Friday, January 8, 2016

Taking a Swing

Don't have time to read this? Check it out - I'm a podcast!




The last time I published a blog post was on August 9, 2015. I haven't written since then for a lot of reasons - kids started school, we moved across the country, the holidays, I'm lazy. Anyway, the day I published that post, I was really excited. I felt strongly about what I wrote. I felt like it had meaning and purpose, and unlike a lot of things I put out there in the blogosphere - I felt like it was pretty well written and that I had done a decent job of getting my point across. Then, that afternoon, another blogger accused me of plagiarizing something she had written on a similar topic. It was super irritating. Mostly because I had never even read her blog post (so how was it possible to steal her content??), but also because my post was from a specific event that had happened that I had PERSONALLY witnessed. I'm not going to bore you with the details, but in short I HADN'T ripped off her idea (anyone who knows anything about me would know I'm not that kind of person), and the whole experience kind of gave me an "F this" attitude. If this is what bloggers are like, then I don't want any part of it. Meanwhile, not ALL bloggers are like that. I'm furious at myself for having such a quitter attitude, and I'm more than disappointed in myself that I let someone so insignificant get under my skin.

But I can't blame my lack of writing entirely on that incident. Before that I hadn't written anything since April. Of course, I have a list of things I can blame that on - including lack of inspiration - but, if I'm being honest, I can blame most of it on deciding that I'm just not good enough of a writer. The blog world is tricky. Everyone tells you to do it for yourself, and maybe that's why you start your blog. It WAS why I started mine - as an outlet. We had recently moved to California, I hadn't made a lot of friends, and I was bored. And lonely. I'd be lying if I said a part of me didn't hope that something would come from it. At first it was enough to have my friends comment and tell me how much they enjoyed my words. Then I discovered that there were groups of bloggers out there who considered themselves to be part of a "tribe". Oh, how I wanted to be part of their tribe! I wanted to be in with the populars. I wanted to be invited to sit at the "cool table". I wanted to go "viral". If I could just get the right people's attention. If I could just write something funny enough or moving enough or figure out a way to use the word "eleventeen" in just the right place…then, THEN, I would be one of them. But it never happened. Don't get me wrong - I got a few accolades and fist bumps from some really great people. But, it kind of felt like the time you DID get invited to sit at the cool table because you wore the right designer jeans one day, but the day eventually came that you went to get dressed and discovered that those jeans were in the washing machine. And that day you're back in you're same old non-designer jeans and you wander into the lunch room to find that your seat is taken.

Writing stopped being fun because I was no longer writing for myself. So I stopped writing at all. Because that's how you really go places. By quitting. Sigh.

A couple of days ago I sat in the parking lot of the gym WILLING myself to go inside. I could not think of a place I wanted to be LESS than I wanted to be at the gym. I don't know why. I don't always feel that way. It was just one of those days. But as I sat there staring at the building, trying to think of a good, legitimate excuse to leave, I remembered I had downloaded Elizabeth Gilbert's "Big Magic" on Audible. I told myself that I didn't get to listen unless I took my ass INSIDE the gym, so I eventually got out of my car and went inside. I listened to her for over an hour - and YES, I was exercising that whole time.

The author said so many things that, like many other readers I'm sure, felt like she was speaking directly to me. Telling me to get my head out of my ass and get on with it already. She said that we've (I've) complicated things by making it about someone other than myself. She said we should make things because we LIKE making things. I should write because I LIKE to write. Painters should paint because they LIKE to paint. Bakers should bake because they LIKE to bake. Haters should hate because they like to hate. Ok, she didn't say that. My daughter is 14 and Taylor Swift has taken over my life. Anyway..she said that we should stop looking for permission to create. And that was exactly the push I needed.

Last spring I listened to the Serial podcast. Sidenote: If you haven't listened to it, you should. I was instantly hooked and got all kinds of shit done around my house because I wouldn't let myself listen to it unless I was being productive in some form. But I wasn't only hooked on the story, I loved the idea of a podcast. Doing a podcast sounded like great fun. I mean, there's not much in this world that I like more than talking. Ask my husband. He would like me to shut up occasionally. He doesn't say that in so many words (usually) but I can see it in his eyes (because they're rolling). It probably has something to do with the fact that I like talking to him most right after he's put his headphones on to listen to music or watch youtube videos. It's kind of like a Pavlov's dog reaction. You know, how kids' suddenly… URGENTLY…need Mom the second she picks up the telephone. Put on your headphones? Nope. I just remembered something really important that we need to talk about right now. Guess what I saw on Facebook today.

