Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Bulleted Approach

Today I'm taking Ms. Make Tea's random bullet approach, which has been popularized by others throughout blog land. Each bullet point has a question attached to it. Feel free to answer any you feel so moved to answer.

  • You may have noticed no music Monday yesterday. That's because the morning flew by (not quite sure why), and I was busy yesterday afternoon entertaining Zoe's Mom, Zoe's Dad, and Zoe (who, by the way, Bob found out is a human kid, not a goat kid). We took them to the little town of Intercourse, where we usually take our guests, and they got to see the now infamous $4200 chair that the Musings saw when they visited in February. Then we went out for Thai food, where Zoe amused us with her incredible magic tricks that I was way too stupid to understand (she can make her arm disappear, and she can turn an ordinary "chopstick," one that bears a strange resemblance to a satay skewer, into a straw and a chopstick). Afterwards, I went to the knitting group, which tells you that, yes, I am still struggling with knitting. Whether or not I will ever finish this shawl is a question that remains to be answered. (Question: do you still enjoy Music Monday, or is it getting old at this point? I love it and could do it forever, but I'm wondering if I ought not to abandon it.)
  • This week is blogger visitation week. Tomorrow, Mandarine, Ms. Mandarine, and Baby Mandarine arrive. I'm looking forward to greeting a family of orange cats when they step off the train in Lancaster. They've just spent a few days in Manhattan (where they were lucky dogs as opposed to orange cats) and will be with us until Friday. (Question: it seems there have been some hints about another blogger meetup in NYC in 2009 like we had in 2008. Anyone interested? When might be a good time?)
  • For those of you who are curious about what I've been doing job-wise, the answer is absolutely nothing. That's not really true. Bob and I have been doing an awful lot of talking, and I have lots of ideas, but I really want whatever I decide to do next to be something about which I feel very passionate. That might be sticking with the publishing industry (I actually see all the changes in publishing right now, like ebooks and other forms of electronic publishing, not as doom and gloom changes, the way some do, but rather as exciting changes and ways to open doors for more creativity and more opportunities for writers), but it could be doing something with math and math education. I'm also interested in working with youth, possibly doing something that has to do with health and nutrition, given the horrible childhood and teenage obesity problems in this country. There's a new program in Lancaster, and I might be able to get my foot in the door there. But then, there's just making a real go of writing. Most of the people I know in real life are encouraging me just to write. (Question: if you've been following this blog for a while, you know me pretty well. If you were I, what would you do?)
  • Speaking of writing. I've been doing it a lot. I'm writing 2-4 hours every day now, and have begun to feel I could probably do so 5-7 hours a day. I've been working on the first book in a series of novels that could continue endlessly (I've already begun to take notes and have written a few things for the second book in the series). The book is writing itself and refuses to follow the carefully crafted outline I had for it (oh well). I've also been working on new ghost stories, while re-writing old ones. My hope is to have a collection of 12 finished stories by the end of the year. If I keep up as I am, I am pretty sure I will achieve that goal. My problem with ghost stories is that I see whole books of stories developing around specific themes and can't decide if I should do them thematically or just put together a collection of random stories (e.g. I have written a few stories whose ghosts are based on people I know in real life, which is great fun -- don't worry. If I know you in real life, I will ask before turning you into a ghost. I've also written stories that are derivative of some classic ghost stories, like "Hill House Revisited"). I really do seem to have endless ideas for material to write. If I bemoan the fact that I'll never get to read all the books I want to read in a lifetime, I'm also beginning to bemoan the fact I'll never get to write all I want to write in a lifetime. (Question: should I put my ghost stories together thematically or randomly?)
  • One of my more blunt friends of those who are encouraging me to write recently told me to quit wasting my time blogging and emailing. I fired back that blogging is not a waste of time, that blogging is the oil that greases the wheel. I really do feel this way. I have always felt the need to write, but somehow, having a blog has been what's truly kept me disciplined. When Bob and I were recently at the doctor's office, we read a Time magazine from February that had interesting articles about the future of newspapers, magazines, and books. One of them noted that people ought to pay to read blogs, because bloggers are providing a real service with "local reporting." I extrapolated this to "reviews" and "opinion," which we bloggers also provide. At first I thought, "Cool. Yeah. I'd like to get paid." But then I thought, "No. Too much pressure. Then I'd feel that every single blog post had to be worth someone's dime." I know perfectly well that not all of my posts are worth much to others, but they are all priceless for me, because they keep me practicing and experimenting. (Question: Do you feel blogging helps or hurts your other writing?)
  • Finally, with the exception of The Faerie Queene challenge (which I probably won't finish by June but will finish by the end of the year), I have decided to drop all book reading challenges this year. Mostly, that means my own, self-created challenges, but it also means Eva's World Citizen Challenge, which I really did want to complete. I realized when I almost signed on for the King Arthur challenge how stupid it is for me to keep up the pretense that I am ever going to read all these books. I belong to two book discussion groups, and I am reading The Faerie Queene this year. That is enough, when it comes to challenging myself to read books I might not read on my own. I need a more fluid approach to reading. I don't want to keep finding myself thinking, "I've got to read at least three more challenge books before I read that Marian Keyes." Reading should be fun. That's why I'm no longer in school. This decision is making me feel both extremely free and extremely guilty. (Question: do you feel free or guilty when you abandon a challenge?)
Phew! Those are some long bullet points and a lot of questions. But I'm done now.


