Seasonal Blogging Disorder

I don’t know about you, but I am finding it difficult to blog lately. I’m not just talking about difficulty finding things to write about, although that is true as well. I don’t even feel like reading any of the fabulous blogs that I follow. Perhaps I have been doing it too long, or the heat of the summer has completely fried my brain making me unable to focus on the wit and witticism of my favorite bloggers. When I do read, I struggle to make any kind of intelligible comment. I find myself surfing through blog posts without commitment, or simply erasing them from my inbox blaming it on a weak internet connection which cuts into my time online. (To be fair to myself, I do have spotty internet on the lot and have to seek  alternative locations to get any real work done.)

This sun is from Okoboji Summer Theatre (my summer “home”) so I thought I would borrow it to represent the heat (as well as the drama) that has fried my brain.

I am a summer blogging slacker.Perhaps the amount of ice cream I have been eating to combat the oppressive summer heat has seeped into my brain and turned it into a receptacle of pure sugar and fat, incapable of actually communicating in an intelligible way.

Not that I pay attention to stats (HA!) but it does seem that overall the summer months include a drop of readership. Then again, I haven’t been publishing as many blogs and perhaps my quality has dropped as of late, so I could simply have lost readers. Is this lag a result of the season or a reflection on me and my blog?

It also seems that more of my blogging buddies have disappeared this summer. Perhaps they are simply out enjoying life, soaking in the heat of the sun or relaxing on a cool boat. Many of them have been taking vacations in exotic locations and/or having fabulous staycations in the comfort of their own homes and gardens.

So perhaps the laziness of blogging is simply a symptom of summer.

It’s easier to laze around than blog.

I hope that if and when the weather ever cools, turning toward my favorite time of year (the fall) I will overcome this sluggishness and find my way back to reading, writing, and commenting with enthusiasm and verve.

My apologies to all of you zillions of people who have noticed my lackadaisical approach to blogging this summer. (Who am I kidding, I’m sure many of you are thinking “Lisa who? Didn’t even miss her.”) Also, some of you might have noticed and been offended by my removal of the Blogs I Follow section. I found that it was a mess, as people’s blogs change , so I decided that for the time being I would remove it and make every effort to mention wonderful blogs within the bodies of my posts.

Of course, that requires reading more blogs and writing more posts. Sigh.

Does anyone else suffer from Seasonal Blogging Disorder? Is there a cure?

Call Me Crazy, But . . .

I’m starting another Blog!

Yes, I know, I’m insane, but not really. The other day a college put out a call for on-line resumes and portfolios for theatre artists interested in doing some freelance work for the coming academic year. I sort of have something set up at LinkedIn and Behance, and I added some things and perfected them to the best of my ability before sending off an e-mail.

[Should I be worried that I never got a reply back? Hm, let it go, Lisa . . . let it go.]

I was not completely satisfied, however, with the results. The format doesn’t say much about me. It doesn’t integrate all the complexities of the work that I do. So, I knew that I wanted a better on-line portfolio somehow.

Yesterday, at a fun and fabulous Memorial Day barbeque, somehow we got into discussing job searches and the need for an on-line portfolio. The discussion was really about one of my former students who designed the fabulous costumes for the production of Peggy the Pint-Sized Pirate presented by my Theatre for Young Audience class a few weeks ago.

You’ve got to love the baby sea monster.

Bethany said, “I know, I know, I have to start some sort of website.”

One of her friends said, “Use WordPress, its easy and has a lot of great options for portfolios.”

Ding Ding Ding!

D’oh!

Now why didn’t I think of that?

Now the advantage to this is that I don’t intend for this new blog to become a daily habit, or to replace Woman Wielding Words. Once I get it up to date (which may take me a while) I will only update it to add new projects and so on. It will be a blog to keep my work/creative history in order, but not a blog filled with as much randomness as this blog.

I’m still debating on whether or not I should enable comments on that blog. What do you think?

