Overwhelmed by Words

Old book bindings at the Merton College library.

Image via Wikipedia

The swan’s long wing feathers curved inward like talons, its gray-webbed feet almost touched the delicate skin of her belly, and its black-circled eye was as fierce as the gaze of a stallion. The sheer force of its flight toward her, caught on canvas, was astonishing, and this explained visually and psychologically the panic of the woman in the grass. The swan’s tail curled under it, a pelvic thrust, as if to further aid its impulsive slowing. You could feel that the bird had burst over those vague thickets only a moment before, that it had come upon the sleeping form suddenly, and just as suddenly had veered to land on it in a paroxysm of desire.” (Elizabeth Kostova, The Swan Thieves 36)

Sometimes the power and beauty of other people’s words makes me feel like a child stumbling over her first simple stories. For example, in the above passage Kostova paints a picture with words–a painting I see with my mind’s eye, yet a painting that does not really exist in this world. In this passage she also reveals the psychology of numerous characters: the women who lies in fear, the swan who hovers in power, and the observer of the painting (who readers already  know is a psychologist dealing with a patient who tried to attack this painting). Every word Kostova chooses reveals something that will come to play later in her book, I’m sure. She had that power in The Historian and I sense that she will continue to amaze me throughout The Swan Thieves.

I can’t write like that.

But it’s not just published (paid) authors who intimidate me. I feel humbled daily by some of the amazing writing I read here in the blogosphere. Writing that makes me laugh, writing that makes me cry, writing that carries me away with the sheer beauty of words, writing that awes me with its honesty. Perhaps the honesty of some people’s writing is the most powerful thing for me; not that I am dishonest when I write (I try to be completely honest) but the way people can reveal so much in so few words is amazing to me.

This week I’ve noticed that many bloggers are beginning to recognize each other and acknowledging the blogs that add spice to their reading days.  So, borrowing the idea from the talented Hilary Clark and her “Fan”tabulous Friday as well as the always hilarious and though-provoking words of Tori Nelson from “The Ramblings”, I want to recognize the words that I have admired the most recently. But more than that, I want to thank these writers for the honesty and beauty that they share through their writing.

  • Just this morning, I found myself sobbing after reading the post “Remembering your happiness”  by one of my favorite bloggers at Random Thoughts from Midlife. Christine seems to be facing many things that I am facing as well, but she does it with powerful insight that I appreciate.
  • A. Hab, from “A. Hab’s View of the World” is one of the bravest writer’s I know. While facing the never-ending challenges of academia, writing a dissertation, and creating a life as a recently married woman, she writes honestly about issues that hit me close to home.  A little over a week ago she wowed me with a discussion about the semantics of the word “gay” . In today’s post she reveals with utter honesty her feelings about competition and fears as she is thrust into the game.
  • Finally, one of the bravest writer’s I have been reading this week is Kathryn McCullogh at Reinventing the Event Horizon. Each and every post she writes comes from the heart and reveals something powerful. She is about to embark on a journey into memoir that takes courage and strength as well as a powerful use of language. She has them all.

In a way, today I am feeling fearful of my own writing, but truly grateful for the community of writers that I enjoy–whether through books or blogs, letters or poems. Thank you all for the words.


Nothing to Do

Today’s post is dedicated to smiles and laughter, because it is better to do that than cry. To that end I will share a story I wrote when Sarah had just discovered the joys of mobility and the adventure that is childhood.  She’s growing up so fast.

Nathan and Sarah at the Daddy Daughter Valentine's Dance 2011


Sarah is bored.  There is nothing to do.

Happy trouble maker

She makes Lizzy, her puppy, chase her.  They share Sarah’s cookies.  Yum! But now Sarah is bored.  There is nothing to do.

Sarah fixes the house.  The big chairs on wheels look good spread out.  Mommy’s little stool looks good in front of the door.  Sarah leaves the cushion on the floor in the living room so she can lie down.  The basket of toys looks good in the middle of the room.  Lizzy’s toys look good all over the floor.

All done, and there’s nothing to do.

Sarah helps Mommy by putting diapers in piles all around the room.  They look good, but there is nothing to do.

Sarah kisses her stuffed animals.  She checks her toys by putting them on the floor with Lizzy’s toys.  Mommy looks lonely.  She needs toys and drinks in her lap.

Mommy says, “Thank you.”

Sarah’s basket is empty.  There is nothing to do.

