At some point in the life of a blogger, the question arises: Why? What's the point of all of this, anyway? Isn't this a colossal effort for nothing, really?
For me, the answer has ebbed and flowed to become something altogether different over time. I started at first to invest into that component of myself who is a writer. My husband had been reading a book that said, essentially, that what separates the good from the best in life (in whatever field of endeavor) was about 10,000 hours of practise. I determined then to begin my 10,000 hours and so Joy Is So Yellow was born.
I found that - like most things in life - there is a steep learning curve to be climbed. I go through periods of hating my blog and seriously considering shutting the whole thing down. There have been times when it felt a lot more like work and smacked far less of joy. In those early days, I was loathe to hit the 'publish live' button because I felt I could never be sure the post was quite perfect. Now, I begin to grasp that though these posts are far from that evasive, idyllic state, the perfection part isn't the point. For me, what blogging has mostly done is to help me come to define myself inside my own head as a writer. Writers write, right? And how on earth does one ever cast off the mantle of unpublished without these long, dry early days? I see that I'm wise not to resent these days but instead, to view them as an investment into the Self I hope to grow into being.
I've grown to love the little community that gathers around me here. I'm touched and humbled by the fact that these (for the most part) mysterious people continue to read. The fact that what I've got to say somehow means something to anyone other than my egocentric old self is surprising and lovely and bolstering.
P.S. Can you believe the audacity of me, putting a picture of Jane Austin up to accompany this entry? Me and Jane - we're pretty tight.
I've met a new friend who also allows large chunks of her days to be eaten up by a process that sometimes finds her dazed, bewildered and just a bit stunned at how much time has just somehow escaped her notice. She's a writer. And far cooler than any claim to fame that I could ever hope to bandy about - she's got the very same name as a famous and published author. She good-naturedly tells her - clearly favorite - joke over and over again, asking me if I don't recognize her name because she's so famous. Only the spellings are different. That and the fact that this particular lady is confined to her wheelchair in the senior's home, where she's lost control over her bodily functions.
This lady is a living, breathing, life lesson. We sit together in a room where I do typing for her because her hands have curled in on themselves, making the task very difficult for her. Because she prefers to have the door closed for privacy, we sit together in the tiny space that is her room, breathing in the organic smells her rebellious body persists in creating, despite her own best attempts to wrangle some control into the equation. And as we do, she is dignity Itself. I want to be just like her when it's my turn at this life-stage. We don't comment on the smells rampaging angrily about the room, of course, and though she can't even lift her head comfortably up off her chest, she tells me about her childhood, which is a place in her memories that feels most familiar to her now.
Though she was married for decades and decades and had five pulsating, life-filled children of her own, the Figure of Great Importance now in her thoughts and conversation is her larger-than-life stepfather. She'll talk about him endlessly if you're willing to listen. He - and his superhero-esque shenanigans - is whom she writes about. I learn a lot about him as I re-type the tattered pages telling his story.
I wonder if these twilight people revert back to their childhoods because it was life's happiest time for them or for some other, unrelated reason. Perhaps it's just a bare-bones scientific matter of the newest neuro-pathways degenerating first. I wonder if people shackled with unhappy childhoods revert back to that time in their lives, too. This idea strikes me as being singularly sad.
But this happy, writing, Coca Cola-imbibing woman seems anything but sad. I love that if it is her lot to dwell in a place not the present, hers is a happy place filled with people she loves and admires. She spends her days, crippled but mostly content, doing what she loves behind the privacy of a closed door. People offer her up the dignity of knocking before entering and she is treated well by all who enter.
Before I leave, she asks if I would trouble myself to open up the plastic wrapper on the new mouse pad she's just ordered from a nearby drugstore. She chuckles as she watches me do it because she gets an artless kick out of the fact that on its surface are two kittens who can now play with the computer's mouse. We should all be so lucky to find joy so easily and in such small things.
I've just finished a book by a talented author - Joanne Harris. When I say that she's talented, I don't mean it in a J.K. Rowling sort of way, weaving her interesting plots here and then surprisingly there. Of course I don't want to demean the talents of J.K. Rowling, for I read the Harry Potter series with the best of them, gripped and compulsive about the process, sad when I came to the last of the books because that little world was now closed to me again for a time. That's indisputably talent and uppercase T talent, even, I think.
But here, I'm talking about talented in a word craft sort of way. Joanne Harris (of Chocolat fame) writes books that find me sort of stilled at the end of the reading of them. She writes paragraphs that make me want to go immediately to a keyboard and write for myself, sure that there is something good and deep and important looming up inside of me, needing to make it's way out into the world. With her, writing seems lofty and noble, even. With her, the reading of her writing seems lofty and noble. You feel at the end of one of her books (or at least at the end of Chocolat and Five Quarters of the Orange) that you've been changed in some small, hard-to-define way. But you feel quite certain of that change, nonetheless, though you can't quite identify it.
In short, if you fancy yourself a reader, go out and do what you can to pick up a copy of either Chocolat or Five Quarters of the Orange. I suspect that you'll be very happy you did. As for me, I just picked up Blackberry Wine at a used book store and I feel a looming anticipation for when I can re-enter the artistic machinations of this woman's talented mind once more.
Can you recommend any fantastic books you've read lately? I'd love to hear all about it.
This is a post I've suspected I need to write for some time now. I hate to, though. So very much. In fact, my heart quails at the thought of it. That's because I'm a terrible marketer. However, the fact remains that my dream is to someday become a published author. Those lovely ones of you out there who continue to read these self-centered little meanderings fuel me to keep trying.
