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Talking to Myself

It occurs to me, that for all people love to tell me how much they adore my writing, very few people say the words publicly. In a medium like this, there’s plenty of scope for personal comments on a particular entry (especially if you know or suspect it’s about yourself) but… even my real-life friends don’t really comment, here.

It’s okay. I’m not talking about the majority of them anyway… most of my friends, they give me as much as I give them, and I couldn’t in good conscience ask them to obsess over my life the way I do. I mean, this is the whole proof of why I’m a good writer: like the song says, I could write it better than you ever felt it. But reading the story and being amused or interested is not the same as having enough emotional investment to comment on it–it didn’t happen to them, it happened to me, and only I *should* care enough to write about it.

This always happens to me, eventually. I talk and talk in an empty room, and wonder why it’s only my own voice I hear, echoing back at me. This is largely the reason for my recent spurt of doing things: karaoke, ballroom dancing, song parodies, trying to get into a brick university, trying to set up a YouTube channel with mates… I know I have to do these things in front of people, for them to comment; and this blog is more or less a dirty secret, I certainly don’t post it on my Facebook Wall or anything, I don’t *try* to get everyone to look at it.

I can’t escape the fact that some things, I have been trying to get people to look at, though. In some areas of my life, I’m giving a good impression of being downright extroverted–and still, no one’s paying attention.

What if I did *this* more openly, and no one noticed it, either? Then what would I have to offer the world?

Nothing. Out of all the things I think I can maybe do, this is the one I’m best at. If people don’t care about my writing….? I got nothin’.

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On the Pros and Cons of Being AmandaQuirky

I’m sure this is the case for most of us here, but I’m just gonna come out and say it:

This is not my first blog.

Oh, sure, it’s my first blog where I’ve come out, mask off, and used the online handle that’s been “me” for… 10 years, now?… but as far as spraying my innermost thoughts into the Wild Wild Web goes, this is not my first rodeo. And the other day, a friend asked me about this (whether or not I have older writing online, where it can be found, etc) and it got me thinking about why I *am* going by such a traceable, easily identifiable version of myself, here.

After all, I write plenty of things that are inflammatory. I come from a close-knit family of very sincere, mostly straitlaced Pentecostals and, on the other side, Baptists; and I think it’s fair to say I’m relatively liberal, in my own leanings. As far as God goes, He and I have an understanding; I understand Him as something altogether different from what I was raised to perceive Him as, and He takes me as I am because, well, He’s God. It’s sort of the cornerstone of who He is and what He does… or so *I* choose to believe. But around my folks, I do try to keep my more unusual beliefs to myself. This is not out of shame or concern for what they’ll think of me (half of them already hide my Facebook profile from their Newsfeed anyway) but because, what’s the point? No one’s mind was ever changed because someone shouted opposing ideas loudly enough–and dare I say, in the case of religious fundies, even a rational, factually-supported debate is unlikely to do much. That all being the case, why *would* I rabbit on about my beliefs in front of them? Unlikely though it may seem, I’m not in the habit of alienating people for shits and giggles… I just seem to do it naturally.

In which case, why be so open with this blog? Why use mine and my family’s real names (given names, rather than surnames–but even so) and why have actual pictures of myself on the blog, and why use a handle that people I’ve not spoken to in 5 years would probably recognize as me? It was in thinking about my old blog, that I gave myself the answer.

This is a way to hold myself accountable. And if that fails, the people who truly know me, who love me because of or in spite of all my flaws, can hold me accountable. I’m trying not to advertise information in this medium that would actually lead to me and mine being less safe; but I’m trying to put in plenty that will make me recognizable enough, that if I start to go off the rails and rant like a deranged housewife with too much time on my hands, people who matter will see it, and call me on it, and stop me from embarrassing and/or shaming myself.

My last blog fell down, on that point; I began it in the lead-up to getting divorced (or it feels like that’s when I started it–I was planning divorce long before it happened) and at points, the blog is just the mindless, angry rantings of a woman who’s both a misanthrope and, particularly, a misandrist. SO MUCH of that blog is just a hate-letter to my now-ex-husband, or to friends who let me down (or so I perceived it) the first time I really tried to leave him… I don’t want to find myself reading that kind of ill-reasoned, unnecessary, just plain unhelpful vitriol ever again, and especially not from my own mouth (hand, brain, whatever). This, this being so much myself so everyone can see me and know me AS myself, is a safety measure, to make sure that doesn’t happen again.

