Thursday, May 1, 2014

Take 2

My friend Maggie sent me a meme: #My Writing Process Tour.

I am sure she knows that I am somewhat vague about both memes and #s.
I looked up an official definition--or at least a wikipedia definition:

A meme 1] is "an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture." A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols, ...

It is not a new phenomenon and the word itself was coined in 1976, but of course an internet meme is a somewhat specialized type.

Maggie is an actual, real-life friend who is also an actual, real-life writer.  Writing is what she does (and does well, which there is no need to mention because it is obvious if you check out her stuff).  She has a blog and it is about writing and the writing life:  mag offleash.

It is possible to trace the topic back and learn about how others view and manage their writing process.  I suppose if I were dogged enough, I would keep tracing back just to discover who started this meme.

I no longer say that I am not a real writer but I play one in the private confines of my office.  Maggie would grumble at that and maybe stamp her foot a little.  I would say that writing has always been a hobby of mine, but lately, under the influence, support, and gentle prodding of our writing group, I realize that it is more than that.  It has become a part of who I am.

So I will play along and answer the four questions.

What are you working on?
I am guessing the the question is meant to ask, "What are you currently writing?" Yes?  In that case,  I am working on a number of writing projects.  There is this blog.  This is writing I do with various degrees of seriousness, but it is definitely serving a need in my life and has for a while now.  I am writing poetry, which at this time for me is as much spiritual practice as it is writing.  I am writing, putting aside, writing, rewriting, and thinking, thinking, thinking about a character who lives in my head.  I am not even sure yet what will become of May and her family, but I keep going back.  It is beginning to feel like an unrequited love.

I do hope that May  will let me know soon why she keeps hanging around.  I do own a couple of old fountain pens.  I cannot actually write with them (I have that hook-over left handed thing) and I might be overly tempted to start stabbing her with a pointed object.  It just now occurs to me that she may be slightly afraid of me.  Hmm.

Here is an introduction to May.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Well, I hope it differs from others' works because it is written by me and has my unique (a.k.a. quirky) voice.  And I would hate to be accused of plagiarism.

Why do you write what you do?
It seems that I have already started answering this one.  I blog because it meets a need I have to express myself so I know who I am.  Putting myself out there helps me be clear with myself first and foremost.  For me blogging serves the purpose of journal writing.  Of course, when I kept a paper journal/diary in my younger days, I would have been horrified if anyone (sibling/parent/friend/teacher) dared to read it. Now my written thoughts are out there for, literally, the whole wide world to read.  Fortunately, or not, my thoughts do not generate all that much interest and I am careful to shield myself from the implications of that fact.

Then, there is the social aspect of a blog.  Those who do read it on a regular basis, and those whose blogs I read are often virtual friends, but friends nevertheless.  They are all people I have come to care about and think about on a regular basis.  I know this is true for other bloggers as well.  So many of us seem to be introverts that I wonder if this is, finally, a safe way to interact with the world.

I started writing poetry a few years ago when I had the chance to participate in Mary Jane Dickerson's poetry workshop at the local library.  I had dabbled now and again with an attempted poem, but that first workshop fed something in me that I wanted to explore.  I discovered that I really liked poets.  I want to be around poets and think like a poet and see the world like a poet.  I even want to dress like a poet and eat what poets eat.  See why I need to work on strengthening my own voice?  Poetry goes beyond helping me have a sense of myself in my own small world.  Poetry helps me have a sense of myself as a part of the universe.  That is one awesome kick!

Here is one of my poems.

Somewhere in the middle--between blogging as practice and poetry as soul searching--lies the rest of the writing I do.  I sit down and write because I can and someone else finds it amusing, or convincing, or informative, or touching in some way.  I write so that I can have a creative voice.  I write because I have something to say but it is easier for me to think-write than think-speak.  I write because it is a part of who I am.

How does my writing process work?
I have read not all the books on writing there are to read, but I have read enough to know what I should be jotting down now!  My writing process, my discipline--nothing like most of that.

Sit down and write.  Sometimes I have to have something for group.  Sometimes ideas start swirling in my head when I am out for a long walk and I rush home to write.  Sometimes I write to avoid something else, doing my taxes or figuring out insurance forms always make writing look like a darn good thing to be doing.  Sometimes I do other things to avoid writing.  How could I possibly get words on paper when those dust bunnies are taunting me from under the desk and around the corner of the file cabinet? Sometimes--oh those rare and oh so precious times--I am just in the zone and things flow and I become nothing but a river following its natural course.

Sit down and write.  It will rarely be in the morning--the sacred time in most of the books about being a writer.  I have never been a morning person and I am becoming even less so as time goes on.  I like to write in the afternoon.

Sit down and write.  I sit in front of my computer.  It has its advantages--spell check, easy edits, no ink smears down my left pinkie and that side of my palm.  It has its disadvantages as well.  I have lost whole piles of stuff in computer meltdowns--slow learner when it comes to developing a backup habit.  I have notebooks and pens and pencils everywhere so I can jot down ideas the occur to me at odd times, but I mostly write on the computer.

Sit down and write.  Try and pay attention the rest of the time.

Now I am supposed to invite four others to participate and answer these questions.  I know that most of you are writers--even published writers--so consider yourself invited to #Your Writing Process Tour.  If it turns out I go over my four--oh, well.  If you don't want to do it, by all means don't.  It does get you thinking though...and as Maggie pointed out--a free blog topic.


