Short Thought on My Writing Life

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As some of you may know, I recently graduated with an MFA in writing.  What a journey it was. Two years of no sleep and non stop consumption of literature and all things writing.

I wrote an essay about it and in writing it, it was eliminating.  These were my thoughts, but many of my classmates told me that I captured our journey accurately. 

I wondered if other MFA students had/have the same journey.  Is it the same for younger people? The classmates who agreed with my assessment were in my age group. Is it different for millennial who have more energy? Less responsibility?  

All of us came out in the end with that piece of paper and an idyllic vision of our future. You know–writing that novel, making those millions. Who wouldn’t want that? Now, I’m happy writing and submitting my small things here and there. Even if it is through sites like Submittalbe. You can read about how that site is the bane of my existence.

But I look to that elusive future. One day, one day!

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Part 2 – Breaking Out of the Cell

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Now that I am well on my way in curbing the social media that I use, I am tackling my cell phone usage overall. 

Am I addicted to Social Media? Am I addicted to my cell phone? A few months ago I would have said not, but now I’ll say absolutely. I’ve downloaded an app called Moment on my iphone. This app not only tracks where you go but how long you stay there. It tells you how many times you check your phone in a day. With this app you can set daily reminders & set time limits.  It also allows you to remove apps from the data such as Audible. After all, reading/listening to a book on your device does not fall in the realm of wasted time.

There are different apps that do similar things for both iphone and android.

The first day I used this app, I was shocked to learn that I spent nearly 3 hours looking at my phone. A lot of this was figuring out the app itself and playing scrabble. So I would say it was slightly exaggerated.  The next day I spent just a little over an hour for the entire day.

Some days will have more usage than others, and I’m not quitting my Scrabble habit. But having this app makes me more mindful of how I use my phone.  Do I really need to pick it up and check my email every 15 min? No. Because no one emails me.

I’m curious to see how much more in life I do when I’m not using the phone during my ‘bored’ moments. I don’t think I’ll be sailing around the world or skydiving any time soon, but who knows where it will lead.

Stay tuned.

Here is data from August 2017 that highlights social media usage.

It says that 3 billion people use Social Media. That number shocks me.

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Part I – Breaking Out of the Cell

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“I don’t go on Facebook much. I’m too busy living life.”

The above quote was from a friend who though she has a Facebook account, doesn’t utilize it much.  She’s not the only person I know that doesn’t. A lot of people I know in my real life are not slaves to social media. What do these people have in common? They lead interesting lives that I only know about through other means of communication such as a phone conversation or a face-to-face conversation.

That statement always stuck with me.  I’ve noticed recently that I’ve been looking through my Facebook and Instagram feeds more than I had in the past. It dawned on me that I was doing it out of boredom.

I made a decision to become one of those people who break the chain that attaches me to my phone.

  • Facebook would be the first thing I’d curb.

I find very little of interest in my feeds. Partly because of the algorithm that shows me the same handful of people over and over. I have to scroll pretty far in my feed to find people that don’t show up. Sometimes I have to physically go to their page.

A lot of the stuff I read is angry and depressing

. Not unlike the local news (which I nixed months ago). I made the decision to not have that negativity pumped into my home via the TV, so why would

I still visit Facebook, but I don’t post much an

ymore. Why? Because I don’t have anything of value to add. Why pollute feeds with stuff. No one cares anyway. I don’t post angry/negative stuff (usually—well a vent here 

and there). I try to post upbeat/positive things. Which go largely ignored. Why? Because people don’t want to be made to feel good. They want to drag through the negativity of life.

My daughter doesn’t even use Facebook anymore. She and other young people say we, the older generation, have taken over…with cats and kids. I disagree. I think we’ve taken over with annoyance and anger.

  • Instagram is next, but it’s not a problem.

Using Instagram is not new to me, but I’ve only started upping my use of it recently. Why I like this form of social media better than Facebook is because I have more control. Especially since they instituted the use of #(hashtag) following.  Now my feed is filled with things I actually want to see, and I find interesting.

So the problem here is because I find it interesting, I’m on it more than I’d like. When I’m bored, this is my go to social media site.  I post my own photos to it, but I mainly look. My feed is filled with inspiration and uplifting photos/quotes…that can be addicting. 

I found this demographic information from 2013. Though it is 5 years old, it is still quite interesting to see that everybody is pretty even across the board. Race, Sex, Education, Age…Everyone is equally addicted.

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Finally, My Old Notebooks Have a Purpose

 

NOTEBOOKMy first few notebooks were non-descript. I don’t know who the manufacturer was nor did I care. I was in to aesthetics. Did it please my eye? Was it pretty?  Hey, I was a young woman, that’s what we do.