Of course, I do have to cut myself a little slack, in that I was suffering from untreated depression/anxiety AND the sort of marriage in which each party is, at least occasionally, abusive to the other; that situation is unlikely to happen again, and so maybe, I’m in no danger of the kind of (crazed?) writing that, when I look back at it, makes me cringe and even blush. On the other hand, I’ve come off my meds more than once, in the past 3-4 years (how long have I been taking them…?) and so, one more safety precaution is probably not a terrible idea. Better safe than sorry, it can’t hurt even if it doesn’t help, etc etc. Plus, I’m just generally trying to hold myself accountable in all aspects of my life… why not do it here, as well?

Of course, this is all going to bite me on the ass when I *do* write something I should’ve kept to myself, and I wind up getting the virtual equivalent of hate mail from people I’ve known and loved all my life… but that’s just par for the course, for me. After all, it’s not so much that I’m forever marching to the beat of a different (tactless, occasionally brutal, often scatter-brained) drummer… Baby, I am the literal drumbeat itself. And all discussions of accountability aside… I couldn’t march to another rhythm if I wanted to.

Which I don’t.

Accountability and being myself it is, then… and whatever price I have to pay for that, it can’t be as bad as rereading my old blog. That shit gets more humiliating every time I do it.

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How’s It Hangin’?

This is just me, dropping by my own blog, trying to see if anyone even bothers to read it anymore… from what I gather, this blogging malarkey is intense and somewhat competitive, and an absence of *months* is generally not to be tolerated.

I say to you–along with all the other mothers who do this–it was the summer holidays. Anyone who can look after 2 (autistic) kids 5 days a week, for all the hours of the day and night, while the kids are off school, and still have time to update their blog regularly, is a better (more organized, anyway) person than I. I salute you; but I will not even attempt to emulate you. That way lies madness.

No, really. Trying to blog during this last summer… I mean… things got a little crazy anyway. My kids are wonderful; but I’m pretty sure *I’m* not, and I certainly wasn’t by the end of this summer. There was more than one day where I lost my temper over nothing, just because I hadn’t had enough alone time; my eternally patient partner, Douglas, was less than patient by the time I, for example, smashed a coffee cup because he emptied it (it had water in it; I was going to be USING the water, in just a little while; how could he throw away a third of a cup of WATER THAT I MIGHT BE ABOUT TO USE???). That was right at the end of the summer (as in, the kids were actually back at school, when I did that–yes, I mostly manage to contain my hmm-my-dad-IS-bipolar-should-I-be-concerned style rages to times when my kids are NOT present). I’m not proud that Douglas bears the brunt of my bat-shit crazy moments, but… I’ll admit to some small satisfaction, in not freaking my kids out with my crazy. Anyways, moving on.

Things are much more settled, now. I’m getting back into my old sleeping pattern, not that it’s a good one (it’s a quarter to 2 in the morning; I’ll probably get 3 hours of sleep tonight, and another 3 or 4 tomorrow while the kids are at school); the kids are actually in a better routine than they’ve enjoyed in years (2 nights this week, they’ve been asleep before midnight–I don’t even have the words); and Douglas is… well… he works too much, but hey, someone’s got to bring home the proverbial bacon. It’s not likely to be me, is it? I didn’t even manage to sign up for university, this year.

And more on that later, I’m sure… for now, I’m off to either daydream about OR actually write, some stuff (another endless novel attempt… my 15th attempt or so, since I was, well, 15 or so?). Wish me luck, send me good vibes, tell me to get stuffed and write the damn thing, whatever you like 🙂 for now, I’m back in business, ish.

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Wasted Potential?

I suppose it all comes down to this: I didn’t expect that there would be so many things I wanted to do. Or I did… but I just thought I’d magically have the time and energy and perseverance to do them all, AND raise (at least 2) children. I did not foresee the way things have turned out, even as I orchestrated them, sometimes willingly, sometimes less so, through my own actions and choices and lack of (well-thought-out) plans.

I like to say I’m an Ideas Manda (get it?); and that, to some extent, is true. Certainly I generate a greater number of grandiose ideas than realistic plans to get them to fruition… but the older I get, the more I suspect that I don’t have the *ability* to get them to fruition. I typically think faster than I can reason; my thought processes are a combination of talking to myself, contradicting myself, and wild brainstorming, more often than a calm, reflexive reasoning things through.

