In Search of My Blog’s Soul

ElectricityI’ve been searching for my blog’s soul that I lost over time.

-Will I find it with my car keys?

-Do blogs have a soul?

Questions, so many questions…

A nugget of curiosity rattles around in your head.

Do you have the answers? You might ask.

Yes, I might reply. I’ll tell you what I know and stop the rattle in your head, but not in your car.

DOES A BLOG HAVE A SOUL?

Yes, it does. You are the soul of your blog, the heart that connects you to your audience. When you inject your soul into your writing, it triggers an emotional response in your readers. Otherwise, they’ll be staring at meaningless words that fall off a page into the abyss.

My words slipped into oblivion when my thoughts wandered outside and hit a tree. “Temporary memory loss,” the focus doctor said.

“Do I know you?”

That was months ago. Yet, I still couldn’t find my soul.

So, I created this flyer.

Though hitting the metaphorical tree hurt a lot and sent my thoughts to the ER for a while, it put me in a self-analytical coma. During which time, I dreamed of what my blog could be and received a room full of metaphorical flowers.

Thank God, I didn’t pull the plug or incur hospital charges. Our insurance deductible is as high as the Washington Monument, where I stood, hypothetically, while my readers mingled on the plaza below.

DON’T PUT DISTANCE BETWEEN YOU AND YOUR READERS

If you stood with me at the top of the Washington Monument, you’d see that the people on the ground look like ants (and might be ants). But never treat them like ants, unless you’re in the habit of inviting ants to a picnic.

Now ride the elevator down to the plaza and look at the people up close and personal — No ants here. Just faces, smiles and hearts — the people you need to reach by staying emotionally in touch.

It took me months to realize that I was writing from a distant place. Rather than communicating with my readers up close and personal, I reached out to them from atop the Washington Monument, putting distance between us, losing the humanity in my writing — the soul of my blog.

Even though I knew where to find my soul, I still couldn’t ID it in the swath of people on the plaza. It looked like a fuzzy blob in the crowd of tourists snapping photos of my hypothetical situation.

While I squinted to see the details on my fuzzy-blob soul, two emails dropped in my inbox, asking for permission to link to older posts on my blog. Since the sites looked legit, I agreed to their proposals.

In the process of adding the links to my posts, I found the humanity and humility that linked me to my readers.

FINDING YOUR SOUL IN OLDER BLOG POSTS

I read the older blog posts that I wrote in 2013 and saw what I had lost over time — my voice and passion, glimmering like spits of waves on a moonlit night — the soul of my blog sparkled in something old, yet new because it was from the heart of me.

You can find your soul, too.

If you’ve been blogging for a while and feel stuck, go back in time and read older blog posts. It will help you reconnect with the voice that sings when you write.

If you’re just starting out, don’t be afraid to write something, anything, even if you feel it isn’t right. You might need time to find your voice. Don’t be discouraged. And never stop writing because of it.

These are the two posts that helped me find my blog’s soul:

Why Is This Dog Smiling?

Feline Cat Robot with Dog Death Ra

How did you find your blog’s soul?

A Blog In Progress

FearI’ve been blogging off and on since 2009, the year I lost my job during the not-so-great recession.

Back then I blogged to purge my thoughts and never thought about finding a niche for my blog. I considered blogging a platform for testing ideas, where I could meet other bloggers and get feedback on my posts.

But over the years as I’ve changed, so have my blogging needs and ergo my focus.

As a writer/blogger/person in progress, I’ve received lots of advice from experts on what I should write or not write about and the topics on which I should focus my blog. I agonized for months to find a focus for my blog, and my writing by association.

With my thoughts caught in a perpetual tug-of-war, my sanity stepped in and forced me to make an executive decision. “Whatcha gonna do girl?”

“I’ll focus my blog on finding my focus,” I said, with indecisive certainty, “which includes a large chunk of everything.”

