If you weren't aware, My Moment of Time used to have its home on Wordpress. However, I decided I didn't particularly like using Wordpress and that it would be easier to have this blog in the same place I have my book blog, Classics and Beyond. So, I switched my favorite of my old blog posts over to here and now I'm excited for what My Moment of Time turns into.
This blog is where I talk about writing and life. Thanks for joining me!
Friday, December 13, 2013
I decided to try vlogging. I took a post I had already written for Samuel Richardson's Pamela and turned it into a video for my book blog.
I've been a little afraid to try video blogging. For one thing, I've always thought that I seem a lot smarter and more interesting on paper than in person. Also, I tend to ramble and end up not making sense or saying things I don't mean (or both). But I really like others' video blogs--when they're done well. So I decided to give it a shot.
Here's why I decided to try vlogging (and why you should too, if you're a blogger):
Remember how I said that it's hard for me to get going on my writing? That I'll start a certain idea and then drift off? That I'll write a sentence and then delete it a moment later?
I think I've found the cure.
I used to consider freewriting kind of an eye-roller--you know, it's one of those exercises they make you do in the 5th grade and you can never see the point. It's not like anything good comes of it. It's not like you'll ever actually take that page of scribbles and turn it into anything worth reading.
You know what the difference is between a person who is a writer and a person who isn’t one?
A writer writes.
Obvious, I know. But the truth is, sometimes I tell people I’m a writer--or I just tell myself that I’m a writer--when I haven’t written anything for days. Weeks, even.
I’m busy, of course. I have school. I have a husband. I have chores to do and dinners to make and errands to run. I have a life. But so does everyone. Writers are not hermits. (Usually.) They have hectic lives, too--perhaps much more hectic than mine--yet still they write.
Over the past few years, I’ve heard the advice countless times: Write daily. It’s good advice, of course, but it’s frustrating. I don’t always feel like writing, dangit.
Maybe it's the fact that I took so long to actually appreciate poetry that accounts for my inability to write it. Okay, I shouldn't say inability. I should say fear. Or dread. Or apprehension.
I have to write five hundred poems for my class. Okay, I only have to write six, to my knowledge. But when it comes to poems, six is the equivalent of five hundred in my mind.
It's one thing to write a poem in my journal on a rainy day, or even to share it on here if I feel like it and admit it has seen no revision whatsoever. It's a totally different thing to write poetry under pressure, to have to read it aloud to other people, to try to model it after the poetry of the greats. To stand face to face with my woefully inadequate vocabulary and my inability to paint pictures with words. To try to describe something that is simply not describable--at least, not if the poet has a woefully inadequate vocabulary and cannot rightfully call herself a poet.
Tomorrow I turn in my first piece for my creative writing class.
This is not the first class I've taken on creative writing. I've taken a fair few, considering the relatively small number of years I've had to take them. So naturally, I have the voices of several different writing instructors, whose advice I have worshipped, yelling in my ear any time I sit down to write.
There are countless "rules" (which, to be fair to my teachers, I'm sure they would have readily admitted are not hard and fast) that I think of when I write. "Show, don't tell." "Use exclamation marks very sparingly." "Write what you know."
These are lovely rules, and have helped me a lot over the years. I'm not trying to denounce them, or even to question them. But when it comes to non-fiction, which is what we're studying first in this particular creative writing class, everything seems to be less sure, less true, less real. It's hard to know which rules to break, which to bend, how far to go, how close to stay, how much to say, how much to leave unsaid.
Quite a statement from Queen Elizabeth I, at the end of her life. By the time these words passed her lips, she had acquired quite a few possessions. One has to wonder if she really meant a moment of time. Really--just one moment? Not an hour? Or at least a minute?
But the truth is, every hour and minute and day of our lives is made up of moments. In a moment, we breathe in a deep breath of life. And we make a decision. Every moment means another decision. A decision to live in joy or misery. A decision to be angry or forgiving. A decision to love or to hate.
This may sound all vague and religious. I mean, what is joy and misery, or love and hate? How does that translate to our everyday lives? I’m not really thinking about that metaphysical kind of stuff when I’m vacuuming, or grocery shopping, or trying to poach an egg.
But I think it’s the fact that we’re not consciously thinking about it that makes it so hard. We’re not constantly saying to ourselves, “Am I going to choose to be happy or sad right now?” Maybe if we could think about it all the time, it would be a little easier to choose happiness. But we can’t. We constantly get distracted by questions of what could be making those crackly noises in our vacuum cleaner, or why the average grocery store doesn’t sell large bottles of lemon juice.