Don’t worry, I don’t expect you all to follow me over there or anything, but I would love feedback if you are interested. Of course, right now it is in the beginning stages so there is not much to see, but if you feel like wandering over I’d love to see you at The Creative Portfolio of Lisa Kramer

Just don’t call me crazy! 😉

Let’s Take Over Freshly Pressed

I admit that I stopped regularly reading Freshly Pressed a long time ago. Partially as a time-saving measure, partially because I have so many fabulous blogs to follow that I barely have enough  time to read them all, and partially because of a few too many Freshly Pressed posts that I personally thought were poorly written and uninteresting.

Yet that page still dangles before me.

I had managed to push Freshly Pressed out of my line of sight, focusing on writing posts I could be proud of and trying to keep up with all the fabulous posts I want to read each day, while (hopefully) contributing comments that helped me grow as a writer and a member of the community. While my blog hasn’t grown hugely, a few new friends join me every once in a while, and I have found some wonderful new blogs to follow myself. Once in a while an FP headline jumps out at me, and I wander over for a look, but for the most part I have been content with my quiet little circle of WordPress universe.

However, recent events have brought Freshly Pressed back into focus.

Perhaps it started when Jim Chaney, over at the Wordslinger had his (I believe third) Freshly Pressed post picked, called “Stop! In the Name Of . . . Terrible Baby Names”. Now, don’t get me wrong, I think Jim’s post was fabulously funny, and all the posts that he has written that went on to Freshly Pressed fame were wonderful. But, if (as I thought) FP is selected somewhat randomly, why then do some bloggers get an overabundance, and others get zilch, nada, zip–including posts that really should have their moment to shine?

A couple of days ago I wrote a post about the success of a program I started last spring, and linked to one of my original posts about the program. The fabulous Kathryn McCullough, who loved the original post from the beginning, wrote this:

That led to a Facebook discussion with another blogger about some of the (possible) secrets of Freshly Pressed. I will not go into details here.

I pushed the question into the back of my mind for a while, until I read Kathy’s fabulous post yesterday called, “Top 10 Reasons to Join the Bloggy Blast”. Kathryn has written numerous posts that should be read by millions of readers. This one was timely, as I sink into questioning “why bother” and wondering where all this writing and blogging is even taking me. Her post reminded me of the unexpected rewards of joining and maintaining a blogging community. At the same time, she brought into clear focus the ever-present shadow of Freshly Pressed, by writing

“It used to be that writers and artists gathered at literal locations like the Algonquin Round Table during the 1920s.  Today bloggers gather at a place likeFreshly Pressed—present the best of their work and hone their craft.  I may have felt honored to have my work featured on Freshly Pressed, but more importantly, a forum like Freshly Pressed offers examples of excellent work that other bloggers can strive to emulate.  It demonstrates what works.  It shows us how to be better writers, stronger photographers, more daring and accomplished artists.”

Freshly Pressed came back to my radar.

So I wrote an e-mail.  I made a suggestion. Here is an excerpt of what I wrote:

. . . I began wondering if there was a way to make FP more representative of the true quality of work out there. Many times I have read posts that deserve a broader audience, either for the quality of writing, the beauty of the images, or the importance of the message (or some combination of the three). Yet those posts rarely get recognition (although I have indeed called it a few times). Would it be possible to add a NOMINATE FOR FRESHLY PRESSED BUTTON to all posts, with guidelines like: You can only nominate 1 post a day; you cannot nominate yourself (otherwise you will be inundated with bloggers who just want attention); posts must contain original images or appropriate accreditation of sources; and so on (you know best).

I know that doing this would mean you would have tons of posts to sort through, but it would also give some attention to bloggers who are really creating work worthy of their fifteen minutes of fame and fortune (Ha! Ha!).  I also think it would strengthen FP and the  WordPress Community.

And here is the response:

“Thanks so much for taking the time to share your suggestion with us — it’s a fantastic idea! The idea has come up before, and although it isn’t currently on our to-do list, it’s certainly on our radar.

In the mean time, feel free to pass on nominations to editor@wordpress.com

Happy blogging,

Erica
Story Wrangler
WordPress.com | Automattic

So let’s do it. Let’s start sending her nominations for those stories that we feel truly should reach broader audiences. I’m not talking about our own egos here, where we claim our own writing is the most glorious thing in the universe and dangle even the most mediocre piece in front of her eyes. NO! I mean, let’s be thoughtful and nominate posts we read that we think deserve a little moment in the light of the wider blogging universe.