“A no-no!” yelled the “they sayers” in the blogosphere who advise bloggers to narrow their audience.

Impossible for someone like me with a genre disorder. Someone who vacillates between writing and blogging, nonfiction and fiction, humor, culture, and politics. Oh, my!

Add ADHD to the mix (I’ve got attention deficit disorder.), plus a four-day work week, three days w/o a routine (dangerous for an ADDer), and I’m back in a 2010 time loop, the beginning of my underemployment status, which left me in a creative vacuum.

Lost in an ADD world where time is an anachronism, I’ve never been able to cobble together a major success in my tilted perception. Success means landing a book deal with an agent or just sticking to one project until the “end,” which isn’t permanent anyway in writing until printed in ink.

Today, at the start of another unstructured day, I kidnapped myself and duct taped my butt to the chair in front of the computer, then asked myself: what should I write about? To which I replied, I have no friggin idea.

My head is filled with lots of ideas, which end up in three or four notebooks on my desk, or a digital “note” file on my Mac. Where do I begin when I can’t see past a flock of ideas that block my view like a Sharkanado cloud?

How can I focus when lingering childhood insecurities bully their way into my conscious thoughts? I know. We’re all products of dysfunctional families. But many of us are able to escape the cycle of “almost there’s” when we grow into our adult selves.

I feel like I’ve been idling on off ramps for years, with a few successful stops along the way, one of which is my 27-year old son. He has surpassed all my expectations by overcoming the educational and social hurdles that encumber a child with Asperger’s Syndrome.

It’s a huge accomplishment and I would never minimize my contribution to his success.

Now that my son is on the path to success, I thought it was time for me to cement my own path.

I need to stop the vicious cycle of “I’m stupid” in which I’ve been stuck, leftover from the adolescent years and the stigma of growing up with a mentally challenged brother 22 months my senior.  This is my time to get unstuck and reboot my life, replace the negative inner voice, “I can’t” with the positive, “I can.”

A long time ago, I realized that when life sends you down a circuitous route, having GPS is helpful, but only the person at the wheel can drive you to your destination.

Do you feel stuck?

A Draft From My Fleeting Thoughts

Jenny looking out the windowI tried writing a blog post today and ended up floating through social media sites, adhering to the parameters of my short attention span.

On Twitter, I attempted to write 140 characters of prose for the 1st-line Wednesday hashtag game. Instead, I wrote 116 characters, which included the hashtag #1linewed, falling short of my 500-word goal.

Writing is hard. I know this and have accepted it, embraced the work ethic required that I haven’t yet mustered.

I castigate myself every time I get distracted and end up on the Internet. “You’re better than this,” I say.

If only I listened to myself.

I know I should disconnect when I’m sitting at the computer or use a distraction blocker to keep my focus on the screen, but I don’t. I allow the allure of whimsy to attract me.

I allow my thoughts to get stuck in the dusty light of fleeting things and end up writing something only 116 characters long, not worthy of the word “accomplishment.”

Why do I let myself slip into this redundant behavior of idling nothingness, the place self-control gives in to a quick digital fix? Why do I embrace the instant gratification of a social media high after which I drop into a hole so deep I can’t climb out?

Why do I allow my attention to mindlessly float in a sphere of whimsy? A conscious coma in which my thoughts slip into a montage of talk show appearances where I promote that book I never wrote.

Fantastical mind-wandering thoughts that float in my head like pond scum, eventually get stuck in the drain suck of inertia where passion nods off.

A sudden reflexive jerk snaps me back to another meaningless hashtag game, the rush of instant gratification gone as soon as I leave the page.

Nothing gained from my mindless wandering. Just fleeting thoughts of fancy that embrace you while you drift, then slip away.

Drifting is pleasant. Writing is painful. It’s black and blue. Dark and light.

It’s acceptable human torture when you’re not in the zone. Getting there requires discipline and a workable routine. That’s hard to harness when you’ve got time to squander on a week off (without pay).

