writing


In the past few weeks I’ve been feeling apathetic about this blog.  Minus the whole weird gazelle explosion, my readership is way down and my content hasn’t been too great either (connection?).  I have been struggling and wondering and pondering and have yet to come up with any solutions.  I begin to think–maybe I should just pack it all in and start a new blog elsewhere.  This pings back and forth in my head–Yes, it would be a fresh start and you would get fresh material.  –No, you need to stick with what you’ve got.

My brain usually sides with the no side… for a while.  But, I’m at about the 6 month mark with this blog, and that’s always when my blogging fingers get itchy.  Over the past 3 years, I have had about 5 blogs.  And, I always get to this point where I don’t know what to write, no one is reading anyway, so why bother–let’s start something new.

This time around, I am determined to stick it through.  A new blog space is not the answer to the age old problem.  I think sticking around is the answer.  I just have to reevaluate and rethink the current space.

Right now that reevaluating has everything to do with finding cohesion.  As a “personal” blogger, I struggle to find a cohesiveness with what I write about.  When I first started this blog, I figured my cohesive hook would be the time in my life–that bumpy struggle into adulthood.  But, believe it or not, adulthood is a pretty damn big topic.  So big that it’s really just me yapping about my rather boring life.  I have always been and will always be boring–and I like it that way.  But, whatever personality I have oftentimes seems to miss the mark in terms of translating into blog life.

And, I think the hardest part is that it’s not about how many readers or comments I have.  It’s not about what other people want to hear, it’s a blog for ME.  And that means I have to figure out what ME wants and who ME is and then translate it into my own personal style–I don’t think I’m there yet.

In the end, I’m not complaining about my stats or who does or does not read.  I am thinking, pondering, assessing–and for me, the best way to do that is write.  I’m going to be experimenting with some change around here–some noticeable/some not.  And in the process, I’m trying to figure out what this blog is and what it means to me and why I feel so compelled to do it.

Advertisements

I think we’re often told that adulthood is all about how you juggle.  Sometimes, we’re told it’s a balancing act.  Well let’s mix some metaphors here and say adulthood is flat out trying to juggle while you walk a balance beam that occasionally turns into a tight rope.

For me, I generally walk the balance beam okay, it’s the juggling that gives me trouble.  I learned to juggle scarves in 3rd grade PE, but no one ever taught me how to juggle 20 flaming torches of adult life.  I suppose it’s something you learn on the fly.

In my world, those torches don’t exactly fall.  More, they float out of reach so that as I walk my beam/tightrope, I’m struggling to continue the juggle, with one eye on those things floating just out of my grasp.  I make a grab for it–and it just floats further away… taunting me.

Right now, writing is one of those flaming torches.  It’s something I love to do.  When I’m writing well, it effects my whole outlook.    I’m a much happier person.  Writing is a part of me and not being able to do it–and not being able to do it well– drives me just a little crazy.  It’s not that I have nothing to write about–it’s just I seem to have lost the ability to write about it effectively.  Is it a side effect of adulthood?  That stupid torch will always burn just out of reach because I’ve got too much else to juggle.  Is it a side effect of teaching writing to students who are disinterested, don’t care, and skills make me want to scream.   I don’t know, I only know each failed grab makes my heart sink a little deeper.

Boring Thing (a):  I went on over to my Associated Content profile and learned that I was awarded a top 1,000 Content Producer Badge for 2007.  It was a shock, because although 1,000 is a lot, it seemed like there were a lot more prolific people on this site.  Maybe it was my Chocolate Cake Recipe or my my keen analysis of Keats poetry.  Which holds more popularity?  Chocolate Cake or Keats?

Boring Thing (b): I kind of think the apocalypse is coming.   Friday we had 5 inches of snow and no school.  Yesterday, it was 75 degrees and I went hiking without a coat.  Today is supposed to drop temps rapidly while we’re pelted with thunderstorms.  I think I have heard thunder more this January/February than I did all last summer/spring.  You want some bipolar weather, come to Missouri.

For some reason, February typically marks the time in the year when I start to become socially conscious.  Last year, I was beginning to think, talk, and research local eating and sustainability.  By July I had kind of given up on all that.  Not because I didn’t believe it, more because I wasn’t in a very good place and when it is a struggle to see the purpose and meaning in my life, the pathetic attempts I was making to live a more eco-friendly life just depressed me even more.

This February, I’m back thinking about sustainability.  In my mind, I’ve been planting my container garden in the new house and virtually recycling! Hell, I put pots on my wedding registry.  I’m getting out my Barbara Kinsgolver and sharpening my desire to live simply.  (Simply with a laptop, of course).