  1. I just learned so much more about you that I didn't know already! Writers really do end up revealing themselves.
    I blog, therefore I write.
    I loved your poem. I garden, but I do not write poetry. And I do not write works of fiction. It does look like you and May might be on your way to ding just that.
    I am writing my memoir. I started this winter when I was recovering and restricted. I have not studied how to write a memoir. I just sit down and write, although finding time right now has been difficult. But it awaits the getting back to it. It will not be published, just around for someone to read in the future when I am no longer physically present.

  2. This was so interesting Olga. I feel pretty much the same as you about writing. I used to keep a journal and now I keep a blog. The interaction and feedback from others is so much more fun than just writing in a journal.

    As for being an introvert. I am technically an introvert. I took that Briggs-Meyer test while I was teaching and one of my high school classmates thought I was shy as a high school student. However, recently during our Southeast Asia trip somebody happened to say "You are certainly NOT shy!" I guess I've never really thought of myself as shy, but I know I'm introverted. Weird.

    So.... hmmmm.... just thinking sort of out loud. I guess writing is a way to blurt out our ideas if we don't tend to do it in person.

  3. This was a great post. Great writing flow and really gave me insight into who you and why you do what you do. You do have a talent for writing as this post shows. Now I am going to go off to your other links and read them.

  4. I can certainly understand "a garden left to its own devices". Loved the poem though I am not a gardener. And I love May. She will easily take readers where you want them to go.

  5. Ahhhh Olga, you are so inspiring. I love poetry but I've never written poetry. I'd be so intimidated to be in a writing group. I just write for is my way of coping. For years I just wrote to get my feelings out. I had no one else to talk to so I became my own therapist so to speak. I really enjoyed reading about May........keep writing......

  6. Lovely Olga. You indeed are a who is evolving and has great promise. I look forward to reading more of your work.

  7. Good luck and best wishes, Olga. Yes, I have self-published 3 books, numerous newspaper columns, and commentaries for the radio. All rewarding to me, so I know what you mean.

  8. I'm relieved your blog got fixed -- it resembled something an alien might have written.
    I, too, caught the writing bug early in life, and I've always enjoyed it. As an English major, then a graduate student in the same discipline, I wrote non-stop. As an English teacher, I tried to encourage a similar delight within my students. Now, I follow the same process I taught them: 1. Prewrite -- get your thoughts and ideas on paper. Brainstorm. Make jottings of anything relevant to your subject. 2. Draft -- just get everything written and disregard the errors. 3. Revise: Rip that draft apart and set it up in a unified and coherent manner. 4: Proofread -- check and re-check for spelling, grammar, and usage mistakes. 5. Publish -- exhibit the finished product. Somewhere between 3 and 5, I languish anymore. The thoughts are there, but I never finish.

    I loved your poem and story starter. Keep prodding May until she's gets a-movin'. I'd love reading the rest of the story.

  9. So glad you are fixed. That was weird. Odd you mentioned how zealously we guarded our early journals but now print all our personal feelings. Got to be healthier.
    I admire your tackling poetry. That to me is so difficult.
    I have always written, once thinking I could produce a novel but then discovered blogging and it answered all my needs. Keep putting those words to paper.

  10. You really are inspirational -- and this was a great post to read. I always loved writing short stories in school -- creative writing classes were certainly some of my favorites. But even though I do blog I don't consider myself a writer -- more of a story teller. So glad we are virtual friends -- I do enjoy reading your work. Now off to read about May!

  11. You have to write more of May's story! PLEASE!

  12. I began writing, as I knew it therapeutic. I published my book, which was something I wanted to do. Then, I began the blog, to keep in touch with family. My daughter usually reads my blog on her lunch hour!
    I post photos for hubby, in a place where he can see them.
    Everyone else who visits is just a bonus!
    (ツ) from Cottage Country Ontario , ON, Canada!

  13. Hi Olga, I'm always interested (nosy?) to read about another's writing process. I always wrote in spiral notebooks in black ink. Now, like you, I prefer the computer. I love your Neglected Garden poem. Life does manage to go on even if we can't give it our usual TLC.

  14. From the time I was about ten years old until my early 30s I wrote letters, lots of letters, to aging aunts and a best friend that moved away. In my early years it was my only means of having a voice, my only way to have contact with people outside of my house. How I miss letters. Each letter found in the mailbox was a surprise gift for me. When I worked I wrote booktalks to give before students in schools. I really enjoyed that process and was richly rewarded when the students came to the library asking for the books I had introduced. Journal writing has been a part of my life for a long, long time. Blogging came about as an exercise to try to put two words together that made any sense after my brain shut down parts of its many jobs. I prefer writing on paper rather than on the computer. I love the feel of pencil or pen on paper. I, too, am a leftie and my left pinkie has been smeared with ink most of my life. I am a list maker, the bulk of any writing I do. I really like your poem, but May, now May is someone I want to get to know. Please write her book! Reading that little bit was like giving me a cookie and taking the plate away before I had three or four more!

  15. The post is very informative. It is a pleasure reading it. I have also bookmarked you for checking out new posts.
    Gold & silver chain by the inch


I appreciate readers' comments so much. You don't even always have to agree with me.