Category Archives: Blogging

Fiction Writing Angst

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.

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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.

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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.

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I went to the library! A writer needs to read, right? And FYI,  I’m not planning on writing chick lit. I grabbed that book for the main title. Make what you will of my other literary choices. 

Reflecting on a Remarkable Year

Remarkable. That is the word I would use to describe my 2018.

In 2018, my Dad passed away. My brother in law did as well. My mom’s health declined. Our oldest spawn went through a hellish year with her possibly soon to be ex and we did our best to provide her the support she needed. Our grandson celebrated his 4th birthday here with us in Colorado, and started Pre-K in September.

He gifted us with this original creation, which Hubs and I found in our half-bath upon coming home from driving them to the airport to fly back to Wisconsin after our wonderful visit.

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These nine little rocks shall remain atop this candle for all eternity

 

Our youngest spawn continued on their quest for self-improvement.  Continued using their artistic gifts. Deeply contemplated their spirituality and became more emotionally intelligent and mature. I’m very proud of both our spawn.  As 2018 comes to a close, I am cautiously optimistic about their futures.

In 2018, Hubs and I had lots of company and did a good bit of travel ourselves. We continued to engage in our church life and participated in community activities. In 2018, Colorado began to truly feel like home to us, and not just an extended pit stop on our journey as married empty-nesters.

While Hubs continued to practice regularly on his yukelele, his one and only New Year’s resolution (Yay for Hubs!),  I continued to blog. Some experiences I wrote about on my blog, and some I didn’t (see note above about the spawn). For better or worse.

2018 was my first full calendar year as a blogger. I published 49 posts in that 12 month span of time. During this magic week between Christmas and New Year’s, I’ve had the time and energy to read and contemplate every single one of them. I thought it’d be a worthwhile exercise for me; a way to gather some insight into how things went on the whole for my blog this year. To start plotting my blogging path for 2019, make some decisions about topics I should continue writing about and topics that may not need to be covered going forward.

This blogging thing continues to be a work in progress, just like me.

Below, in no particular order whatsoever, is my subjective reflection on the top 10 published posts on Pollyanna’s Path in 2018. Meaning this isn’t entirely based on the number of likes, views, or comments each post had. It’s also based on 1) if I thought it was brave, 2) if I thought it was cohesive, and 3) if it revealed my heart.

This post was me essentially whining about my struggles as a blogger. Surprisingly, it got the most likes of all the posts I penned in 2018. I think perhaps I struck a chord with my fellow bloggers with this one. I also made mention of the new Facebook blogger’s group I had just joined and got gutsy and asked for comments, for which I was (gratefully) rewarded. I think the take-away here is that I need to do a better job of compelling readers to comment in 2019. I am open to suggestions on how to do that, fellow bloggers!

I think that this wacky post was the one I enjoyed writing the very most this year. I had such an interesting experience that day at the “Metaphysical Fair” and I wanted to take a shot at telling a true-to-life humorous story. And now that I’ve reviewed this post, I know that in 2019 I simply must have a session with a medium (not necessarily involving Tarot cards this time).

My most emotionally vulnerable post this year was written by my heart. I was so raw and struggling to make sense of my feelings and what our family had just gone through as I wrote that. However, the process of sharing tidbits about my Dad, the things that made him who he was to me, was cathartic.

Once in a while, because I am truly a “foodie”, I am compelled to share a recipe along with personal anecdotes about my relationship with the food I love, as I did here. Going into this process of evaluating my posts from 2018, I thought it likely that one of the topics I would cease to write about on this blog going forward into the new year, would be food. However, I have changed my mind. Cooking, eating, and sharing recipes is part of who I am in my real life, and having a platform to write about all things food (when the mood strikes of course) is just too hard to say no to.

A few times in 2018  I got brave, like I did here. I have yet to see this movie, truth be told. Now that it’s available on Netflix (or is it Amazon Prime?), I will surely see it before long. I like the creativity of this post but more importantly, I like that it was both a bit ballsy and 100% honest.