Danny said...

I have to admit that I find your friend's comment that blogging is a waste of time a bit infuriating. The implication is that because we're not being paid for it, it's of lesser value. I submit that there are unfortunately MANY things some of us do for money that ARE a true waste of time. But, of course, if the conversation is about whether you can make a living from blogging, then that's a different issue. I like your description of blogging being the "oil that greases the wheel," I couldn't agree more. Blogging is working a muscle, blogging is being able to share with the world things that WE think are of value, without having to deal with the stifling screen of bureaucratic publishing folks (with all due respect to publishing folks like us!), blogging is expression in one of its truest forms, blogging is uncensored creativity, blogging is community-building, and so on. I think all forms of writing and expression have great value. I share your reluctance to turn your blog into a moneymaking venture but I think we'd both like to think of our blog as a possible avenue for income. I have gotten freelance writing gigs because of my blog and that's good enough for me. I'd love to think of ways to make money online, but I do love the freedom that blogging provides when we're NOT being paid for it!

Eva said...

I think you should concentrate on writing full time, at least for awhile. :) I'm not a writer except for blogging, so I can't really answer whether blogging helps or hurts! ;)

nigel patela said...

I'm all for the lyrical series.

Random ghosts.

Helps other writing. And sanity in general.

Amanda said...

Well, since you asked [rubs hand with officious advice giving glee]...

>If you were I, what would you do?

I wouldn't be a writer full time. For me it would be too lonely and crazy making. If it were me, I'd look for a part time day job as well- nothing too challenging but something where there is a routine and contact with the world and some regular income too though this may not be a priority for you.

Or alternately decide to go hard as writer for a set period- six months or a year and plan to re-evaluate at the end of that period. You'll probably know by then whether it's something you want to continue with & perhaps if you don't give it a shot, you'll always wonder.

>Does blogging help or hurt?

I think it depends at what stage I'm at with writing (as an academic rather than fiction writer or journalist so this may not be comparable). When I was writing my PhD I found blogging about some of my ideas in progress helped to overcome procrastination. I have to confess also that sometimes the random bullet point thing I do on my blog is actually me doing a form of free writing warm up when I'm trying to get going on work related writing. But, to be honest, when I'm doing the hard yards of trying to actually get something polished and finished which requires tooth gritting persistence rather than inspiration blogging can just be a huge time suck and way of procrastinating

Good luck with your decision making!

Stefanie said...