I’ve been thinking about my writing.  About how badly I want to tell a story that means something–and how I continuously fail at that beyond the romance novel medium.  For the first time in my writing life, I am thinking I want to attempt literary fiction.

I’ve also been cooking up a project for my students getting them to think about apathy.  I’m a pretty apathetic person, but there are certain issues I care deeply about.  There has always been something, ANYTHING that I believed in, felt some passion towards.  Sometimes, honestly, I think my students are blank slates of all sorts of empty.  It may not be true, but I need them to reassure me that there is something there beyond the laissez faire attitudes and utter lack of motivation.

And then there’s my educational research class and my attempt to write a paper on the need for grammar basics to be retaught at the 12th grade level.  I have delusions of grandeur thinking I can make this more than just an assignment.  Thinking I can truly create something revolutionary.

In other words, February is a time for all kinds of crazy.

This is my 100th post.  Woo.  That’s pretty good for a blog that started just over 3 months ago.  Thinking of my 100th post brought to mind kindergarten and how we celebrated the 100th day of school, you know?  Counting 100 Cheerios and marshmallows and doing all sorts of hundredsy things.

So, I tried to come up with something along the same lines.  I thought I could take pictures of things in hundreds (like the hundreds of snowflakes that are supposed to descend in hours—crossing my fingers for a snow day tomorrow—or the hundreds of skittles in the 56 ounce bag my Mom bought me at Costco).  I thought about doing 100 things, or posting 100 times on the 100th day.  Perhaps listening to 100 songs and listing them for you.  I could eat those 100 skittles and blog each bite.  I even thought of giving out one hundred hugs, but I hate to hug, even people I know. So many options—and yet, I settled for the most boring one.

You’re hereby invited to the 100th post edition of 100 things about me!