A rigid time-constrained schedule keeps you within the designated lines on which you need to write. Without them, you fall off the document into the gray moat around the page.

How do you discipline yourself?

Do you have a regular writing routine?

Writer’s Block: Blame It On Trump!

Trump 60 Minutes Interview

I had every intention of writing a blog post but that same old dread enveloped me like a noxious fog — President Trump.

Eye twitches.

I tried to calm myself by meditating: ohm, ohm… Oh, my God, President Trump.

Throat constricts.

I tried taking a walk to get inspired: Trees, birds… Trump.

Brain freezes.

I’ve got nothing, I said. Any thoughts? I asked Myself, usually a very good listener and purveyor of good advice.

But she wasn’t helpful this time. “I don’t know,” Myself said introspectively. “Maybe write something about Trump.”

“But that’s depressing,” I grumbled. “Thinking about Trump makes me grumpy, or dare I say, Trumpy. You know I haven’t written anything in months because of Trump.”

Myself just sighed. She knew that Trump’s bigoted, unhinged comments stifled my creativity and provoked me to yell at inanimate objects like the shoe I just tripped over.

“What the hell, shoe!” I yelled. “Are you trying to kill me?”

The shoe offered a laced up rebuke. “You left me here,” it said. “… abandoned me like all the ideas you’ve scribbled on torn pages in your notebook. This one is on you, missy!”

“But, but?”

But, there were no more buts. The shoe was right–literally.

I had no business yelling at anything and went on an apology tour to all the inanimate objects in the house.

I realized that being depressed and stuck is exactly what a bully would want from the ladies he’s grabbed by the pussy, metaphorically or figuratively.

It didn’t matter. If I allowed Trump to victimize me from afar, my voice would be silenced–exactly what Trump would want.

So, I’ll do my best not to get Trumped and rant in run-on sentences with protruding cartoon eyes. It only upsets my blog who stares at me blankly, sputtering nonsensical words across an anemic-looking page.

“Damn it!” I screamed. “Write something smart!”

At which point the sidearm of my chair slapped my wrist and said, “Stop choking the monitor!”

“My God. I’m a monster!” I unclenched the computer and wiped my fingerprints from the screen.

“Sorry blog. This anger thing is unconscious and scary pervasive. I need to get a grip without getting a grip. Use my hands for good, instead of evil.”

“The power of Christ compels you” to purge the beast and write.

But write about what? Puppies or politics?

I love puppies but their cuteness is wasted on words, best captured in video or pictures.

I love politics but lately just see the giant orange burrito spew guacamole on TV. It sends me on a taco spending spree to crush them in the compactor.

No, I need a Trumpectomy, to turn off the TV and get Trump out of my head. Once there’s nothing left of him, I’ll be able to write again.

Now, if I only could think of something to write about.

Has your writing been Trumped?

You Don’t Know Jack Schmidt!

Jack W. Schmidt was born on September 19, 1927 and died on July 25, 2015 at age 88.

The world seems a bit off without him in it… this Jack of all trades who was an actor, writer, cryptologist and a financial analyst for the aerospace industry.

In Jack’s career as an actor, he appeared on Broadway in a short-lived musical spoof of Agatha Christie’s “Ten Little Indians,” and off-Broadway in “Little Shop of Horrors” as well as “The Fantasticks.” In film, he was an extra in the bank heist scene in Woody Allen’s “Take the Money & Run.”

A two-time winner of the “Bad Hemingway Contest” with wife Liz, Jack also won the hearts of the writers in the Ridgefield Writers Guild, a group he was a member of for 12 plus years.w-OBT-Schmidt

Jack was a formidable man, in spirit and stature. He was tall, but thin and frail in recent years and walked with a cane. His frailties were the antitheses of the strength he wielded in his voice and stories. The timbre of his voice resonated in a room when he read aloud and commanded the attention of those who had the pleasure of hearing him speak.