Lizzy wants to go outside.  Sarah helps Mommy put Lizzy on the chain.  When Lizzy comes back in Sarah gives her treats.

Mommy says “Only two.”

Sarah knows Lizzy needs three, four . . . ten.

Mommy's Little Helper

Lizzy goes to sleep and there is nothing to do.

Sarah brings Mommy the thing with buttons that turns on her video.  Sarah practices mooing, barking, and quacking.  She claps when the children sing.  The video ends.  Sarah wants to see it again.  But she doesn’t watch it.  There is nothing to do.

Mommy gives Sarah grapes, cheese, goldfish and milk.  Sarah drops food on the floor in case Lizzy is hungry.  It’s yummy but Mommy’s not eating.  It’s more fun to eat from Mommy’s plate.

Sarah’s full.  She’s stuck in the high chair with nothing to do!

Mommy lets her run again.  Sarah brings Mommy a book.  Mommy loves to read.  Sarah wants to hear it many times.  Mommy stops reading and sings until that silly phone thing rings.  The one Mommy doesn’t let Sarah play with.  Mommy talks into the phone.  Sarah wants Mommy to look at her.  Sarah talks.  She laughs.  She smiles.  Nothing works.  Sarah plays the drums for Mommy.  Mommy keeps talking.  Sarah sings loudly.  Mommy puts the phone down and picks Sarah up.

Mommy is holding her and there is nothing to do.

Sarah snuggles with Mommy.  Maybe she will stay there until there is something to do.  She falls asleep.

When she wakes up, the house is different.  The toys are in the basket, the diapers are gone, and the chairs are near the table.  Sarah wants to fix them. Lizzy is hungry.  Daddy is home and needs to read a book.  Sarah wants to watch her video and eat a snack.  Mommy needs to sing and dance.  Daddy hasn’t tickled her.  There are shadows on the floor that Sarah needs to chase.  There’s a new box to hide in too.

Sarah jumps up thinking, “There is something to do!

Daddy has big feet!

Learning to draft, designing sets.

The little girl who created the chaos still loves to organize, explore and keep busy, as can be seen in these pictures from last summer at Okoboji Summer Theater.

Sarah in a Box


And for your entertainment, the great Judy Garland:

Appeasing the Gods and Goddesses

Dionysus and Eros, Naples Archeological Museum.

Image via Wikipedia

Okay, I’m beginning to think that I must have really offended some all-powerful being who has decided that it would be fun to throw as many challenges in my way as possible when it comes to this show. As my Music Director (who is the one who officially hired me for this job) said today, “Our show is doomed! Doomed!” Why, you ask, when I had such a positive post about it yesterday, and a really successful (and short) tech today. Let us review, shall we:

  • Very few of the theater students auditioned for the show
  • I asked people from the theater department to stage manage for me, and every one of them decided that they had to get jobs rather than help.
  • Before I even started rehearsal, two performers quit.
  • I went into the rehearsal period without a stage manager, and was only able to find one about three weeks in. The only reason I found one is because one of my cast’s boyfriend wanted to spend more time with her. He is a football player with no theater experience, and not much motivation to learn.
  • During the third week of rehearsal, one of the few actual theater students involved, quit two minutes before rehearsal began for COMPLETELY RIDICULOUS REASONS. He, of course, was the person with the most lines. I came up with what I think was a pretty good solution, but only time will tell.
  • Another one of the male performers was having family/transportation/job issues which meant he could rarely make it to rehearsal. I eventually had to let him go.
  • Eventually the cast settled down to three guys plus my Music Director who is also taking on a role, and 5 women. They are all fabulous!
  • The softball coach scheduled a tournament for this weekend (which was the planned date of the performances) and refused to compromise so that our two softball player performers would be able to perform, forcing us to change the dates of the show.
  • After we bent over backward to accommodate her, she still decided to pull her players out of rehearsal on Thursday so her team could go shopping to the movies and spend the night in a hotel, even though they could have left early this morning and still had plenty of time to get to the tournament.
  • One of my other actresses was falsely arrested because some other woman with her name blew off a court date and some other stuff.  Basically Bad J stole Good J’s identity. Luckily she was only in jail for  1 1/2 hours, but it has really upset her and added stress that was not necessary.
  • Another male performer has been out sick all this week with a migraine that lead to constant vomiting.
  • Last night, during a dry tech rehearsal (no actors, just tech) my stage manager informed us that he could not be here today, for the technical rehearsal scheduled so that he could learn what he needs to do.  Nathan took over as Stage Manager, and the “boyfriend” will now be running lights. One of the other crew members cannot be here for two of the three dress rehearsals, and I still need at least one more person to help out.
  • And finally, today one of the guys went into the hospital to have his appendix removed which means we may have to cut his numbers, one of which includes some of the fabulous puppets that Nathan spent hours making.