1.    My name is Nicole
2.    My birthday is in April, meaning my birthstone is diamond and I am a Taurus.
3.    I live in Missouri
4.    I have lived in 4 states (Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska)
5.    My favorite candy is tropical punch Now & Laters
6.    I do not like potatoes (unless they are French fried)
7.    Clowns scare the bejeezus out of me.
8.    I grow vegetables (tomatoes and peppers last summer)
9.    When I was a baby, I enjoyed baby food carrots and sweet potatoes so much that I began to tint orange.
10.    In my 25 (almost 26) years, I have lived in roughly 20 different houses/apartments.
11.    I like to tell people that.
12.    On my first day of 8th grade in a new school, I had to sit in ISS because my old school did not forward my shot records.  I sat in that empty room, crying and trying to read The Sun Also Rises. My Mom later told me she brought my records at 9am—yet I sat there ALL DAY.  I will never forgive that school.
13.    When R. first asked me out—I was totally clueless and invited all of our coworkers on our “date.”  A mutual friend had to explain to me that he was actually asking me out on a date.
14.    I used to be obsessed with the show Friends.  I wore Central Perk and that picture of them eating ice cream T-shirts.  In high school.  It is no wonder that I never had a date.
15.    My favorite book of all time is Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver.  It saved my soul.
16.    Speaking of books, I love romance novels—but only those by Nora Roberts.
17.    Speaking of romance novels, I’ve written four completed romance novels and self-published them.
18.    However, I cannot write a sex scene to save my life.
19.    Therefore, I do not send them in to real publishers.
20.    NaNoWriMo ’02 was the first time I’d actually ever finished one of my novels.
21.    I love chocolate cupcakes.
22.    I wish I could go on Jeopardy (I promise I would not tell a lame story!)
23.    My Friends knowledge severely scares my future in-laws.
24.    When I was in elementary school, I named my bike Lightening and pretended he was a horse as I rode through the neighborhood without a helmet.
25.    I played with Barbies… until 7th grade.
26.    For 2 or 3 months, I came home and watched the animated Anastasia every day after school.  I was in high school.  This may also explain the no-date thing.
27.    My Grandpa owns an airport for antique planes.
28.    He also has a dog cemetery around his house.  (One dog has its own stone).
29.    Violas are my favorite flower.
30.    Sweet Valley High was a large writing influence.
31.    I had the Saved by The Bell board game.  It was as awesome as you might imagine.
32.    I also had the Sweet Valley High board game, also awesome.  I was always Elizabeth.
33.    I once pushed my sister into a wall, causing her to crack part of her head open and required a small amount of stitches.  Oops.
34.    I kind of used to be in love with Harrison Ford.  Luckily, I am over it.
35.    Ditto David Schwimmer.
36.    I could watch Band of Brothers over and over and over and over.
37.    The coolest place I’ve ever been is Hawaii.
38.    I have never left the U.S
39.    I have never broken a bone (knock on wood).
40.    I believe in God.
41.    I do not go to church.
42.    I am letting my Mom plan about 95% of my wedding—because I hate planning things.
43.    I used to sell drunk people beer because I was afraid of their reaction otherwise.
44.    I don’t hate cops.
45.    My senior year of high school I was involved in a club called Youth in Government.  I was a lobbyist and managed to kill a pro-gun bill.
46.    I was then voted most likely to beat up the kid with the pro-gun bill.
47.    I currently (and probably for the majority of my future) live with a gun in the apartment/house.  (Because I live with a cop).
48.    I don’t go 24 hours without a pop.
49.    When I moved to St. Louis, I promised myself I would never call pop soda—I’m about a ½ and ½ -er now.  Sometimes it’s pop—sometimes soda.
50.    I stole 2 books from Truman’s library—I still got my diploma.
51.    When I was in 5th grade, I was determined I would become the first woman major league baseball player—apparently you have to practice a lot and be good, though.
52.    I have a Bo Hart jersey (you are awesome if you know who he is).
53.    I wish I had a Joe McEwing jersey.
54.    I hate Tony Larussa
55.    When I worked at a state park with R. I would bring goldfish everyday in my lunch.  One day, my Mom bought Garfield shaped goldfish.  I took them in my lunch, but didn’t like them.  R. said I was crazy, they were the same thing.  Four years later, R. still brings this up.  I like to think it’s what made me irresistible to him.
56.    When I was in middle school, my sister and I used to watch Oklahoma! Constantly and try to do the “Kansas City” dance.
57.    We also made a “American Gladiator” type obstacle course in our basement and pretended to be on the show.
58.    In 7th grade, I was on the middle school basketball team.  At the end of our season, the morning announcements went through our point stats.  I was last.  Nicole: 1.  Technically, I had made both free throws, but I stepped over the line voiding the second.
59.    My best friend in elementary school and middle school ate grass and sucked on rocks.
60.    She also got me to read Elf Quest (If you know what that is… I’m a little scared).
61.    On my 22nd birthday, a guy followed me and my friends home from the bars and took his pants off in our yard.  He started banging his head on our door and I had to call the cops.  It was the best night ever.
62.    I almost choked to death on a starlight mint… twice.  I coughed it out once in a grocery store parking lot, the other time my aunt had to give me the Heimlich.
63.    For my sixteenth birthday, I asked for (and got) a kerosene lamp.
64.    I would often light it in my room and imagine I was a pioneer.
65.    I used to write historical fiction (romance).
66.    I used to collect unicorns—a collection my Grandma started me on and I haven’t added to since she died.
67.    She also gave me most of her santa collection, which I continue to add to.
68.    My greatest ambition for my future (aside from having kids) is to own a barn.
69.    And grow enough fruits and vegetables to live off of.
70.    As much as I want to go local and organic—I don’t recycle.  (Will in the new house though!)
71.    The most relaxing vacation I ever had was Hilton Head.
72.    I failed my permit test the first time I took it.
73.    I hate hockey.
74.    I hate James Joyce—spawn of Satan
75.    I still hold a grudge against the professor who gave me a B in Contemporary Lit even though I got an A on every assignment.
76.    I have seen every episode of more shows than I can count—Friends, Caroline in the City, Brady Bunch, Petticoat Junction, Hogan’s Heroes, Ed, Early Edition and so on…
77.    I would stalk Kyle Chandler without any qualms.
78.    I own three CDs that are made up solely of Civil War music.
79.    I worked as a waitress for 3 weeks—those were possibly the most miserable 3 weeks ever.
80.    I am a Democrat
81.     If Clinton gets the nod, I’ll vote for her.  It might kill my Grandfather.
82.    In the 2000 election, I originally voted for Al Gore but the ticket thing didn’t work.  I took it as a sign and voted for Ralph Nader.
83.    I hate giving out D’s and F’s—even to students I dislike.
84.    I am always cold.
85.    A perfect Saturday is lying in bed, under the covers, watching bad TV or old movies.
86.    My favorite meal is roast beef and green beans a la my Mom.
87.    My favorite color is purple.
88.    I hate getting my picture taken because the minute a camera is near my neck seems to go into weird convulsions so I look gross.
89.    I haven’t had my hair professionally cut in 2 years.
90.    A teacher, like a parent, is not supposed to have favorites, but I do.  Sometimes I worry I make it very clear.
91.    Overachievers bother the hell out of me.
92.    People who claim to be overachievers bother me even more.
93.    I yell at people when I drive.  And curse.  A lot.
94.    I love Jimmy Stewart.
95.    I am terrible at video games.
96.    I hate calling people on the phone.
97.    Today, I am wearing a sort of brown and black plaid pair of paints and grey striped socks with black shoes.  I look atrocious.  My students laugh
98.    I drive on empty as long as possible because I hate pumping gas.
99.    My favorite alcoholic beverage is a Long Island Iced Tea.
100.    I spent almost my entire lunch break on this.