Of course, there should be some sort of criteria. Some of the things that make a post stand out for me, and make me wish others would read it too, include:

  • quality writing and/or images
  • a message that speaks to a wide audience
  • a message that needs to be heard
  • a post that makes you think or feel, whether that feeling is laughter or tears
  • truth and honesty
  • a post that doesn’t try too hard
  • . . .

What about you? What are your criteria for a post that you think should be Freshly Pressed?

I am not saying inundate them with nominations, but lets be thoughtful and really try to promote each other’s best work.  I nominated someone today. I won’t tell you who unless my nomination turns into success.

Anyone want to join me in taking over Freshly Pressed?

UPDATE

It works!!!! The blog I nominated was Kathy’s wonderful post which got Freshly Pressed today (April 17) !!!  They even sent me an e-mail to let me know. Can I have a WOO HOO!

I’m Back . . . Sort Of

I told you I just needed a tiny break.

I know, you’ve barely missed me, especially since I kind of posted anyway and even managed a couple of comments here and there. But I didn’t spend the whole day reading posts, writing posts, and commenting on posts. I read all of your wonderfully kind comments to me, and I truly appreciate every one of them. I just needed a little time to clear my head.

Even now, I approach the keyboard with hesitation, as I’m not sure what words will pour out or what I even want to say. I’m not blocked . . . it’s not that. I think I’m more overwhelmed by this community, by the complexities of our world, by all the transitions that have been happening in my life for the past three years, by amazing writers and friends like Mark and Vicky who are on their own journey of struggle right now and who I wish I could help but I don’t know how.

So I stopped. Just for a couple of days I stopped. I focused on finding movies to help me cry (only partially successful). I tried to sleep. I wrote in my morning pages. I spent time with my family. I tried not to stress about finding work or creating a meaningful life all over again. I tried not to feel alone.

I both succeeded and failed.

For several nights now I’ve had dreams too complicated to describe, but all with a common message that no matter how hard I tried I would never belong. Now, I know that’s not true, but I can’t help what my subconscious tries to feed me.

So this morning I woke up and completely melted down, at least partially. I held it together for Sarah. I almost held it together for Nathan. Then I cried, a little.

Finally, I went to help at the library at Sarah’s school, and that centered me. From there, I decided going home was a bad choice, so I took myself on an adventure to find a bookstore that I’ve been meaning to find. It turned out to be only so-so, but at least I broke my routine.

 I sat in the little cafe at the bookstore and tried to focus. Then I got an Facebook note from a young friend of mine, asking for my opinion as mentor and educator.  At first I didn’t want to deal with it, because it was on a topic that I’ve discussed with her before, but then I answered anyway. Through answering her question, I remembered myself as a talented mediator and mentor. I finished her answer and wrote a Hub called “Battling Depression in a World Gone Mad”.

You might wonder why I wrote it as a Hub rather than a post here. I had to approach it more as an observer–an observer of myself. I feel like here I can write with my more personal voice, and their I try to sound more logical. I’m much more comfortable writing here, but I had to analyze my thoughts there before I could share my thoughts here. Does that make sense?

So, I guess I’m back. Thank you all for your kindness and patience as I work my way into joy. Your thoughts helped a lot.

And now, a few moments of quiet beauty I found outside my back door after I got home.

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Butterflies in the Head

The other day I read a post at Broadside expressing frustration at the number of posts out there where we complain about having writer’s block.  I am guilty of it myself on numerous occasions.

This is not one of those posts. I do not have writer’s block, as I proved to myself yesterday by writing a post about books, a Hub about multi-tasking, and a guest post for The Idiot Speaketh. Today, I’ve already written two rather long-winded e-mails (sorry A.Hab). 😛

No, I currently have a disease that is the complete opposite of writer’s block, which I am calling Butterflies in the Head.

