look for while on vacation:
Also, Amanda’s birthday presents.
Now back to the current moment: In keeping with the thread of this loopy post from the indecisive, high strung hot mess that I am right now, I’m going to just copy and paste some of the random thoughts I’ve been expressing in various draft folders of this blog and call it a day. I’m going to re-type a few random thoughts I captured in various draft folders and call it a day (I can at least make the effort to make it look nice, right?).
Maybe that seems lazy to you. Maybe it seems crazy to me. Maybe it’s a combination of both. I dunno. But I’m going to do it nonetheless.
In no particular order whatsoever, I give you Rhonda’s random writing thoughts found within the vaults of my blog:
Notions or Quotes that I’m fond of:
You get what you give.
Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
Necessity is the mother of invention.
This too shall pass.
“The most effective way to do it, is to just do it” Amelia Earhart. That resonates for me writing wise. That’s what I’m doing right now actually, so there.
I’m really curious about something. Well, many things really. But today I’m thinking about how I read or heard somewhere that it takes 7 days (or two weeks or six years?) to form a new habit. It’s actually 66 days. Ughh! Which, from today, is 12/25-Christmas Day!
The new habit I am going to start to form in earnest as of today is writing first thing in the morning. I like to say I do that now, but that’s not true. It’s writing before I check the forecast, read the UCC Daily Devotional, check Facebook. It’ll be an experiment. And just for fun, I think I’ll add in a new habit of writing every night too. Just for a little bit. 15 minutes even. The more I write, the more I have to publish. The more I publish, the more likely it is that I will get the attention I’m looking for.
Current moment commentary: I have stuck to this. That’s why there’s so much content within my draft folders now. And also why I’m so damn indecisive today about what to publish.
One last snippet from my draft folders:
Right now, I am so tired. Need to get ready for bed. Yet need to capture a few thoughts. Random though they may be. K.I.S.S. It’s mostly Keep. It. Specific. Sister. But it can vary. Mantras, phrases, acronyms, names are all very important to me as a writer. Who am I writing for? Who do I actually want to appreciate my writing? To benefit from it in some small but positive way? I want to make an impact. Push someone else forward so they can push another person forward and so on and so forth. Spread good vibes. Good juju. Good karma.
Okay, now I suppose it’s time to conclude this post. Thanks for sticking with me, people (am I being a tad presumptuous? Probably.)
My aim for my next post is to focus on one topic, or one general idea. I promise!
Sometimes I worry that I put things out there, in the blogosphere, prematurely. Things that I want to do, want to write about. I worry that I’m setting myself up for failure. For embarrassment.
If you haven’t yet figured it out yet: here’s the truth. I’m a bit of a spaz. AKA, overly enthusiastic/nervous. Especially when it comes to writing.
Like how I voluntarily shared on my newest blogging group “Kick Ass Creators” (Sorry, Ritu, I’m a tad anal about spelling “creators” with a “K”) that I was going to start writing fiction.
Ever since I did that, I’m in this weird state of feeling overwhelmed, excited, and just flat out scared.
Sometimes I worry that if I start publishing stories on my blog about the fictional characters that have been in my head for years now, someone will steal my idea and make it an even better story than I could possibly imagine. Turn it into the next comedic blockbuster, leaving me frustrated and without recourse. Maybe I ought to trademark this shit? How do I even do that? Is it going to involve a lot of technical skills or legal knowledge that I don’t have? It is going to cost me actual money, which I don’t exactly have much of for extra expenditures, especially given the fact that Hubs is currently furloughed and not being paid?
Sometimes I worry that I will get started on this fictional story of mine, and I will learn that I do not possess the skills needed to write snappy dialogue. Or that I will start the storyline then get totally stuck after a little while and decide that’s it. Or that my characters will come off as cartoonish, annoying, or just unrelatable. Or that I will be made aware of another show, or book, or movie, that is so similar to what is currently in my head that it would be pure folly for me to press on, because my characters, my story, is simply just not that original after all.
I’m such a freaking mess.
Maybe I should just concentrate on writing blog posts. Keep my eyes, ears, and mind open to the fodder that is around me in the day-to-day. Write about that shit.
But then my characters will be stuck inside my head forever. Never to see the light of day. Stuck as perpetually middle aged, empty-nested, marrieds from the midwest for all eternity (as you might surmise, the main characters are loosely based on me and dear Hubs). Nowhere to go. Nothing to do. Just stuck in my head along with my to-do lists, recipes I really need to try one day, worries about my loved ones, and concerns about the fate of the world.
If I write about these characters and their shenanigans, even if it is only in my super top secret draft folder, they will not die the slow death caused by being smothered by all those other thoughts and plans in my head.
And I might have some fun along the way.
On the other hand, when I shared with my blogger’s group that I was going to “try my hand at fiction”, I didn’t exactly say I was going to publish anything. So technically, I could write stories to my heart’s content about my fictional characters and keep them all to myself. That way I’d still be expressing myself creatively and actually writing fiction, so these poor characters are no longer in pause mode, like Sims characters just waiting for direction. I’d be protected from humiliation and I wouldn’t have to live with the fear of being outed as a horrible fiction writer because no one would be reading my stories.
Or I might just keep writing blog posts about writing and publishing and all the anxiety that comes with it for the rest of time.
At this point it’s a bit of a toss up. Either way, my characters will at least be given a bit of a life in my draft folder. Maybe once they start blooming there, I will introduce them to you.
Excuse me, I’ve got some fiction to write.
And some research to do. Some inspiration to acquire. I’m starting to think I might be in this for the long haul.