And sometimes, that works so well. If I’m writing a short story (or another failed attempt at a novel…) for the first few pages or chapters, it is the sheer energy (as opposed to the quality) of my thoughts that carries the writing. Don’t get me wrong–I’m not a terrible writer, particularly when I’m really trying–but I’m lazy. My words spill out everywhere, on the page if I’m typing, into the air if I’m talking, and out of the free-flowing jumble of grammar and syntax and subject and predicate, eventually, one or two excellent sentences emerge. Those sentences, and the passion behind them, is usually enough to hook you in.

When I’m on, I’m SO on. And when I’m beginning something, I am invariably ON.

But–in the absence of the necessary proper previous planning, usually sooner and sometimes later–whatever I’m trying to say just disintegrates in front of me. I watched a movie the other day (“Being Flynn”–you should watch it, it’s good) where the narrator/main character describes his father’s book as a masterpiece for the first 30 pages, after which, “like his life, it falls apart…” (rough quote).

Even as I heard it, and felt it resonate with me, I didn’t have to wonder why. I’m self-aware enough to recognize myself in SUCH stark description, at least.

There is one saving grace, though. One thing makes me think that maybe, just maybe, I have a chance of finishing something decent.

I have never written 3 pages of a masterpiece, let alone 30. There’s some good material, some cute phrasing, and with a little spit and polish, maybe an alright book, somewhere in my ideas. At any rate, as my scribbles aren’t starting out at the lofty heights of literary greatness, at least when they drop, it’s not a fatal fall.

Maybe if I can spread my ideas out, instead of jamming them into the first few pages of a work–or confine myself to short stories, of which, a few of mine are okay from start to finish–maybe, just maybe, I’ll write something good. Acceptable. Readable. Not a total waste of someone else’s time. Etc.

After all, I would rather write something that’s not bad throughout, than something that’s brilliant at the start, and then flickers out abruptly on page 30.

There’s a metaphor in that last sentence, somewhere.

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Weirdo

Have you ever been called a weirdo? I have.

Mind you, the last time it happened, I can only see it as a compliment. Here’s how it played out:

I began following the blog of someone I “met” on Facebook. She seemed nice enough, if a bit silly. You know what I mean. She’d post about clean living and only eating vegetarian, organic food, and then stick up pics of herself having 3 slabs of bacon, 3 chocolates, and lattés all day (and nothing else, because Calories). I remember one HILARIOUS blog entry where she ate a bowl of cornflakes, and posted that, “They tasted like shame”. Pants-pissingly funny, right?  But I tried to leave supportive comments on her blog, I think I shared a couple of her better entries, y’know, things like that.  I was laughing at her privately, but supporting her publicly… and I couldn’t help the laughing.

But one day, she posts this entry about how she’s not been spending enough time at the gym, she’s eaten 1/12th of a take-out meal like TWICE in the last month (or whatever) and so, she breaks up with her boyfriend via the post. I believe the end went something like, “In the battle of man vs. food, food won”.

Odd ending, not least of all because she was ditching the guy so she could eat LESS. I suppose she just thought it sounded catchy.

But me, I was horrified. At this point, she’d gone from someone I was chatting to a couple of times a week, to someone who literally NEVER responded to my comments on her blog, so I just thought, screw it, I’ll do what I perceive to be the right thing, here. So I sent a FB message to her fella, saying something like, “Jeez that’s harsh, dumped by blog, ouch, if you wanna talk about it, loads of us know the story and would probably be happy to listen”.

Within an hour or 2, I get a message from her, demanding to know what I was doing, why I’d contacted her boyfriend (not ex, mind you) and essentially telling me to mind my own business. In the end, it turned out she hadn’t broken up with him at all–not only was her blog post poorly named, it was actually completely fictional. They were still together, and he had NO IDEA she’d written anything like that… she’d just added this dramatic post to her “totally honest, warts and all” blog because, well, BORED.

This culminated in me being called a weirdo and her blocking me from Facebook. I suppose some might find it weird, to extend sympathy to someone in a “romantic” relationship who’s evidently being used as a social media prop (but who, in fairness, I didn’t actually know)… weird I may be, but I’ll tell you what.

Things I post here will either be clearly fictional, or things that actually happened.

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