So now, with all that, I am going to end with a prayer to appease the gods and goddesses and anyone else who needs appeasing. Hopefully they will not be offended by this next attempt at creativity. I’m including as many of the ones connected with the arts or other issues in this story as I can find, so that I don’t offend any possibilities. I used this site , as it had a truly diverse list. Ahem:

Apollo, who loves music, poetry, art
allow our songs to “Rock the School House!”
and make our “subjects sing!”

Dagda, Irish father,
give us an Irish toast
to welcome laughter and the joy it brings.

Dionysus invite your followers
to join us in a theater full of music and life,
toast to our success.

Ganesh remove our obstacles
and share your wisdom
to allow all these talented students to sing.

Hephaestus recognize the sculptural art
of  puppets and give them life.

Hermes allow the poems to speak
and share the messages with young and old.

Hygeia, Goddess of Health
please help my actors return in strength.

Odin, Norse Father God
grant us the inspiration to make theater magic work.

Santoshi, Goddess of Patience
help me let go of the frustration
and give the gift of a fabulous show.

Spirits of power,
whoever you are
whatever name you choose
Grant this group of hard-working folks
the opportunity to amuse.

If  I missed anyone, please forgive me and allow my cast the joy of a successful show!


Fighting Bias


The gym creaked with the wandering feet of swimmers, families and friends socializing between races at the weekend-long swim meet.  The air was heavy with the smell of chlorine oozing out of the pores of all the swimmers.  Some wandered with huge smiles after winning their races.  Others moved slowly with aching muscles and fatigue, damp towels draped around their necks or wrapped around their waists.  I was usually one of the latter, feeling the exhaustion of a 100 meter butterfly or a 500-freestyle race.

The multi-colored bathing suits and sweatshirts that represented various teams mingled in a damp rainbow as swimmers took this opportunity to flirt with strangers from other teams.  I was no exception, but being shy and uncomfortable in my blossoming thirteen-year-old body, I tagged along with Brenda and Dawn rather than venturing out on my own.  Both girls were younger than me but fully confident when it came to interaction with boys.  Brenda’s petite frame and deep brown eyes that glistened with flirtatiousness behind thick black lashes made boys melt.  Dawn showed the confidence of the champion breaststroker she was reflected in the movements of her tall lean body.

We managed to attract the attention of Paul and his friends, boys from a competing team.  Paul had brown hair with a wave bordering on curly and deep hazel eyes.  I loved eyes and still do.  Nothing could send a thrill deep into my stomach like eyes that seemed to go on forever, especially if they were a unique color.  Paul’s had the magic.  He was my dream guy of the moment and I was thrilled that he included me in on the conversation.  I wasn’t just a hanger-on, but I was part of it.  We all told jokes, laughed, and had a great time.

“This is really fun,” Brenda said.

“Yeah, you girls are cool,” Paul replied.

“We have to get ready for our next races,” I reminded everyone, always the responsible one.

“Do you want to hang out again later?” Paul asked.

We all readily agreed until he said one more thing which made my stomach churn, “You girls are cool and we don’t want to hang around with any Jews.”

I felt my face go pale, and couldn’t respond out of shock.  Brenda and Dawn looked at me and must have been afraid I would say something to ruin their chance with the boys.  Dawn grabbed my arm, pulling me away.

“Just leave it,” she hissed, “they’re so cute.”

Brenda used her most flirtatious voice to say, “We’ll catch you later.”

As we walked away from the smiling boys, Brenda and Dawn wiggled their bottoms and I tried not to be sick.

I remember the internal struggle I fought then, one that I have fought many times in my life.  I was the only Jew on the team, and usually one of the only Jews in my class.  I didn’t always get included with everyone because sometimes I had to leave early to go to Hebrew School.  I was accustomed to feeling left out when I had to miss practice because of the High Holidays. I was accustomed to being singled out when I had to present something about being Jewish on international days at school. I had accepted this element of my being different. I had also already experienced people hating me because I was a Jew. My mother was beaten up by a woman in front of my brother, while he was held at knife point by the woman’s son. I had been pushed off my tricycle. Being ostracized for Judaism was a part of my life, but I was also at the age where I recognized how wrong that was.

