Category Archives: Blogosphere

Depression and writing

In my humble opinion, depression and writing may, on occasion, happen to be responses to the same stimulus. But writing , or any other art, does not depend on great emotional turmoil. But for the most part, the pain just makes the art harder.

This idea is better put, here:

On depression and the writer | Write Anyway with Alice Bradley.

The idea that depression somehow feeds creativity is nonsense. Depression is a parasite. We all have limited reserves of energy, and mental illness drains these reserves.

Her point was  further supported in this delightful snippet I stumbled upon at The Sun Magazine:

Why must every literary examination of Robert Lowell, of John Berryman, of Anne Sexton, of Jean Stafford, of so many writers and artists, keep perpetuating the notion that their individual pieces of genius were the result of madness? While it may be true that a great deal of art finds its inspirational wellspring in sorrow, let’s not kid ourselves about how much time each of those people wasted and lost by being mired in misery.
 — Elizabeth Wurtzel

Too good not to share

The meaning of life, explained.

http://motivationaccordingtohoyle.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/the-game-of-life/

(Edited: the meaning of life was not in the comments to the post linked to. It was the actual post. Apologies to anyone who tried to figure that out earlier.)

MY GOD BLOGHER

OK, I was shouting up there.

But I intentionally did not punctuate.
Because I am a big believer in punctuation, I can assure you that I considered:

My God, BlogHer!

My God: BlogHer.

My God; BlogHer!!

My!! God, BlogHer!

And several other variations involving more or less exclaimation marks.

And I chose none of them. Why? Because, really, I needed all of them, and there’s only so much space in the title line.

It was awesome. It is far easier if I tell you the less good parts, and you can just assume the rest of the weekend was so fantastically amazing. Really, the lows were pretty miniscule: I lost my train ticket and we had to (gasp) spend another 2 hours in NYC (and pay less for our train home!) and oh, I still had the tummy troubles I went down with.

And that’s the worst I could come up with. Thousands of words were written about the experience, but I’m too lazy to be trying to link to any of them here. My experience was hugely heightened by the company of the delightful Grace, whose eyes nearly fell out of her head, and who kept saying things in her amazement like: “All of these people are writers!” “We are writers!” and other charming, thoughtful observations that I wouldn’t have missed for the world. She had manywell-thought out commentaries, too, but I’ll let her write about those.

Wow just doesn’t cover her, though. She was a fabulous companion. Is a fabulous companion: we plotted many more opportunities for get aways big and small, with and without offspring and husbands. We discussed the world, our gripes and beliefs, plans and dreams. Six hours in the car and two and half on the train, and we still had more to say.

Once we arrived, we goggled as we walked to our hotel (it was almost exactly 25 years ago I was in the city last!), then we walked up to and across Central Park to the apartment of a woman friend I haven’t seen since my girls were born. She was every bit as lovely as ever. Her kids are the cutest and brightest, her husband still charming. Their home was a delight, a vision into a different world – of doormen and elevators and strollers in the hall closet. My friend, stressed from too many business trips and long, long days, was exhausted.

I was feeling very “country mouse” – though grateful to have my quiet little existence, my own patch of green and trees I could hug; my world seemed much less vital than hers. But then, I flagged down a cab. Me! in New York City! Clearly, I have some latent capabilities.

The next day I met up with my oldest friend, whose mother and mine had connected when we were in playschool (in the 60’s, folks!), and, through them, we connected again in our teens. Since then we have been meeting up every few years, but somehow, this time it had been 10. I was loathe to try to call up a mutual friend to find her contact information, but just before the trip I tried Facebook, and lo and behold, there she was, and willing to visit with me.

It was fabulous to see her. Hers is another kind of priviledged NYC life, working in Manhattan and living 40 minutes out by train, with her husband, 2 older kids and a nanny, who,  as my friend gently chuckles when she says it, is essentially her “wife”, and keeps the household running efficiently. That also sounds like a great kind of life, though naturally they’ve had their struggles and uncertainties, too.

The conference went on. I am full of new determination and resolutions (more on that another time). I learned a lot, but most of all, I loved seeing the variety of people, on the streets and in the conference. Grace and I had one supper out together, a real celebration of our adventures, at a Russian French restaurant that oozed history. We saw the MoMa. I would have put in 16 hours round-trip travel time, paid the expense of staying there and the conference admission just to spend the 20 minutes I did in front of Monet’s waterlilies. I’m trying to figure out when I can get back there.