Speaking of being honest, I did not follow through on any of the activities mentioned in this post. I am such a slacker. Nevertheless, it garnered a decent amount of likes and it felt good (not in a comfy way by any stretch, mind you) to actually for the first time, make mention of fictional characters I intend to write about some day  in 2019. I’m crossing my fingers that this blogging community will hold me accountable on this one!

My sweet, loving, hard-working, honest-to-the-core, and greatly missed Dad inspired this post. My intention when publishing this one was to inspire my readers to quit being so darn hard on themselves. And this funky retro sign with this simple but so important sentiment hangs on the wall in our office, right underneath my vision board (note to self: update this thing in 2019).

This post is one of my personal favorites. I was thrilled when I realized that it actually was well-received enough that another blogger included it in one of their posts! That is something I get a kick out of with this blogging thing-putting out a message, in a humorous way, that encourages people to do something positive! Like donating good, non-or-not-too-expired-and certainly unopened food to those in need.

I don’t think I realized until now, as I’m winding down my “Top 10” blog posts for 2018, just how much my Dad meant to me, how much he inspired me. This post is another tribute to him, and one of the favorite posts I have ever penned.

It’s  important to me as a blogger, and an almost 52 year old woman, to have a good attitude about aging. To be real about it and embrace it. To not let your age put limits on life’s pursuits, whether it be re: your career, your hobbies, your sex life, the way you dress, whatever it is. That’s why I wrote this post about the women I know who inspire me on the daily.

My personal hope for 2019 is that I will grow my blog, make new blogging friends, and surprise myself (and the world?!) with my ability to tell a good story.

Happy New Year, blogging community!

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My Favorite Week of the Year

This week, the one sandwiched between Christmas and New Year’s, happens to be my favorite week of the year.

Why, you ask? Because the Christmas season always gives me long lasting warm fuzzies. I’ve rested, laughed, played, ate well, got new things to enjoy. I’ve gotten to speak to the people I love the most (by phone or video chat).  There’s no more frenzied planning for another year. NYE is a week away, so that’s something to look forward to, even if Hubs and I have no major plans. Work is more chill too.

Essentially, I’m more relaxed during this particular week. I feel more thoughtful, more grateful for the sweet life Hubs and I have created over the past 30 ish years. My head is in a space where I’m contemplating the future; though with no great sense of urgency. I’m kicked back, fuzzy socked feet upon our coffee table, relishing the present and pondering the future.

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Side note: the pic above reminds me of a a hilarious Christmas post I’m still laughing about. Funniest line: “I told you those would confuse her, Judy”.

This pondering includes what my New Year’s resolutions intentions might be. The intentions I may have for this great blogging adventure I embarked on almost two years ago (I must refrain from over-analyzing the “dud” posts I’ve penned in that time which very well may have kept me from having more followers). The intentions I have for my personal life (staying in better touch with friends and family near and far, the myriad of home improvement projects Hubs and I want to make, travel-both in the U.S. and abroad, and of course, like every other slob out there, losing a good 10 lbs, give or take). The intentions I have in my work life (improve communication, my organizational skills, increase my education on such things as aging and food insecurity in the U.S.). My intentions re: my spiritual journey (how I can better live out my faith and follow Jesus’ examples).

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Note that I am not calling any of the above “resolutions”. That simply puts too much pressure on me. The term is too concrete, too demanding to be part of my inner vernacular. If 2018 has taught me anything, it is that life is gonna do what life is gonna do. Curveballs will occur. Jobs may change, people will die, unexpected setbacks will emerge. That’s the deal, folks. Like it or lump it, as they say.

My primary objective, “intention”, if you will, for this one glorious week, is to reflect. And come out swinging in the new year.

How about you, folks?

*Photo above courtesy of Pexels

How do you do Community?

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Community is the glue that keeps our society together. I’ve been blessed in my life to have been a part of a variety of different communities. These experiences with community have shaped me. They have inspired me. They have taught me so very much. They have most certainly been a source of joy.

Like the community of church folks who came together back in Wisconsin a few years ago to fix up a single mom’s beautiful old house to get it ready to be sold. This was a days long process involving probably 24 of us. We painted. We put up curtains. Some of us did some electrical work and plumbing. While working on these tasks, we also got to know each other better. We ended with a shared experience that benefited not just the single mom and her kids, but all of us.