Um, let's see. If you have the opportunity to write and are n ot pinched to have to have a second income right away, then I say go for the writing. That's really what you want to do anyway, right?

I like my ghost stories random.

Blogging helps my other writing, whatever that other writing is since I don't consider myself a writer, but I do have a published essay because of my blog and I have been asked to submit an essay someplace else recently because of my blog so I guess that's something.

As for challenges, I have sworn off almost all challenges this year and it feels quite freeing.

Rebecca H. said...

I'm definitely up for another blogger meet-up! The last one was so much fun. All your writing projects sound great! I say if you can manage to keep doing the writing, and you're enjoying it and finding yourself productive -- why not give it a go?

litlove said...

I would never have swapped into more freelance writing if it hadn't been for blogging, and I still use my blog to test out all sorts of ideas. I do think you should take advantage of your time to write more, but like Ms Make Tea, I think you should supplement it with some other work that involves people. You're good with them, the variety is helpful and people give you lots of ideas and content to nourish your writing.

And I agree with Stefanie - there's no need to feel guilt about challenges - books want to be read for pleasure, not duty. Or at least, that's what the little voices tell me! :)

Susan said...

You obviously have a passion about music that others share, so keep up Music Mondays as long as you like - and for those of us whose music is hit or miss, you give me great tips on music I've forgotten or overlooked! lol

I'm not there or I'd gladly join in the blogger meet-up, I hope another one happens while Mr and Mrs Mandarine are there.

If I were you, I'd write, write as much as I comfortably can, and apply for any jobs that I hear about that sound interesting and fun. If you have to go back to work, then this could be treated as a well-deserved break until you are ready to go, and when you are ready, the right job will come along.

Write, darn it!! I want to read those ghost stories! And blogging only interferes if I blog in place of writing... since I am currently doing everything but writing, I have to admit that I'm not the best to ask advice of. The only good thing about this lay-off for me is that suddenly I have an idea, that is wiggling at me. That's why I'm saying to you, write as much as you can while you have the time and the ideas - just get it all down. Enjoy it too. Who knows what will happen? And - you can always tell your type A nature that because you are writing, you are 'doing something' and once completed, you will have several things to send out to sell :-D thus you are 'working'

try the ghost stories either way - you'll know once you see them laid out, how you like them.

Sad to hear you won't join me in King Arthur Challenge but I so completely understand!!! It's mostly because I'm determined to read 100 books this year that I figure a few challenges will help me get to there - mostly directing my attention - I could read 50 mysteries, but I am trying to widen my horizons too! If I get Possession completed this time, this will be a major achievement all on its own, almost the same as Faerie Queene :-D And reading should be fun! I do feel guilty if I abandon a challenge, even though it's just all in good fun. I hate quitting, I hate losing!!
Hmm, I seem to have answered ALL of your questions......

ZoesMom said...

Here's my two cents...

Yes, please continue Music Mondays.

I am definitely in for another blogger meet up. I'm around all spring and summer except for a week in August.

If you can do it, I say try writing full time. Go for it. But maybe give yourself some type of loose timetable. I have a cousin who did that. And it worked for him. He didn't become a wildly successful writer, but it let him put writing in its place in his life. He doesn't feel like it is the thing he could be doing if he had the time.

I think random for the Ghost Stories.

I think writing begets writing so blog on. Plus, selfishly, I really don't want you to stop blogging so it is probably not fair for me to answer, but I did anyway.

Yes, I feel guilty. That's why I sign on for so few challenges.

ZoesMom said...

By the way, Zoe was only disappointed that she left her deck of cards at the hotel. She had some amazing card tricks to show you too! Thanks to you and Bob for indulging her. We had a great visit!

Emily Barton said...

So, I responded to everyone individually at some point (at least I thought I did), but somehow, that response seems to have gone missing. I can't possibly replicate it, so just know that I'm generally taking everyone's advice to write and am continuing with Music Monday. (Oh, and I'm crossing my fingers that at least THIS response posts.)