Altogether, the trip made me feel part of something much, much bigger. And glad to go home to something smaller.

So I promised a story.

 There was a small tempest, earlier this week, over at Dani’s blog.
Some Mommybloggers I greatly respect discovered they were included in a Master’s thesis, available online. I was, I admit, fascinated with the thesis, their response to it, and how that response evolved online.

But in my comment to the original post, I alluded to how it all reminded me of a story.
I could relate to the pressures of trying to tie together a paper that really wanted to go in a billion directions at once.

Once upon a time, a long time ago, I studied linguistics. This does not involve, contrary to popular belief, and fortunately for me, actually learning a whole whack of languages. Instead, it concentrates on theories about language and languages. I love that stuff.

Anyway, for one of my courses  (I think I was following up on some theories posited in earlier research) I decided to look at gender differences in language – by studying graffiti. Chosing this topic involved some serious short cuts to make it manageable – I’d look only at one set of bathrooms (men’s and women’s) on campus, documenting and reviewing what I found. 

On the walls in there,  I  found a striking difference – men made assertions, women sought community or affirmation. But in the process of trying to winnow down my thesis into something manageable, I really missed any possibility of producing anything generalizable.

Plus, I must say I had a hell of a good time seeing the reaction on faces of students hanging around, observing both my boyfriend and I heading into our respectively gender-designated cans, then coming out some time later, each trying to shake the kinks out of his or her hand. And commiserating with each other about “how exhausting that was” – while being visibly excited to compare notes… Yeah, that must have looked good.

I had enlisted his help to record the comments in the boy’s room, and it took quite a bit of doing to jot down all that he saw. Our hands were worn out from transcribing, folks, transcribing!

Need I mention this was before the day of cell phone cameras? Nowadays it would be a breeze to just nonchalantly photograph the walls of the stall for posterity.

My point being:  I wonder whether the authors of some of those discussions (and I did record some surprisingly personal, lengthy discussions) ever thought their work would be the subject of “academic” review?

Maybe this new media, creating more public space, also creates such a sense of community that it becomes really easy to forget who else can wander by and use your words, draw conclusions about your life, and cast aspersions on your ideals. Made me want to write a couple of theses myself – despite my propensity to dissolve into a puddle of procrastination at the sight of my work being reviewed.  

But hey, bring on the aspersions! That’s what I’m signing up for.

Inspiration

The blogosphere has been much on my mind.
On July 23 we went to Blog Out Loud, which was a phenomenal. There was such a wide diversity of voices, all with distinct, valuable things to say. Most inspiring. A part of me was wondering what on earth I have to contribute to the greater discussion, but the readings convinced me: my very individuality is worthy of recording and sharing.

 Also at that evening, I had a wonderful conversation with a blogger who was forced by court order to take her blog down – by the father of her child. We got on great. She proposed a blog title: Blog Like You’ve Never Been Subpoenaed.* That single sentence relieved my other great concern – privacy.

I mean, I know just how easy it would be to identify me, for this to be found, and read, by my bosses, collaborators, neighbours, nurses, postman… Anyone could know much more about me than I knew they knew. Can I live with that and still publish?

Following Blog Out Loud I began to wonder if I could live with the idea that because of the possibility of being known, I wasn’t publishing.

I have long applied the notion that the things you regret most are those that you do not do. The foregone option, the indecision, the road not taken, have all been the most lamented.  

 I don’t want to miss this chance to record my life right now, share it with others, and participate in one of the great evolutions of communication. And besides, I want to have some credibility when I get to BlogHer in NEW YORK CITY. (Less than a year away!)

So I determined I would, in earnest, blog.

May the saints protect me.

 That was more than a month ago. I managed to busy myself with other projects. Writing erotica has its benefits: when you tell people you are writing porn, they never ask to read it. Seriously though, I promised myself I’d get something done at work before I was “allowed” to focus on this project, and I did, so I am.

 Now that I have moment, what was it that I going to say?

My good friend is doing fabulous stuff with Mothermind. Her awesomeness is almost as apparent in her writing as in having the pleasure of knowing her for years. I commend her site to you. Be warned, you may see some stolen themes herein in the near future. I am consistently impressed at her candor and creativity.

* (Copy this at your won peril – I’m not at liberty to identify her, but I bet she’d want author’s credit on this one – or first rights to use it. And clearly, she is now familiar with the legal system.)