Like the community of friends, many of whom hadn’t officially met before, who came together to make a home accessible for a friend’s spouse who in her 30’s suffered a stroke while vacationing out of the country and was soon coming out of rehab. We organized closets, we built an accessible ramp, we updated the bathroom and re-arranged the bedroom to accommodate the spouse’s new way of moving through their day to day world.

Like the community at our local brew pub, 3 miles down the road from our townhome here in Colorado. If ever there was a “Cheers”  in real life, this would be that place. The owners and bartenders know our names. The owners regularly schedule events that build community.

And this sign is prominently featured, which I very much appreciate. This one hangs in the ladies’ restroom.

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Then there’s our current church community. Our major fundraiser each year is a lawn mower clinic, held in May. Hubs and I, along with probably 2-3 dozen other church folks came together on three Saturdays this past May to check the oil, change spark plugs, and clean those well used, clunky machines up so they would be in good working condition for their owners when the time came to get back to mowing their lawns again. Each of these Saturdays were nasty, weather-wise. Snow. Rain. Cloudy, cold, and breezy. From my perspective, only experiencing 2 years in Colorado, this weather was a-typical for the time of year. But yet we all bundled up, drank a lot of hot coffee, and got things done as a community.

The Facebook blogging community I’ve recently become a part of is another example of how I like to “do” community in my life. In this group, bloggers often lift each other up. They turn each other on to new ideas, new tricks to improve their writing and their blogs. They  We support each other as best we can. We seem to understand that while we all have our individual blogs, we’re in it (aka the Blogosphere) together. We all want to succeed at what we’re doing and we all love to write. We respect each other. There does not seem to be a sense of “my blog vs. your blog” competitive b.s. going on in this group. We all seem to engage with this group in an effort to build each other, and ourselves at the same time, up. I’m so glad I decided to join this community.

The bottom line, for me, is that being around others, especially with a clear goal in mind, energizes me. It appeals to my social and socially conscious nature. It opens up my world, teaches me things I didn’t know I needed to learn, both about myself and others. It helps me focus on the positive and reminds me that there is good in the world. That the number of good people in our universe far outweighs the number of bad people. It gives me hope.

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Seedlings and Randomness

Recently, I accidentally deleted all of the content in my “Seedlings” draft within my blog. I was innocently reviewing it for the millionth time, in an attempt to mine for some writing gold, and while going crazy with cutting and pasting content into other drafts I started, suddenly it was all gone. Blank as hell.

So now I’m sorta starting at square one. I do have a few little nuggets of the content from my “Seedlings” draft tucked into a few different other drafts, but the vast majority of it is gone. As if it never existed.

This means that I have to take a serious gander at the 15 other blog posts I’ve started and stopped. This is something I am starting to do at this moment in time. We’ll see where it goes.

But for now, let me get a few random things off my chest. A few (which is all I have left) “seedlings”, if you will. Thoughts and feelings that have been rattling about in my brain and in my heart.  Some things I want to expand upon on this blog when I’m feeling gutsy. Or overwhelmed. Or thoughtful and pensive.

