HOP: to move by a series of quick springy leaps
Lisa Sadikman recently invited me to participate in a writing-themed blog hop and I agreed. I like the idea of a bunch of folks sharing why (and how) they write. Sharing my method and motivation seemed like a fair trade for getting to know about the methods and motivation of others. A grown up version of I’ll show mine if you’ll show yours, I suppose. As I eagerly awaited Lisa’s answers to the questions, I pondered my own.
Why do I write what I do?
I write about my children and motherhood because that is the content my daily life supplies.
Writing is the closest I will ever come to managing to think before I speak. In person, I am both bland and inappropriate in equal measure. On the page, I sometimes manage to be articulate and witty. Verbal exchanges don’t allow for editing, but writing does. My charm benefits from editing the way aging bodies benefit from dim lighting. I still manage to say inappropriate things in writing, and sometimes come off harsher or more irreverent than I intend, but it happens far less in writing than in speaking. I’m a better person with backspace.
The knowledge that I can edit later has the added benefit of making me more honest in writing. When I approach the paper, or screen, I can be as vulnerable as I want. The safety net of future revisions allows me to be more myself in writing than in any other place. Oftentimes, I find that seeing a truth in writing gives me the courage to speak it aloud in another context. I have been surprised by truths typed by my own fingers on more than one occasion, and that experience – being introduced to a part of myself that I didn’t know before – keeps me scribbling on the backside of PTA agendas.
How is my writing different from others in my genre?
Is “Ummm….” a genre? Because, that is what I say when folks ask, “What do you write?” Admittedly, I haven’t had a lot of practice answering that particular question because it is a question that logically (and almost exclusively) follows “I’m a writer.” And, those three words are something I still haven’t managed to utter aloud. So far, I have managed to dance around the noun with verbs. I write. I write essays. I write essays about motherhood.
I’m not sure my work is that different from others who write about motherhood. But, being different isn’t all that important to me. In fact, I believe that the more of us who write warts-and-all pieces about life in general and motherhood in particular, the better. I find comfort and encouragement and inspiration in the words of other writers and I throw my contribution into the blogosphere and onto the glossy pages of magazines in hopes that friends and strangers may find the same in my words.
What am I working on/writing?
Sadly, most of the words I write in a day are related to my day job as a land use planner. I draft policies about preservation of rural character, word smith reports about geologic hazards, and compose memos about shoreline setbacks. Those activities are rewarding in their own way. I value the effort required to communicate an idea in a clear and compelling way, but it doesn’t scratch my itch for creative writing. Sure, sometimes I get to let my creativity run rampant on the clock. Like the time I wrote a formal memo about the need to update a particular set of regulations that hadn’t been updated since 1970…using song titles from the 70s for all the memo sub-headings. But, most of the writing I do at work is on the clinical rather than creative end of the spectrum.
When the work day ends, I try to make time for the fun stuff if it’s a day I can stomach one more hour in front of a computer screen. I am primarily focused on writing content for my personal blog and completing essays for my monthly contribution to Brain, Child Magazine’s Blog (Brain, Mother). Right now, that is enough to keep me busy and keep my writing firmly in the hobby category. Someday, I hope to have an idea so great or a stack of material so tall or a shot of courage so transforming that I embrace writing full-time. But for now, I am happy to sporadically capture 500-1,000 word musings on life as I know it.
How does my writing process work?
I don’t think what I do deserves the label “writing process” but it goes a little something like this:
- Have an idea hit me like a bolt of lightning while I’m far away from pen or paper.
- Swear to myself that I will remember the idea.
- Mentally write and rewrite sentences full of wit and wisdom.
- Successfully remember the idea…for a little while.
- Sit down at computer.
- Stare at screen.
- Attempt to pour out contents of brain.
- Realize brain is empty.
- Curse (quietly).
- Stare at screen.
- Check Facebook…and Twitter.
- Review daily blog stats.
- Decide to try writing again tomorrow.
- Repeat steps 1 through 13 at least twice. Proceed to Step 15.
- Force myself to write something that is a shadow of what it could have been if I had put in place a writing process.
- Push “publish” because I’ve experienced a lot of personal growth in the last decade and understand that completion is sometimes more valuable than perfection.
Now let me introduce you to the folks who kindly accepted my invitation to participate in this blog hop. It wasn’t until I was reading all their bios that I realized I’d selected all Canadians. What can I say? I’m hopelessly attracted to writing with extra “U”s. Favour. Colour. Glamour. Spelling is simply more charming north of the 49th parallel.
A network administrator and information technology specialist by trade, Troy Berg has been writing professionally for nearly two decades since cutting his teeth as a sports journalist and columnist for his hometown newspaper. He maintains an ongoing part-time career as a humorist, technical writer and freelance writer, regularly contributing columns, articles and essays to print and online magazines that include Parents, Today’s Parent, and Reader’s Digest Canada. In addition to his blog at Ad-libbed.com, Troy is a staff writer at LongAwkwardPause.com, and also has a weekly humor column at Castanet.net. He also has a driving passion for all things theatre, and is frequently on stage with numerous local community theatre companies and is a regular performer in two local comedy troupes specializing in short-form improvisational comedy.
Katherine writes daily for the Living section of TreeHugger, covering topics such as a zero waste lifestyle, local food, health and fitness, ethical fashion, and green travel. She maintains a personal blog at Feisty Red Hair and is a former contributor to TLC Parentables. She graduated from the University of Toronto and is now raising her family on the shores of Lake Huron.
The next three ladies collaborate on 4mothers1blog and agreed to give me a special deal – three for the price of one!
Carol Chandran was born in Malaysia and raised in Toronto. She is married and the mother of three boys, 7 and under. She is currently taking a leave of absence from her paid work as a research lawyer to tend to her brood. Drawn in the extreme to natural living, the power of slow, and all things sustainable, Carol manages to incorporate them into her life in the not-so-extreme.
Nathalie Foy is the mother of three boys, an avid reader and an occasional professor of Canadian Literature at the University of Toronto. She and her husband own a house in downtown Toronto, a house in apparently constant need of repair. She has a parallel existence in a perfectly tidy house staffed by happy house elves. Nathalie’s favourite thing about living in Toronto is being able to hear 10 different languages on any trip through the city. Prior to moving to Toronto in 1997, Nathalie lived in Liberia, Nigeria, Haiti, Saudi Arabia, England, Egypt, Ireland and Japan, with a four-year stop in Montreal for university. Hearing languages she does not always understand makes her feel at home. Nathalie also blogs about books at http://nathaliefoy.wordpress.com
Beth-Anne Jones is a mom to three sons (ages 5, 4 and 18 months). Her favourite things are spending time with her boys, including her husband, reading a good book in a hot bath, beautiful stationery, silent car rides and fresh flowers. She is always striving to “have it all”, lead a simpler life, and find her inner zen . . . but manages to come up just short. Imagine that. Beth-Anne’s written work has appeared on the Yummy Mummy Club website.