I wasn’t often flirted with by such cute boys, or at least I wasn’t aware of it.  But could I ignore the obvious hatred in his voice?  Were hormones more important than family, prejudice, history?

When I saw them flirting again I was going to ignore them, but as I walked by I heard Paul telling a Jewish joke.  I couldn’t stop myself.

In my sweetest voice I said, “It’s been really fun hanging out with you guys today.”

“Yeah,” Paul said.  “You girls are really cool.”  (I think at this point I realized what a limited vocabulary he had.)

“So then we’re friends?” I asked.

“Yeah,” Paul answered.

“So you like me?”  Paul just nodded looking puzzled.  “Well,” I paused for emphasis.  “I’m Jewish.”  I walked away with the quickest glance back that revealed shocked looks on all the faces, Paul’s in particular.

I was alone when Paul caught up with me and stammered an apology.  I gracefully accepted, feeling like a queen who had taught her royal subjects an important lesson while keeping their adoration and respect.  But we never really talked again, and I still had my own lesson to learn.

Flash forward ten years to a bar in Okayama, Japan.  I had been in Japan for two weeks, and was hanging out at Desperados with some students.  Behind me some gaijin (foreign) men played pool, the clack of the balls emphasizing their conversation held in loud American and Australian accents.  During my three years there, I could never decide who was louder, Americans or Australians (with the occasional Irish or English thrown in) but it was definitely not the Japanese (unless they were very drunk) who held quieter conversations at the darkened tables around me.

I sat across from Akemi, one of my best students who would later become one of my best friends.  Her thick long black hair surrounded the pale beauty of her Asian face that held extra character from the slight sprinkling of freckles across her nose.  Her easy smile was brightened further by rosy pink lipstick, and her laugh was one of the loudest I ever heard from a Japanese woman, sudden bursts of volcanic noise that broke the silence of even the most somber tea party.  We were playing Othello™ a game few people could beat me at in the U.S.A.  But Akemi was winning.

I remember thinking:  This is so normal.  I didn’t know they played Othello™.  I didn’t know they were so much like me.  I didn’t know they were so civilized.  I didn’t know they were so intelligent.

My thoughts echoed in my brain, berating me with the brutal reality that I too was racist.  I had somehow absorbed into my subconscious thought that Americans like me were more intelligent, more civilized and more . . . something than this unformed blob of “other” or “they,” anyone who lived a different life from my own.  I was shocked at my own bias and from that moment on have lived more fully conscious of my prejudices, fighting against them whenever they dare to make an ugly appearance.  Or at least I have tried to.

How far removed was the young woman in her early twenties, educated and exploring the world, from the adolescent Paul spouting hatred that he probably learned from his parents?  Sadly the two were related by ignorance rather than by the stronger connection of humanity.  I learned my lesson in the dim light of that foreign bar.  Did Paul learn his in the fluorescent squeakiness of a high school gym?

Lights, Sound, Music, Show!

I love to sit in a darkened theater and work with a lighting designer to build subtle but powerful changes on the stage. I love the power of light to create depth, dimension, color and emotion.

I love tech, when all the hard work comes together, and all the individual bits and pieces become a piece of living art.

This show has taken a long time to get to this point. From the day I initially accepted the assignment to direct School House Rock! to my fears because this would be the first musical I ever directed. From my watching and re-watching the videos, to my brainstorming how to make this show come to life in a new and interesting way. What is normally a six-week rehearsal process, became a process that seemed interminable, extended by snow days and the evil confrontation with a softball coach from hell. While tonight should have been opening night it is, instead, the beginning of technical rehearsals, and a long weekend.

But that’s okay. I love tech. And, the additional week means that the show is going to be that much better.

Of course, I’ve also had to deal with: actors quitting  early on, actors quitting after 3 weeks of rehearsal, no theater major willing to stage manage, a stage manager who does not have a clue, the unexpected early departure of my softball players (so that the team could go shopping, see a movie, and waste more money on a hotel rather than leave early this morning), a performer who is down for the count this week because of severe migraines and vomiting, and a choreographer who was overextended.