  • Observation about myself: Negative people suck me dry. I need to find ways to fill up my soul and creative spirit directly after being immersed in their gloomy muck for more than 2 hours (give or take).
  • I ought to write a post about expressions. Ones I frequently use, ones I hate, and ones I ought to use more. Considering the times and all.
  • Why I almost titled my blog “Dumb Ass 2 Wise Swan”.
  • Sometimes I wonder if other bloggers tell people that they have a blog. I generally don’t. But why?
  • I hope that we can all agree that no one, regardless of political party, gender identity, sexual orientation, weight, economic status, or emoji preferences when texting friends or family should be judged for expressing their opinions or interacting with others in a manner authentic to themselves. With the exception of those who have committed a crime or were intentionally cruel to another human being. Then all bets are off, IMHO.
  • I have a very strong urge to pen a political post. I’ve been suppressing it for some time now. I’m feeling overwhelmed (I’m guessing I am in good company, right?) by the barrage of bad news lately. Overwhelmed by the seemingly never-ending joke of a presidency we are subjected to on the daily. However, I feel like if I did go hog-wild with my political opinions, 1) I’d for the most part be preaching to the choir, 2) it would not have a positive impact on the world at large, and 3) my Facebook blogger’s group might kick me out. So, at least for the time being, I will refrain from publishing purely political posts. The one thing I will say, which is of the utmost importance is this: VOTE! Our futures, as well as our children’s and their children’s futures, depend on this one simple thing.
  • In keeping with the random, unexpected, stream-of-consciousness theme I’ve got going here, I am publishing this post today. The day I started it and the day I finished it, instead of sticking with my regular Wednesday morning time slot.  I think I’ve only done that once or twice since I started blogging. So here’s to shaking things up a little!
I would love, love, love, to hear your random commentary today (or any day for that matter). What is it that you want to write about, but haven’t yet?

Quantity over Quality or vice versa?

I recently read a blog post, written by one of my most favorite bloggers, that turned my approach to writing on it’s head. For the longest time, I’ve been tied to the notion that I needed to focus on quality over quantity with my blogging. This has led to many hours of starting and stopping blog posts, editing and re-editing, and not a small amount of anxiety. Because in my mind, it will be the “high quality” (according to me, and why am I only considering my opinion anyway? Good question) blog posts that will launch my writing into infamy.

Thankfully, CJ set me straight. She explained so clearly in her post how writing more, producing actual crap, and then writing even more leads to improvement as a writer. Quantity begets quality, if you will.

The lesson of the students in the ceramics class being split into two, with one group being tasked to produce one “perfect” pot and the other group tasked to produce as many pots as they possibly could within a set time frame was spot on. When I began reading this post, I made the assumption (you know, making an “ass” out of “you and me”) that the group that was tasked with making the “perfect” pots were going to “win” in the end. Because they were going to be taking their time. Visualizing what the end result was going to look like. Focusing their creativity on one simple “perfect” thing.

I was so wrong.

Of course, the students that made multiple pots were the winners in this scenario. They learned from their mistakes as they created pot after pot.  They no doubt tried different techniques and let their creativity flow, being untethered to the idea of creating just one perfect pot. And I’m sure they had way more fun than the other group.

That’s what I’m starting to do with my blogging. I think it could also be referred to as “Spitballing”, a term of which I am especially fond. As in, writing like a madwoman on random topics or just random thoughts about random things and putting them out there on my blog (or not). Seeing what sticks. Being okay with those posts that end up not sticking.

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Onto the next topic, which is slightly related. But maybe not. 

There are cases, of course, where quality should trump quantity. For instance, my t.v. watching habits. Because while I enjoy getting all comfy at night and gorging on the boob tube, my time is precious. I don’t necessarily need to thoroughly analyze each and every television show I enjoy and weigh their merits, but I think it behooves me to be a little thoughtful about it.

I figure I’ve got roughly 14 hours per week (is that high or low? I have no way to judge this) of time to watch television. There are several shows I enjoy watching. Some with Hubs. Some all by my lonesome. This 14 hours per week is not counting the approximate 1.5 hours daily of news/political programming Hubs and I always watch together (local news, MSNBC, and of course Full Frontal with Samantha Bee).

Perhaps I am watching too much t.v.

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My couch potato inspiration, Liz Lemon

Anyhoo, here’s my list of quality television, according to me-don’t judge, that I will resume watching this fall:

  • Grey’s Anatomy
  • 9-1-1
  • The Orville
  • The Good Place
  • Shameless
  • This is Life with Lisa Ling
  • Dancing with the Stars
  • This is Us
  • SNL

So there is some room there for new programming. Approximately 4 hours per week  (perhaps more if I skip to the end on that second, mostly unnecessary second episode of DWTS, to learn who’s dancing abilities sucked enough that they are booted from the show) left. This is where my radar for quality television needs to be employed. I’ve been semi paying attention to the new crop of shows coming out this season, and so far the only one I’m certain to check out is “Murphy Brown”. I watched that back in the day and always found it smart, funny, and entertaining. The re-boot of this show is featuring the same four actors playing the same four characters but in current times, aka “The Trump Era”, which particularly piques my interest.