Each butterfly represents an idea, a thought, a word, an image, a story. If I focus too long on one, however, it flits away and another one moves into view. I cannot capture their fleeting beauty.

So today I thought that I might share some butterflies, with the hope that, by putting them on the page I might clarify my focus and find the most magical one of all. Please bear with me as my mind flies with the butterflies, and then comment below on the topic you would like to see me pursue more deeply.

  • Unless you live in a cave with no access to the internet (which means you wouldn’t be blogging) you heard about the passing of Steve Jobs, and most likely have seen the quote I’ve posted below that speaks volumes to my current life journey. I wonder, however, what my intuition is saying, as sometimes it is muffled by the sound of butterfly wings.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” ~ Steve Jobs

  • This morning, as I was writing my Morning Pages, Sarah bounced into my bed with her “journal” and asked me to read what she wrote about her dreams. Recently she has really embraced reading and writing, and that excites me.  In Bird by Bird Anne Lamott suggests that writer’s should write a book as a gift. Perhaps I need to start a project as a gift to my daughter.
  • Of course, a long time ago I had intended to turn this blog into a book as a gift for Sarah. Should I do that? The concept of that sounds overwhelming.
  • Am I selling my soul trying to write for gain on HubPages? Or am I wasting my time?
  • How do I create the career I want?
  • Even though I am all for freedom of speech, there is a line that can be crossed when someone starts spouting vitriol and libel. We all know what I am referring to. Yet, WordPress will not ban this person from this site.  Why do we allow haters and those with the loudest voices to continue to control society in the name of freedom?
  • I think I need to revisit The Story Teller and The Moon Calls to expand them somehow.
  • Puppets, Nathan wants a show with puppets!

Okay, that’s enough. My butterfly list can go on forever. Yet I still can’t seem to focus. Perhaps I will be able to as I let this post sink in. Thanks for being patient with my babbling butterflies.

I will now leave you with this lovely song I found by an artist called Blossomhead. Enjoy:

 

The Highs and Lows of Blogging

I have a disturbing confession to make. It appears that I write better when I am high.

Only kidding. You didn't really think I meant that, did you?

😀

Seriously, I’ve been struggling with a lot of back pain lately, and since I can’t get to the doctor or the chiropractor until our health insurance kicks in, I resorted to taking some of my leftover prescription medicine from the last time my back hurt this much. The combination of a muscle relaxant and a pain-killer leaves me in a fuzzy state of being that can only be described as la-la land.

It was in this state that I decided to write my post from yesterday, exploring the etiquette of blogging. I have had more comments and compliments on that post than on any other post I have ever written.

Of course, the delicious high of feeling like I wrote something worthy led to an immediate case of writer’s block from the complete and utter fear that I would fall flat on my face in my next attempt to write a post.

I avoided writing one all day (well avoided writing on WordPress, I did actually write something for my Hub) spending time answering comments and editing the book I am still hoping to self publish, while ordering things to help me with one job and making a feeble attempt at further job hunting.  (Feeble because I am not sure what my next step should be).

Through all of this my back was a dull ache and I avoided medicating, until about an hour ago when a spasm left me toddling for a supportive cane and some of my helpful pills. Now, back in the land of fuzzy brain, I felt inspired to make an attempt at another post.

Knowing of course that what goes up must come down, and that my moment of brilliance has passed.

Oh well, it was nice while it lasted.

Revealing My Strengths

My commitment and search to reinvent myself has begun more seriously now. I’m taking steps toward earning a living, creating employment, and understanding myself better so that I am not just doing a job but embracing living and working in the most fulfilling way possible. I’m not going to go into too many details here, as one of the steps I took in this direction involves writing post for HubPages, a place where I could potentially earn some money off of my words.  I wrote my first post there today. Check it out.

Don’t worry though, WordPress is my first blogging home, and this community is very important to me. This the place where I can write, and explore, and dream, and vent, and complain. This is the place where I laugh and cry, and share all of the craziness of my life. This is the place where I have made friends and connections that have given me the courage to take this bizarre journey that I am on, a journey into finding my strengths and creating a life full of joy.