But you know what, the show is going to be great! And, as I sat in the darkened theater yesterday watching the magic of lights build, I felt good about it. As I watched half of my cast put on an incredible performance during rehearsal last night, despite the missing people, I felt really good. As I watched the wonderful puppets that Nathan created (because I wanted puppets in this show) come to life, I felt great! As I listened to the powerful voices of my cast, I felt enriched.

One more week. The show opens next Friday. Look for production photos in a post next week!

But, as a teaser, here are is a preview of a puppet as it was being built. Virtual bonus points for the reader who guesses which song uses a rhinoceros puppet!

Any guesses which song this is for?

Battling Boggarts

“The charm that repels a boggart is simple, yet it requires force of mind. You see, the thing that really finishes a boggart is laughter. What you need to do is force it to assume a shape that you find amusing.” (J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, 134)

As I lay in bed at 3:30 am trying every trick I could think of to make my mind rest and find some passage into peaceful dreams or–even better– a dreamless sleep, I found myself wishing that we could confront all fears with a simple flick of the wrist and a spell.

Riddikulus!” I would yell, and the evil woman who still plagues my life would blow up like a balloon and float away, only to be deflated by the unintentional beaks of migrating geese. She lands safely, of course, in the middle of an island where she will actually be happy because she will always get her way, since there will be nobody else there to object.

Riddikulus!” And the entire sports program, especially overbearing coaches and testosterone-filled basketball and football players would appear in frilly pink tutus, begging for the opportunity to perform on stage.

Riddikulus!” The Extreme Conservative Republicans who want to change the world so the rich continue to get richer and anyone who is not rich will simply disappear (unless they remain as servants)–they will all find themselves on the streets, unable to get medical attention, food, jobs, or any other necessities of life.

Riddikulus!” My dogs would develop the ability to fly and the courage to chase and bark at the rumbling god of thunder. They will find so much joy in this ability that I won’t see them until the sky is blue or they collapse in quiet exhaustion, leaving me to work in peace.


The list could go on and on. I know, I am responsible for my own happiness. But sometimes, I wish the solutions could come with the simple wave of a wand.

What form would your boggarts take?

Ties that Bind Can be Broken

I have a friend in New Zealand.  She and I went to college together, and I just reconnected with her this past December.  She’s okay, she does not live in Christchurch so she and her students only felt the quake with minimal interruption and damage. She wrote a mass e-mail to her friends and family in the States which made me think about how interconnected we all are in this world, and how fragile those connections can be in the face of disasters–both natural and man-made. I am going to quote liberally from her, because her words speak for themselves:


” . . . A few of [my students] have family members injured and damaged homes, which is obviously a worry for them.
This is so much worse than the September quake. Although smaller on the Richter scale, it was shallower, and closer to the city center. The epicenter was in Lyttleton . . . the September quake happened at 4:35 am, and we had no deaths. This quake occurred during the lunch hour. Several buildings have collapsed. One, the Canterbury TV building, caught fire. After 24 hours, the rescue effort was abandoned, as they felt that there was no hope of any survivors, and the search and rescue teams were reassigned – heartbreaking for those who have family and friends inside. There are 6 sites where they know there are people trapped. The official death toll is, at last count 75, There are 300 missing. This is not as hopeless as it sounds, as communication is iffy at best. I think – but those are only those who have been identified and next of kin notified. We all fear that the toll will rise. NZ is a small place, and Christchurch is a smaller one. There are not 6 degrees of separation in New Zealand – there are maybe 2. I find it unlikely that many of us will find that we know no one killed or injured in this.
Many houses in Lyttleton, Heathcote, Sumner and New Brighton have been destroyed – some falling in the quake, some destroyed by boulders rolling down from the Port Hills. Many of the buildings lost in Christchurch city are absolute icons – the Cathedral, the Catholic Cathedral, Provincial Chambers, the Time Ball Station in Lyttleton. Those of you who have been to Christchurch will not recognise it on your return – the cityscape has changed forever.
Aftershocks continue to shake the area – here in Geraldine we only feel the ones that are bigger than 4, but in Christchurch they are more frequent, and increase the danger for those in damaged buildings. I have offered to house friends from Christchurch as many of the eastern suburbs (Bromley, Linwood, New Brighton, Aranui, Heathcote…(all places I lived or have friends) are without power. Water will continue to be an issue as much of the infrastructure is damaged. People have to boil water (if they have it) and even those with running water aren’t allowed to shower or flush the toilet to alleviate  pressure on the system. At this point, no one is here, but as time goes on I could wind up running a refugee center here.
For me – I feel a bit of “survivor’s guilt’ – that so many I know and care so much for are suffering so much – and my life goes on uninterrupted. There is also the surreal experience of watching the scenes on television. It is easy, I think, to get disaster fatigue – oh look, another flood, another earthquake, another fire… and then there is the realisation – that this is, in fact, your city, a place you’ve called home – not some unknown city in a far away place.
. . .
Please keep the people of Christchurch in your thoughts and/or prayers. They are doing it hard and will be for a long time after the cameras are gone.