The only other show I can fathom adding to my list, based on my personal standards of quality  is “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”. I watched the first episode when it initially came out and really enjoyed it. I suppose the only reason why I haven’t picked it up again is because it was too “chick flick-y” for Hubs. So clearly this is one to watch all by myself, on those odd days when I’m home alone or the nights when Hubs goes to bed extra early.

Time will tell if there will be other shows I check out.

Tell me, fellow bloggers, what is your take on “quantity vs. quality” or vice versa, in relation to writing and/or t.v. watching? This curious mind wants to know 🙂

Writing Neurosis

True confession: I have been beating myself up for the past week because I didn’t publish a post per my usual schedule, on Wednesday.

Let me go through the reasons why excuses why this post did not materialize.

  1. I had 13 different blog post drafts that I had started in the past, say 3 months or so, and while I made some progress on a few of them since the last post I published, I wasn’t gung-ho about publishing any of them. AKA, I was feeling indecisive. Not an unfamiliar feeling for me.
  2. Life interrupted my trains of thought. Hearing news about my mom’s declining health and the subsequent worrying that has followed (magnified by feelings of guilt for not living closer to her).  Lending an ear to others in my life who are struggling through some major changes. Having a busier-than-usual social calendar.
  3. It was our youngest spawn’s 25th birthday and it didn’t feel right to focus on myself that day (that damn mother’s guilt).

I’m guessing that there are other bloggers who can relate, right?

One story I tell myself when I fail to publish on Wednesdays is that in the scheme of things, it doesn’t matter. I likely don’t have any followers that will be crying into their coffee or adult beverage of choice because they didn’t see a post from me that day. They aren’t going to send out a search party or anything because I’m temporarily MIA. I will check my site and see that I still have 92 followers after it’s been 2 weeks since my last post. My world and the blogoshpere will keep spinning.

What a cop-out, right?

Now, while this story I sometimes tell myself is more fact than fiction, where on earth does it get me? Nowhere, that’s where. It puts me in a place, at least in my mind, of self-pity. Poor, poor, pitiful me-right?

What needs to happen here is I need to get off my self-imposed pity train and make writing a bigger priority in my life. Maybe instead of checking off my “to do” lists on Tuesday mornings (which is my most perfect time of the whole entire week to actually put my thoughts and feelings into words on this blog of mine), leaving me mere minutes for any writing before I have to call an Uber and get my ass to work (aka self-sabotage), I ought to do my writing first. Like I am today. That’s a start.

Maybe instead of publishing posts about my wishful thinking (btw, we still haven’t adopted a dog), I should spend my time and energy on improving my writing and my blog; search for new ways to express and improve myself in the blogging realm.

I recently read a great post by a favorite blogger of mine. She shared some great advice about blogging, some of which I am already doing, a portion of that I could be doing even better, and one particularly special nugget that I know I must act on: joining a blogger’s group online. Not that I haven’t already done this; it’s just that I’m not entirely certain the one I joined months ago is my bag. She suggested two of them. So I put in a request on Facebook to join one of them. They accepted my request yesterday. Yay!

I’ve got a truth bomb: I really really really really really really want to see more comments on my blog. I get why readers often don’t comment on other blogger’s posts: it is simply easier to click the like button instead. I mean, our time is valuable, right? We’ve got other blog posts we want to read, our own blog posts to write, and lives to live. However, to me, comments are golden. They make me feel heard, understood, appreciated. Isn’t that the main reason we are all here, blogging into the ether? It’s about community, camaraderie, and improving as writers and as people.

How about we make a pact? I will commit to more frequently commenting on your blog posts if you will commit to more frequently comment on my blog posts. I know that’s pretty forward of me, but I feel we will all benefit.

Now that my neurotic diatribe about blogging/writing is over, I have one question for my fellow bloggers:

Do we have a deal?