Instead of working out like I should be doing, or cleaning, or even recording grades, I have been glued to the computer trying to do things to my blog that I’ve been meaning to do since the beginning:

1) Update my blogroll with all the lovelies I now read thanks to NaBloPoMo. Check! If there’s any unfamiliar titles, you should definitely check these peoples out.

2) Put my Lulu badge on the sidebar. Not a check because I can’t figure out how to put HTML badges or anything in my darn sidebar in WordPress. Grr. So, you want to check out my self-published novels at lulu go here:

http://www.lulu.com/nicoletbeck

3) Much along the same lines, tried to put my Associated Content badge up. I love Associated Content. Any time I get a good idea for an article I can make a couple bucks, then reap in more bucks each month as people view the article. If you’re so inclined you can read my articles here:

http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/5356/nicole_beck.html

If you’re a writer at heart you should check it out and then sign up using my referral link: http://www.associatedcontent.com/join.html?refer=5356

And if I can ever figure out wordpress those will be permanent badges in my sidebar.

5.  One Writer’s Beginnings by Eudora Welty:  I read this book my senior year of high school for my A.P Language class.  In Welty, I found a kindered spirit.  A quiet child more interested in a book than much else.  She talked of confluence and memory and all of things resonated in a way I didn’t quite understand until I took a creative nonfiction class three years later.  It was yet another book that affirmed to me that I could be a writer.

4.  Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell:  This book is really one of the most influential books in my writing life.  I read the 1,000+ pages of Gone With the Wind enthralled.  I think it took me a week tops to read this book.  At the end, I had two warring thoughts.  The first was Rhett’s little soliloquy about something being broken never being put back together again, and sometimes it is better than way–because the “fixed” pieces can’t ever stand up to the memory of the whole.  The second thought was how a woman could write 1000+ pages of interesting, descriptive, fascinating text.  This huge volume of work held me from beginning to end and when I was done I wanted to write (maybe not 1000 pages).

3.  Small Wonder by Barbara Kingsolver:  This book of essays was so much about… peace and gentleness.  The first time I read it I didn’t care so much about the political aspects of it all.  However, when I reread it this summer–putting a few years of growing up in there–I became so attached to it.  I hate pieces of art (books, movies, whatever) that are completely dark and negative.  The world is hell and it’s only going to get worse.  The world is a scary place, terriying and hurtful at times, but I have to believe that there is good in this world and the hope of this good and living in that hope is what Kingsolver talks about in her essays.  And to me, there is very little more profound than hope.

2.  The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger:  This is the type of book that you cry through.  It’s the type of book that’s emotionally exhausting and there’s none of the happy ending that I’m usually drawn to.  But, despite it’s fantastical elements, it was so real.  It was all about the real, cruel aspects of love and life.  But there was hope behind it–that love is real and that it is right to fight for it, even if it is fleeting.  This book made me realize what I had and gave me an insight into what love truly was–not perfect and pretty, but hard and gritty and still worth it.

1.Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver:  I read this book my sophomore year of college.  I can vividly remember laying on my lofted bed in this small, smelly(thanks to roommate) room poring over her words and crying.  The underlying theme of Prodigal Summer is all about solitude and loneliness and finding love–and not necessarily romantic love, just love.  It was a time I felt completely alone.  I was away from my family and felt like I was not a part of their lives.  My small little group of friends had a habit of manipulation and an inability to really let it go and be friends at that time.  We were a bunch of goody-goodies going through our high school clique phase trying to figure out who we were and where we belonged and there were definitely times when we were not kind to each other.  This book, at its very core, made me realize that I could feel alone–but I wasn’t actually alone.  That solitude WAS merely a “human presumption” and that there is a connection that binds us all.  That was a turning point in my life.  I began to rely less on everyone else, less on what other people thought–and worried about making myself the person I wanted to be, because I wasn’t alone.

NaNoWriMo Update:  If you really want to finish NaNoWriMo, I don’t recommend getting engaged.  I’ve written maybe 100 words in the past three days.  I’m going to try to make up this deficit this weekend, but we’ll see how it goes.

Next Page »