I’m glad my friend is safe, but this has made me think about the web of interconnectedness that  I have often written about. My web grows daily, as I make new friends through the world of blogging. Some of them have touched me more than they know, by welcoming me into their lives, their stories and their pictures. We may never meet in reality, but I still consider them part of my web. Stories like my friends make me want to do more to help the people I don’t know, the ones connected to me by only a few degrees of separation or maybe event several, as well as the ones tied to me by a single invisible thread.

I have a friend in New Zealand. I have a friend in Haiti. I have friends all over the world. How can I help?

For some beautiful pictures of Christchurch before the destruction read this lovely, Freshly Pressed blog.



To Crack or Not to Crack

I went to the chiropractor yesterday for the first time since last May.

My previous chiropractor was more the touch=feel-CRACK kind of doctor. She didn’t beat me up too brutally, but she would feel for blockages or tightness and then miraculously find the perfect way to release them. Sometimes she would concentrate on one area, sometimes she would crack several. Some days it hurt, some days it felt incredible. I still remember my first adjustment from her. I could barely turn my head and my back was completely stiff. She had me sit on the edge of the table, and cross my arms in front of me. She took me into a great strong hug, and then bent down to slowly roll my back onto the table.

Snap, snap, snap, snap, snap, aaaahhh!

This doctor is different. He takes a much more specific and scientific approach.  He took x-rays of my neck to see exactly what was going on in there to the last centimeter. He won’t do that every time, but that is how he begins. Then he decides on the exact angle and approach to adjustment to fix the problem. This whole process took almost two hours. When he actually got to the adjustment part it included one (well two) strange pressures on my neck as I lay on my side, and one lift and crack of my neck. The crack definitely got one of the spots that I am most aware of, but I don’t know yet  if the adjustment has done anything permanently helpful. I understand that his approach is to make small, correct and truly necessary adjustments for long-lasting results.

But I have to admit I miss that immediate sense of release.

I’m still reserving judgment as to which method works better or will ultimately help me find the natural flow that can allow our bodies to help heal themselves. I do believe that we have some of that power inside of us, and that we rely too much nowadays on medicated solutions to our problems. I simply have to give my body time to adjust to the adjustment.

Yesterday I felt like I had too many balls in the air and was about to drop every single one, but I could not refuse to catch any of the new ones thrown my way, even the ones I threw away last May hoping to never see again. I had hoped that my visit to the chiropractor would help me get centered again, both physically and mentally. But today the balls have turned into butterflies and fireflies; Beautiful to watch, but I have even less control over them.

I feel disconnected. My thoughts flit around my head like glittering butterflies in the sun; silent and beautiful, but very delicate and fragile. I cannot focus in on any one of them because it will either fly away or try to blend into its surroundings. I am left with the delicate tingle of dust in the sky.

Fairy dust.

Not that all of my thoughts are positive ones or even negative ones. They are simply firefly thoughts, beckoning me to follow wherever they lead.

Is this disconnect the result of my spine reconnecting? Or do I still need some adjustments made, both mentally and physically?

I guess only time will tell, and a follow up visit to the chiropractor tomorrow.

Or maybe I simply need to sit and watch the figurative fireflies until summer comes and I can reconnect with their real magic. That sounds like the best solution of them all.



Billions and Trillions of Words

Did you ever stop to think about how may words you have been writing or reading since you started blogging? Or the exact number of pages?

Somehow, because of the way blogs get posted, I thought they were short. I mean, I know I have some long posts, but it never really registered how long they were.

Let’s break it down to numbers. On average, recently my posts have been about 1000 words. That is about 3 1/2 pages of text if double spaced and printed in Times New Roman.

Since I’ve started this blog I have written 243 posts. That is roughly 243,000 words or 69, 428 pages.

Think about that. That is approximately how many pages I have written on this blog alone in the past year. I write other places as well.