I almost lost my mind when I bought my first Moleskine.  They were pricier than anything I had purchased in the past, but my life changed when I realized that notebooks like these existed.  They only came in black (lined and unlined) but I had never written in anything so fantastic. When the first color one came out (red) I thought Christmas had come!  I packed these books from margin to margin and top to bottom. I wrote sideways in the margins to maximize room. I no longer just put poetry in them, I put everything I could, from journal entries to quotes. My first Moleskine’s are pages and pages of chaos. I don’t think I used a table of contents either.

 

I discovered these notebooks in the early/mid 2000’s. Since that time, they’ve added colors and variations to the same notebook.  I have recently discovered Leuchtturm1917 notebooks. I rotate between these two brands exclusively.

Now that my budget isn’t so tight, I can buy them when needed, and I don’t have to cram the pages. Actually I now have a notebook buying addiction. I have a surplus.

I spend between 2-6 months with one notebook. The average time spent with one is 3 ½ months. I date them on the outside, so I can easily find what I need.  When I first started using them, my thought was I’d go back to them and use them in my writing. (I had started using a table of contents and hand numbering pages so I can find things easier. Now-a-days some Moleskine’s and all Leuchtturm’s have a TOC and page numbers). That was the master plan, but it seemed I rarely went back to them. Until recently.

Now that I’m concentrating on writing personal essays I am relying more on these notebooks. I can remember timeframes as to when events occurred, so I just pull out a notebook or two that has the needed dates. One thing that I learned is I cannot rely on my memory. The journaling in these notebooks have more color and detail than I could ever remember. During one of my re-reads, I had forgotten a lot that happened. I remembered the big chunks of pain, not the tiny fissures that lead up to it. These fissures add texture and depth to the essay. I was fascinated (and impressed) at my own foresight.  I wasn’t trying to put every moment of pain down on a daily basis, it just happened.

There is a down side to this. Now that I know I was so clever, my currently journaling may be affected.  I try to write in stream of consciousness as to avoid any purpleness.  I have to capture the feeling as I’m really feeling it at the moment I’m feeling it.

I know writers who don’t keep a notebook, electronically or otherwise. To each his/her own. For me, it’s a tool. Not just for later use, but current use. I write ideas, stories, journal entries, vent sessions, anything and everything. I even clip some photos from time to time. Everything I put in these books I look at as something I can use down the line. I just don’t know when orhow, but everything in my life is bound to end up in something I write.

 

 

 

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Post MFA Life

This is the first September in five years that I’m not gearing up for school. Every autumn since 2013, I looked forward to sitting in a classroom, forsaking sleep and learning. If is a strange feeling to not have that on the horizon.

My daughter is now a sophomore in College and I’m suffering from FOMO. I complained when I was in the thick of it and exhausted beyond comprehension. But the other side of the coin is that I wIMG_4084ill miss it. The structure, the comradery.

Though I no longer have the structure of the classroom, I still have to structure my mind around the writing life. I have been writing steadily since graduation, and will continue to do so.

I had to think about what I did before 2013 to fill my time. I had kept myself quite busy. I did a lot of crafts, which I’ve started doing again.

I also realized that I can actually read what I want. Not that I didn’t while I was in school, but between lack of time & sleep, as well as assigned readings, my reading lessened and was not entirely of my choosing.

I also can watch TV! During my school-life, I had to make choices about shows to watch/binge. I kept it to the summer months where I could come home daily and watch an episode. But now, I can keep up in real time. Though I’m not a huge watcher, I have my favorites, and I’ve discovered series’ in the streaming world that I never knew existed. I keep to the mindset that a writer watches TV/movies differently than the non-writer. And I won’t even go into my recent YouTube documentary watching.

Molding my life back into a non-student will take a minute, but I’m looking forward to this next phase. I’m on the other side of the hump, let’s see what it brings.

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Published Poem and its reason

Did you know I wrote poetry? It’s not something I talk about. But I have one newly published at Breadcrumbs Magazine

Hipster-Mens-Hairstyles

It was born from the frustration of men of all ages wanting a woman to look a certain way or to be a certain way. Pretty and of average (or below average) intelligence.

Not all men fall under this category, but in my geographical area, it is sad but true.

OR

They look at you and assume that you are *fill in the blank* and don’t bother to get to know you. Has it been this way for millennia?  Probably. Will it change? Probably not.

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Link: Sister (an essay)

I’ll keep this short and kinda sweet–

Please visit Herstry Blog and read my latest personal essay entitled Sister

Thanks.

 

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