Anyway, podcasts. Shortly after I finished listening to the Serial, I started listening to audiobooks. Something I had never really gotten into previously because I somehow felt like I was "cheating". Like I wasn't really reading. (For some reason I tend to set a lot of stupid and unnecessary rules for myself that NO ONE on earth will EVER care if I follow.) So here I am, listening to podcasts and audiobooks, all the while thinking, "That would be so cool! Talking about whatever I want, whenever I want, and no one can interrupt me." But there's one little problem. I haven't written a book. And what do I have to talk about? So, like most ideas I have (and I actually have a surprising number of ideas), I let that one fizzle out.

Then I listened to "Big Magic". And I realized the reason that I let things fizzle out is because I'm afraid of failure. I don't think that's anything unique - I assume most people don't start a project thinking, "I hope I really suck at this."

Last week my mom was out shopping and she sent me a picture of a decorative canvas that she thought would be great for my son's bedroom. It said, "You can't get a hit if you don't take a swing." He plays baseball, and this is actually a conversation we've had with him frequently during the season. We would get frustrated with him because he went through a streak where he would just stand there and watch perfect pitches go by. We would ask him why he didn't take any swings, to which his answer would always be, "I'm afraid I'm going to strike out." Ironically enough, he struck out more frequently from NOT taking swings than he did when he actually tried to make contact. My husband would tell him, "It's ALWAYS better to strike out swinging."

Hmmm. It's always better to strike out swinging.

WHAT THE HELL AM I DOING? I am being thrown all these pitches and I'm just standing here with the bat resting on my shoulder. Maybe the pitches aren't perfect, and maybe I won't even make contact. But how will I ever know if I'm not even willing to get in position?

So this is it. I like writing and I like talking so this is me taking a swing. I might strike out, or I might get  a little hit and then get thrown out at first, but hey - at least I'm taking a swing.

*You can also go here to listen.

12 comments:

  1. Your husband is right. It's always better to try.

    I recently had a disheartening experience with social media where someone thought I was calling out their behavior, when actually I was calling out others behavior against her...that's the problem with this medium, your words can easily be misconstrued. But where would we be, as a species be, without it?

    Anyway, if writing (or talking) makes you happy, do it. Despite the obstacles it will make your life complete.

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    1. Social media can be great if we try hard enough. It gets a bad wrap because, like everything, the negative people are always the loudest. I hate that about the universe.

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  2. Thanks for this! I really enjoyed listening to the podcast. Your voice reminded me immediately of Barbara Kingsolver. That's a compliment by the way, I love her and her books. Looking forward to more from you!

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    1. OMG I LOVE BARBARA KINGSOLVER. Though, I admit, I don't know what she sounds like. But, I'll take your word for it and consider it a compliment! Thank you!

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  3. Swing away! I will read anything you write!

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  4. I used to want to belong to the Cool Kids group. I got so far as to actually be Facebook Friends with some of them. And if I initiated a conversation they would respond, but they never sought me out for anything. And it's then that you realize you are not one of the Cool Kids, you are a Cool Kids follower, who support their popularity.
    And then I realized I'm too damned old to still be playing these high school games.
    So swing away, I'm standing at the plate on my own blog, and I've started swinging too. Good Luck!!

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    Replies
    1. High school games are exhausting. Mostly because no one ever wins.
      Good luck right back atcha!

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  5. I have always adored you. Is it possible that I can adore you even more? Apparently it is.

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  6. Swing, batter batter, SWING!!!

    I hate that you feel your designer jeans were only cool for a day; you could shop at the Thrift Store 24/7 and STILL sit at my table. It's important to note, however, that the people at my table are just like me in that they don't own designer jeans because STOOPID.

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    Replies
    1. You have always invited me to sit at your table - and you ARE one of the cool kids - and for that (and too many other reasons to name) I LOVE YOU.

      Delete

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