The stories Jack wrote were as much about his life and travels as they were about the people in his stories who shared his experiences. From his time spent in Mexico with literary peers, to witnessing H-Bomb blasts in the New Mexico desert, which he chronicled for the Air Force, and then later wrote about in story form — I was there with him, a passenger on his journeys, seeing the world as he did through his eyes and his words.

Jack was a gentle giant of a man and had a heart as large as Mexico. He was an inspiration to our writing group and always supportive. His talent and kindness will forever remain in our hearts.

In July, we lost an elegant writer, speaker and friend. A selfless man who lived big and dreamed bigger.

Carpe diem. Seize the day -Love Jack, he wrote in a 2009 email, a phrase that captures the way in which he lived his life.

We miss you, Jack!

RIP…

30 Minus 2 Days of Writing III, Day 1: Gouda Jones

 

 SAY GOUDA!

The story of Gouda Jones, a former cheesemonger and Wisconsin resident, is a source of pride and embarrassment for Gouda’s loyal fanbase of Cheeseheaads and Happy Hour enthusiasts.

There was never any doubt Gouda Jones had a nose for cheese. She could detect the finest cheese aromas from miles away with her extraordinary sense of smell. Her legendary smelling ability was admired by cheese connoisseurs and nasal allergy sufferers across the globe and earned her a place in history as the first Nobel Nose prize recipient.

Gouda was often called upon to select the cheese served at celebrity cocktail parties. Her decision to serve a Camembert at a Justin Bieber shindig was applauded by the cheese community but condemned by local authorities as the reason Justin Bieber egged his neighbor’s house. “He was high on Camembert at the time,” the Sheriff of Hollywood remarked.

The incident prompted a backlash of bad press for Gouda who fled the country for Canada, which ultimately ended her cheese celebrity career.

One wild night of partying in Toronto, snorting coke and Splenda with Mayor Ford and his gang of thugs, sent her to the THE SMELL AND TASTE CLINIC in Pennsylvania after her nose exploded. She was airlifted to the University of Penn., with cartilage fragments packed in ice, where doctors unsuccessfully attempted to reassemble her nose and reattach it to her face. Over Gouda Jones objections, doctors were forced to perform a radical Swineoplasty using a a pig snout to rebuild her nose.

Gouda Jones’ memoir, “Life in the Cheese Lane” is scheduled for publication in the fall of 2014. Her publicist would not confirm or deny rumors that Gouda will be wearing a fake nose and glasses for all public appearances.

Nasal.

Nasal. (Photo credit: Tom Mooring)

I’m participating in We Work for Cheese‘s Third Second Annual writing challenge, 30 Minus 2 Days of Writing, a.k.a. 28 days of torture. Today’s writing prompt is “Gouda.”

Note: ReplyMe Comment is not working. You will not receive a notification email when someone responds to a comment until I call BlueHost because it’s totally their fault. And honestly, calling BlueHost is the last thing I want to do today.

 

 

 

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How to Think Like a Writer

 

Most people think like this: ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­

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But writers think like this:

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We can’t help ourselves.

While driving to work I think about imaginary characters, or the tarp in the back of the truck in front of me that looks like there’s a body beneath it, or the street sign I just passed that was called “Bread and Milk.”

Bread and Milk Road

I don’t think about paying the bills, or going to the supermarket, or if the kitchen floor needs to be waxed. Normal humdrum stuff doesn’t get caught in my brain.

“How come my brain doesn’t work like yours?” you may ask. “Mine isn’t equipped to think in bizarro writer mode.”

That’s where you’re wrong, my B&W thinking friend. It’s like what Glinda the Good Witch told Dorothy at the end of the Wizard of Oz, “You had the ability to get home all along.”

Which incidentally pissed me off that she waited until the end to tell Dorothy that.

You, my B&W thinking friend, just need to start looking at the world in a different way.

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