Some time ago the JoyBoy mentioned that he thought that when the time comes for me to begin to send out the finished book manuscript, it would help tangibly for me to be able to include the little tidbit to the various would-be publishers that I've somehow-or-other accumulated a blog following. He thought it would be all the more impressive if it were to be a large blog following. Can you hear me cringing here in my kitchen as I type?
The long and short of it is that I was hoping that those of you who find that Joy Is So Yellow adds something meaningful to your lives would consider passing along the internet address and your recommendation to your loved ones. I'd be ever so grateful. The one other thing that I'd ask is that if you're one of those who know who I am in non-cyber life (thanks Facebook!), you'd not mention my real-life identity. I find I'm able to write so much more freely if I know that I'm writing for mostly strangers. It helps me to let 'er rip all the more easily. And don't you want me to be able to let 'er rip?
I'd be so grateful. Thanks for continuing to read. It means a lot to me.
My new project is to experiment with writing. It's something that from the beginning of time (or Grade One, anyway), I've thought I'd someday like to do. I remember telling my little best friend that someday we'd be roommates in university and be teachers together and that I'd write a book. She nodded her head in vigorous agreement and we knew we'd rule the Earth. When you're six, there isn't anything you can't do in your bright, shiny future. You can even be a fairy and woe be unto the adult person who tries to tell you otherwise.
What I'm learning about writing today is that the transition to becoming a writer is a lot like switching from the passenger's to the driver's seat, from the perspective of a voracious reader. Even though you've traveled along those same roads hundreds and maybe even thousands of times before, suddenly when it's your turn to make those same turns and to exit off onto those same byways, everything feels different. You have to pay attention now in a way that you never had to before.
While growing up, my parents owned a lake front property. We spent a tremendous amount of time there, but when I turned 14 (goodness; the thought of a 14-year-old me driving around on public streets stills my modern-day heart.) and it was time for me to sit in the driver's seat for the trip, my Dad was endlessly frustrated because I had no idea how to get there. I didn't have even the vaguest sense, in fact. He couldn't believe anyone could be so dense. And a current, more literary version of that dense 14-year-old is emerging a lot around here of late. Sometimes I can't believe how stupid she can be. Hasn't she read books in abundance ever since she's been able? Surely she's picked up on a literary thing or two in all this time? Hasn't she? Isn't this partly how she's defined herself in her own mind? As a very gung ho reader?
All of a sudden, I realize that I'm unclear as to how to handle dialogue. When I research it, I'm befuddled to note that many authors choose to handle it differently. Standardized rules of grammar don't always seem to apply in modern literature. When I note discrepancies like this, I ask myself, what would Carol Shields do in Stone Diaries? I've loved Carol for decades (She wasn't aware of it during her lifetime, but she and I are on a one sided first name basis). Her other books are good, but when I first finished Stone Diaries, I sat stunned. And uncharacteristically quiet. I felt like this, too, when I read Andrew Nicholl's A Good Mayor. I've been eagerly awaiting his second novel ever since. But I digress. My point is, I'm not always sure how to use quotation marks and in fact, see now that maybe they aren't even all that necessary anymore. Or at least to Miriam Toews and her ilk.
I'm working through a lot of frustration these days. I guess I thought writing would be easier than this. I'm finding out - quite emphatically - that it's not. I'll write for days (my baby-steps goal is to complete one page per weekday) and realize at the end of it that I'm in a hazy fog and I don't even really remember the plot line because of all the meanderings filling up the pages between then and now. I frequently have to go back to re-read things so as to keep it relatively linear. I'm struggling with a whole lot of things that I assumed were non-issues. But for the most part, I think I could really get to like this lifestyle. I like it both more and less than I expected to. It's truly a journey and for the time being, I'm happy it's mine.
Hi You Sweet People,
Every time I look at my stats, I'm wracked by guilt. I am fully aware that I suck in the faithful blogger department. I feel like I'm letting you down, Internet. And you don't deserve that.
I'm going to let you in on a little secret: I'm spending a lot of my time lately trying to put together a little novel of sorts. And there is therefore very little blogging going on in this neck of the woods. Who knows if this little novel will ever go anywhere, but I'm convinced that it's a now-or-never kind of thing. I feel compelled to try. What is it that we're always nattering to our children about the chasing after of one's dreams, afterall? So in the meantime, bear with me and know that I'm sorry. I'll try to update things here every now and then, but in the meantime, I've got rainbows to chase. Here's hoping that they're glittery and smell of vanilla!
I'm reading Sue Monk Kidd's newest book, "Traveling With Pomegranates," and in doing so, I happened upon this impacting little ditty:
"Many years before this, when I first set out to be a writer, I had entertained a dream of writing fiction, then quickly banished it - I thought forever. In the museum that day, I realized the aspiration had never really left, it had merely gone underground to wait its turn. The dream had been turning up recently dressed as whimsy, hope, impulse, and silly conceit. I'd refused to take it seriously. It felt beyond my power and courage, the sort of thing that made me shrink against my pillow late at night. As I stood before the Rossetti painting, however, my desire to write fiction crystallized into a pursuit that I saw as authentic, necessary, and even sacred. I now understood that writing fiction was a seed implanted in my soul, though I would not be ready to grow that seed for a long time."
Can the readership of 40 say wow (by the way, how on earth did I get a readership of 40? Who are you mysterious people?)? I feel simultaneously humbled and empowered when I read this. I think that perhaps, maybe it's not the most audacious thing in the known world to aspire to be a novelist. I feel like something big is maybe ruminating in my soul. I've always felt the gape. The part of me that didn't feel filled. And maybe now it's finally dawning on me that my small, inconsequential voice might have something meaningful to say to the vast world. The burbling, baby excitement is all I can concentrate on just now.