What exactly are these strengths, you wonder?  Well, this morning I took the on-line survey from Strengths Finder, to find some eerily accurate descriptions of myself. I’ve only skimmed the surface of what the analysis has to say, but to break it down in a few bullets, some of my strengths include:

  • Thinking and discussing ideas with others.
  • Being innovative and facing challenges creatively.
  • Learning new things and searching out the knowledge I need to successfully (and creatively) face my challenges.
  • Willingness to work hard, but apparently I work harder when I get recognition for the work I do. (I’m not sure this is true, but I do know that I get frustrated when I have worked hard and get no recognition).
  • Gathering information and reading.
  • Apparently I have some skill with words and writing. (Tee hee hee)

So what does all this mean? I have no idea yet, but it is an interesting journey.

 

Tomorrow I should have regular access to the internet so I will be back to commenting and responding to your comments. I’ve missed you all!

A Brief Note of Thanks

A quick thank you to Terry at The Incredible Lightness of Seeing who gave me some blogging awards yesterday. I am honored to receive (again) the Versatile Blogger (the image is posted on the right if you would like to see it) as well as two other awards:

Of course, while I am grateful to be recognized I also find a little of the humor in this. For example, I don’t think I’ve ever been described as stylish. I certainly create my own style in everything I do. And, of course, I cannot resist the sweet blog award because I am unable to resist sweets of any form in my life. Well, that’s not true. I’ve been really good lately resisting dessert, so now I will gracefully accept the yummy picture.

Should I be concerned, however, that Terry wrote this as a description of my blog?

“to the ranting of Lisa https://lisawieldswords.wordpress.com/about/ whose blog catapulted me into the postaday2001″

I hope I don’t just rant. But, maybe that is my true talent, a rant a day. 😉

As usual, I am going to break the rules somewhat (although I’m not clear about what the rules are for this one). I am not going to list 7 random facts about myself. Why? Because if you want to learn things about me, read my blog. I write from my truth. Even the few pieces of fiction scattered throughout this blog contain elements of my truth. If there is something specific you would like to know, just ask, either in a comment or send me an e-mail.

I have some favorite bloggers that I have given awards to before, so I’m not going to do that again. Instead I am going to pass this on to a few blogs that I have only discovered recently but enjoy visiting for a variety of reasons.

  • Visit Spread Information where the writers (there are several, and they welcome more contributors) show versatility in topics and style, writing posts that make you laugh or make you think (So the Versatile Blogger award is fitting). Yesterday’s post by Madeline Laughs reminded me of the joy of giving and receiving thoughtful gifts because someone cares, not because of the time of year. It was truly a sweet post. And, their layout is classy and stylish. Truly a site worthy of these three awards.
  • jgavinallan mostly posts fiction and poetry, so I haven’t really had time to delve into the work. (I find it takes more time to read people’s fiction posts for some reason). But, Jaye never fails to make sweet comments on people’s blogs and what I have read so far is fabulous.
  • I literally found Julia’s Blog, Wordsxo a few days ago. But, I am so impressed by her writing and her insightful comments. I look forward to exploring her blog more thoroughly, and hope she accepts this honest award. I think many of you will enjoy and understand her post about writing in the summer from yesterday, as many of us seem to be struggling to find balance this summer. Go, read, enjoy and celebrate her awards.

So there you have it folks . . . another round of awards. I understand if the recipients choose to do nothing with them, but at the same time I hope you will visit these blogs and share the love.

Sometimes You Have to Sit in a Coffee Shop

I like the song playing softly in the background and makes me feel grounded. Yes, the lyrics distract me a little as I sing in my head, but I love sitting in a coffee shop that plays music that I like. I only wish I had a cushy chair to sit in, but at least I have a coffee shop to go to.

I have been struggling with accomplishing anything today. It is partially the remnants of the evil crud that took over my life last week, partially the fact that suddenly my life has become busier than I planned in an overwhelming way, and partially the feeling that I have no ideas right now.

I was hoping to hang out in one of my new places of inspiration, a small art studio owned by a friend of mine, but she wasn’t there. I didn’t want to go home, because I would have to leave again in less than an hour to pick up Sarah. Sometimes home feels like a cage, especially this home that does not feel like home.

