blogging · Hobbies · Writing

The Joy of Writing

Isn’t that a book already? Actually it is – a memoir by Pierre Berton. I hope he gave a tip of the hat to Joy of Cooking author Irma Rombauer for the inspiration.

Expressing yourself

Writing has always been my favorite way of communicating. I like it better than even speaking on the phone to someone. I think better when I’m either putting fingers to a keyboard or setting a pen to paper. It gives me the opportunity to think linearly and logically, when I wish to write non-creatively: pick the topic, add sentences supporting your position or thoughts, give evidence, persuade or inspire.

But I also love playing with words. I was one of those funny kids who loved learning about words in school – where did they come from; how did they get their present shape? When I discovered the Oxford English Dictionary, with its complete etomology of each and every word in the language, I was transfixed. Why do we use certain synonyms? I loved learning all the different flavors of a word. I can hear my friends now saying, why do you have to use the word frank when the word candid will do? Or any of the other synonyms that convey open, sincere, honest, or plainspoken? Because! I’d shake my head – don’t they understand the connotations? Don’t they hear the music of the word? Sometimes you need one, sometimes the other.

How I got started

It was in third grade that we all starting writing stories for our English class each week. Our teacher would give us a topic or question, and we’ll all write a page. (A ‘prompt’ in writers’ jargon.) I’ll never forget one essay I composed: I wish I had a money tree. I kept it for years, along with all my other papers, thus getting a jump start on my lifetime of hoarding books. Looking back at it I was appalled at my sheer greed and sloth: I ended the page saying I would just eat and read all day. Actually, that does sound like my idea of heaven right now!

Later on, I kept writing – both for the high school newspaper and the college paper. The only story from those years I remember is the feature I did on the ducks that lived on the Thomas Cooper Library pond at USC. Later there were freelance articles in newspapers and magazines in Columbia and Savannah. Then I spent two glorious years writing for a small weekly paper, before I went on to be an editor at a daily.

Starting this blog

Over 20 years ago I went corporate, starting by doing communications work. Then I got into the web game, and corporate life became a string of projects, analysis, testing, and usability work. Shortly after completing a masters in 2010, I decided it was time to start a blog so I could write again. At the beginning, it was random day-to-day happenings, more diary than journal or newsletter. And lots of cat pictures.

Fits and starts

I kept it going fairly regularly for about four years; then, life got in the way. Back in 2022 I re-started and did fairly well. But this year: this is the year I’ve dedicated the blog to only four topics, all revolving around my special interests: Books (including writing, literature, and just plain fun reads); my new Keto Journey and my love of cooking (with lots of fun pictures!), and Gardening. I’m dedicated different areas of the top navigation to those categories, and I’ll be blogging more frequently on each topic.

Next up: Masterclass

My newest strategy: taking lessons from some of the world’s best. My membership in Masterclass is giving me access to some best-selling authors. I want to explore how do they handle the problems of fleshing out a character in fiction? How do they write compelling openings, that draw a reader in and make them want to spend time with the people in the book? When you’re reading, it’s as if you’re entering that character’s world, or as if you’ve invited that character to come over to your house, sit on your couch and chat for a while. How can I make people want to spend time with my characters? So off to Masterclass I go. Now, my biggest question – do I choose Judy Blume‘s or Amy Tan‘s class? Or perhaps Neil Gaiman? Good thing the membership is for a year. I can and will do all three.

blogging · Hobbies · Introspection · me

Goals Set, Goals Missed, Goals Set Again

I’m only two weeks into restarting my blog and I’ve already missed my first goal: publish at least twice a week. I even have 16 different blog topics started in various drafts. And I set up thrice-weekly reminders on my phone to post. Yet still – offline for a week!

I’m going to treat this blog the way I’m treating my successful (so far) diet: a slip doesn’t mean it’s all over. I just get back up and get back to the goal.

To paraphrase fictional heroine Bridget Jones: if it is true that success is the progressive realization of a worthwhile dream, then that is the definition of a diet. I don’t have the energy to shoehorn that into a blogging metaphor as I’ve been up since before 5, but I like the quote.

(At 9 p.m. my eyelids are falling shut in spite of me. Yes, I need to re-arrange my writing schedule and write when I am fresh, in the morning. I’ll start that Wednesday.)

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to get the last of my “personal” topics out of the way – nine of my 16 remaining drafts are related to personal thoughts. And then, after that’s out of the way (in four and a half weeks if I stick to my twice-a-week schedule, less if I post more) then I’m going to turn this blog to what I really want to focus on: in-depth look at the hobbies that I’ve come to love over the pandemic, and two that’s been with me all my life. I’ll be focusing first on three areas: Books, Gardening, and Writing. I’ve been a bookworm all my life. Growing up, if I loved a book, you could usually tell because either a) the book covers were read to pieces, b) it had a tomato stain on a page from a pizza slice I munched as a read, or c) I read it so much I had it memorized and was quoting parts to you. (Ask my dad about how I recited parts of Erma Bombeck’s “At Wit’s End” from memory.) I’ve loved writing ever since third grade, when our teacher had us write short stories every week. Part of my career was working in journalism, and I’ve saved a few clips from along the way. And thanks to COVID, and the big backyard I have now, I’ve been doing more gardening than ever.

Come along with me for a look at my favorite books, what I’m planting in my gardens and my latest writing. (That’s after I finish emoting in those nine personal posts!) As I’ve learned from my latest diet – you need to bundle a reward with a chore to increase your chances of success. Once I can sustain my regular posting schedule for four weeks, I’m going to treat myself to a new logo for the blog.