Now, think about the reading. I try to read some blogs daily. I read e-mails. I read student work. I read news articles or other things that catch my eye. I read plays. I read letters. I read Facebook. I read books. According to Shelfari.com I’ve read 20 books so far in 2011.

That’s a lot of words.

Of course, we can’t forget the comments. More words written and read.

So my book project is going to have to scale down a lot. Whatever shape it takes should be interesting though.

Words, words, words. It’s a good thing I love words, otherwise the numbers would be suffocating.

Screen Shot from savethewords.org

My Blogging Story

Yesterday I wrote about my desire to put this blog into some sort of physical form, not just the virtual one that we all love so much. Some of you commented that this was a great idea, and that I shouldn’t let it be an idea that disappears into the void of good ideas that surrounds us.

I am very grateful for those comments because it helped me really commit to this new project. Thank you, kind readers!

So, I dove in! I began by writing an introduction, which I will share with you here.

(On an academic side note, how “meta” is this? I am blogging, turning the blog into a book, and then posting about writing about the blog. Makes my head spin)

On March 5, 2010 I started a WordPress blog. In this world of technology (of blogging and Tweeter, of Facebook and texting) that may not seem like a momentous event; but for me it would become an event that has truly changed my life in numerous ways.

I started the blog at the encouragement of my friend Sue, who was in a writing group with me and helping me through a really difficult period of my life. I started the blog with the help of my husband Nathan, who researched the various options and said, “I think this is the one for you and I think you should do it.”

I started the blog because I needed a way to write beyond the privacy of my own journals. That, in itself, was terrifying. Putting words out there for the world to see and judge still scares me; but it was something I needed to do. Why? Because . . . I am a writer.

My very first post was pretty lame. I am taking a screen shot of that first post, so you can see the design I chose, as well as my introduction to this adventure:

[Inserted screen shot of my very first post.]

Actually, my first month of posts seem really weak. This blogging journey has had its ups and downs; the moments of eloquence and avid writing where I could not get the words down quickly enough; and the dry spells where ideas and words came out painfully and hesitantly. It wasn’t until January, 2011 when I accepted the challenge of writing a Daily Post that I found my voice and my stride.

241 posts later, on February 19, 2011, I discovered my purpose for writing and my answer the question, “What’s next?” On that fateful day I wrote:

[Inserted a copy of yesterday’s post]

And so it begins. I will not put every post in here. Some of them are not really that important. I will not put posts in chronological order. Rather, I will try to group these together to create a stronger picture and tell the story I wish to tell. I will create a tapestry of words to share with any who care to read it. This is my gift to myself, but also to my daughter and anyone else who comes along and wonders who I was and who I became.

Welcome to my blogging journey. Welcome to my life.

Now, as you can see, I don’t plan on putting every post I’ve ever written into this hard copy journey. Some of them are simply not good enough. But, as I start this project, I’ve already learned a few interesting things that might be helpful to anyone who might consider doing something similar:

  • 241 posts may not be a huge number, but it is huge when you decide to begin sorting through it to find the gems.
  • My tags and categories on the actual blog need to be revised. As I try to create a meaningful form for this “book” I am discovering a story that I didn’t even know I was telling.
  • Blog posts are a lot longer than you think when you print them out or try to reformat them.
  • It will be challenging to write about my blog in one form, and then try to write new posts as well. My first post today was from my writing files because I had no ideas, until I thought about writing this post
  • This project is going to take a lot of time, but in the end it will be worthwhile I think.
  • I keep finding minor errors in older posts, as well as places where I feel like I want to replace images with more appropriate things. So that means I continually bounce back and forth between fixing the actual blog, and formatting and writing the book. Whew!

I do have some questions for you, my readers and blogging friends, that may help me make this project a success. I’d really appreciate some insight.

  1. Where do I start and where do I end? Obviously, if I keep posting as I work on this, then the posts I have available to use will grow as well. What parameters should I use? Should I max at a certain number of posts? Should I stop on the day this project began? Should I make this into numerous books instead of just one?
  2. How would you break down the categories of your blog? How should I break down mine? Right now, my working categories are: Stories of Past Experiences (which has sub-sections), A Woman Grows, In Search of Meaning, and Poetry Speaks. But there are so many more possibilities, I’m not sure. How would you tell your story?

Maybe this project is too big, but I’m going to keep trying. Any thoughts?

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