Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Signs of Life From a Closeted Blogger

I’ve been yearning for my own blog. The entire idea of blogging or on-line journaling is becoming irresistible. My feelings about it are approaching those I have when I rush out on a weekend after a 60 hour work week to spend a clandestine hour at Border’s perusing periodicals, meandering through elaborate wedding books (Vera Wang’s is so beautiful) and checking out new paperbacks – I found Pamela Ribon’s “Why Girls Are Weird,” a novel about a young woman in Austin who blogs – I bought it. No resistance there.

Writing is becoming easier and easier and it was never hard. I spend time at my job writing – newsletters, proposals, sales letters, thank you very much letters. A definite rhythm develops. The words flow like dance steps, without effort, one phrase leading to another. Then there is the pleasure of editing. Rereading generates different words, better words that come straight from that unconscious universal soup reservoir. The final edit is almost a game, tightening each paragraph with a read-through that focuses on words to be eliminated or exchanged for words shorter and pithier. There is sport in compressing a sentence by removing enough words to delete one line. Have I said it better with less – I stand corrected – FEWER words? (Check out your grammar books folks. If you can count the things you speak/write about – use the word ‘fewer’. If you cannot put a number on the subject – use the word ‘less’. I am so aggrieved that even the NYT no longer follows a rule of grammar that, for me, defines a real distinction.

What a blog digression. My days of grammar lessons go back to the 1950s. I am remembering childhood and adolescence as a time when I wrote plays and novels and won prizes for my essays. I thought I was going to be a writer when I grew up but never figured out how I was to make a living at it.

Much of the time, I actually think in expository essay form. That in itself is a worthy notion on which to write more. I remember a road trip from Atlanta to Houston in 1995. I was by myself – very happily by myself – stopping where I wanted, seeing what interested me, sleeping late and driving late. I had no car radio, just the hum of the highway and the expectation of discovery. That was heaven to me and driving time became the space for assigning words to thoughts and running words into sentences that came together as essays quickly lost. No notes scribbled as I drove, but I knew that I’d written pages on that trip without benefit of pencil or keyboard. began as Purse Stories, an installation of handbags and photo collages with hand written sentences and a few paragraphs on the wall. As intended, the website draws stories from far-flung people, newly posted every week. But just as often the purse stories one the site are those that I’ve heard and transcribed or are stories I pull from my day-to-day life (See “My First E-Bay Purse Purchase” and “Every Purse Should Be This Practical”). What began as visual art is becoming oral history, story sharing. led me to the Creative Capital Professional Development for Visual Artists Workshop hosted by DiverseWorks. That did it – somehow I took the potential for blogging from that weekend experience. I never remember talking specifically about blogging at the workshop. What I remember was being called an artist for three whole days, hearing the precise steps I can take to transition into living and supporting an artist’s life and meeting other artists on common respectful ground. That weekend broke the creative egg.

That hidden secret world of writing rolled out like a marble. Are we mixing too many metaphors here?

I was onward toward blogging. In quiet moments in bed in the morning and late at night, paragraphs jumble in my mind. A friend counseled the need for a hand held recorder.

My youngest daughter tells me “A blog is perfect for you, Mom. You want to tell people all kinds of stuff. I don’t, but you do. It is perfect for you.” And as she says it I feel the longing, the irresistible urge like a wave covering me in words and paragraphs and simile and narrative and memory and space and, I am sure, a life long lack of grammatically parallel sentences. But that is another blog entry.

When does it begin? I am ready.

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