So I headed to the lone coffee shop in town.

I’m not going to lie and say and say that ideas poured into me as I sipped my hot chai latte and stared at my computer. That would be the dream. But the reality is interesting too, at least to me.

In typical fashion, because of my addiction to WordPress and e-mail (Hello, my name is Lisa and I am a blogging addict), the first thing I did was plug in my computer and checked my e-mail. Much to my surprise I found an e-mail from our realtor with an actually pretty decent offer on the property that has been hanging around our necks like a brick. I don’t want to jinx it and we still need to discuss, but compared to the crap offer we got last week, things are looking up.

Then I thought about where I write best. Sometimes I write best at home at my desk. But that was when my computer wasn’t portable. Now I have my cute purple mini Dell which travels everywhere with me, so that is no excuse. Sometimes I write best in a journal, but I haven’t done that for a long time. Sometimes I write best in the middle of the night, when I should be sleeping. Sometimes I write best in total silence, sometimes with noise. There is no regularity to when I write best–except one.

Coffee shops.

When I was working on my dissertation (for those of you who many not remember, I actually am Dr. Lisa or Lisa Kramer , Ph.D.) I followed this pattern. I didn’t have the portable computer then, so I would sometimes write at school on yellow pads and then transfer over, but usually I typed directly into the computer. Sometimes I would write in silence, sometimes I put reruns of MASH on because they wouldn’t distract me but made me feel less alone.

After facing the torture of the screen, I printed out the chapters and headed to a local coffee shop. I took over a table and edited, revised, scribbled, ripped apart only to return again to the computer. Why a coffee shop instead of a library? I needed to feel like I was connected with humanity. I needed to feel that there was a world out there, beyond theory and words, beyond analysis and interpretation. I needed music in the background and murmured conversations that only distracted if they were truly juicy, and then I would take a little break.

So today, I headed to the coffee shop in the hopes of finding inspiration. I don’t know if I’ve found it. But now I’m writing this rambling post.

Sometimes you just have to sit in a coffee shop.

Q is for Quitting

From Natalie Dee

I am a quitter.

I quit.

I am quitting!

You may notice a missing button on my blog today because I am officially quitting the Post A Day 2011 challenge.

Call me quitter if you want, but I think it is the right thing to do.

Why, you ask? For a number of reasons which I will now share:

  • Sure it has helped me commit to daily writing. But about the only daily writing I am doing is the posts. Have I started any new projects? No. Have I focused on any of the projects I already started? No. Have I gotten my book published? No. Have I written query letters or books proposals? No. (Although I have done some letter writing and other writing for work).
  • If you look at my Tag cloud, the tag that stands out is Postaday2011. I don’t really want to be a blog known for posting. I want to be someone who posts about art and education, about life and people, about creativity and imagination, about concerns and dreams. I want people to visit me because they think I have interesting things to say; and that I say things in interesting ways.
  • As I read comments on other people’s posts who seem to be struggling with Post a Day, I’ve come to question the commitment. Was this challenge started to help us find our voices or to help WordPress boost its numbers? I don’t want to obsess about numbers anymore. Yes, I would like to be able to, someday, make a living with my writing. But the chances of me being discovered because I have a zillion hits on my blog (which I don’t but I actually am approaching 10,000) are probably a zillion to one. The only way I am ever going to get published and paid for that work is to actually work on projects that people want to pay for.
  • That doesn’t mean I’m giving up blogging. I’ve discovered something wonderful here. I’ve discovered a group of friends. I’ve discovered a joy in the diversity of ideas and the exchange of support. I want to continue to build those relationships and grow from this sharing of ideas, thoughts, memories and dreams. But I don’t want to do this because I committed to a challenge that I’ve moved beyond. I want this relationship to grow because it is really a relationship, and because I have something to say that someone wants to read, and vice versa.
  • I may even quit the A to Z challenge, but there are only 9 letters left, so I may consider that a writing assignment and keep going. It depends on how I feel tomorrow.

So there you have it folks. I am officially a quitter, but I’m okay with that.

Anyone care to join me?

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