Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

Or, Why My iPhone Battery Loses its Charge so Quickly

Photo by Wenni Zhou on Unsplash

Once again my iPhone’s charge is down to 30%, and it’s only 5 p.m. It’s all Medium’s fault, really; once again, I’ve spent too much time reading and writing here, and once again I’m probably going to have to put the phone on the charger just to get me through to bedtime.

I blame the problem on Medium: there are far too many interesting stories I have to read, and it’s far too easy to write my own stories on my iPhone.

So you see, it’s not my fault at all. (Echos of Han Solo: “Hey, it’s not my fault!”)

All kidding aside, when it’s 16° outside and snowing, and I’ve caught up to all my shows on Netflix, there’s not much else I enjoy more than drinking tea, reading, and writing. Especially on a lazy Saturday.

Except for the fact that I’m retired, and so all of my days are lazy Saturdays.

Look, a girl can read only so many vampire novels before she needs a break.

And my favorite break consists of another cuppa and reading stories on Medium.

Which inevitably leads me to writing one or three of my own. Which is a Good Thing™, because it keeps me off the streets and out of the bars.

Medium has done a lot for me in the year and a half I’ve been writing here: it’s introduced me to other writers who I follow almost religiously (I say “almost” because agnostics don’t do anything religiously), a few who follow me, and as a result my own scribblings have improved.

My hometown of Rochester, NY, isn’t famous for its bus system, and I have no car. So I can’t get to any writer’s workshops or support groups.

Instead, Medium serves that purpose for me.

Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash

Indeed, Medium has also become my social medium of choice for communicating with the outside world. James Finn, Michelle Monet, Ezinne Ukoha and several others too numerous to mention always brighten my days with their stories…all without the constant bickering and name-calling that finally drove me away from Facebook.

So it’s time to fess up and come clean: my name is Robyn, and I’m a Mediumaholic.

Tea Fuels My Writing…

Posted: 19 January, 2019 in Tea, Writing
Tags: , ,

And My Writing Fuels My Tea

Pretty nifty, the way that works out, wouldn’t you say?

As usual, I was out of bed by 8 this morning, and my first cup of tea was brewing by 8:10, and gone by 8:20, as I breezed through the morning news and weather.

No change in either: we’re still gonna get another 14 to 20 inches, and Trump is still the worst president in history.

But as Arlo said in Alice’s Restaurant, “That’s not what I come to talk to you about.”*

I’ve come once again to speak of the wonders of tea. The aches and pains of growing old. Childhood memories. Grandchildren. Everything that falls under the heading of “SSDD.”**

My writing is a reflection of my life in this regard: I rarely know what I’m doing when I begin each day, and I rarely know what I’m going to write when I fire up my writing tool.

A friend told me yesterday, “You know that part of your brain that says ‘better think about this before you blurt it out’? Yeah. I was born without that part.”

To which I replied, “I know what you mean; I like to be just as surprised as everybody else by what comes out of my mouth.”

And I’m pretty sure that explains why I’ll never be famous for writing The Great American Novel.™

I wonder: is it possible to age out of one genre and into another? Have I lost the spark or desire or whatever impetus pushes writers to write fiction? Am I condemned to writing memoirs and op-eds for the rest of my life?

When I was in elementary school back in the ‘50s, I was “fidgety,” “disruptive,” “smart, but doesn’t apply herself.” (The same was true in college, which is probably why I never graduated.)

What in the ‘50s was a character defect is now recognized as ADHD, or as mine has settled into, ADD. It’s the same thing, but without the hyperactivity.

Like so many other things from my childhood, what was once a problem or a hindrance has matured into an asset: my mind makes connections instantly, where other people have to ponder for a while.

But honesty compels me to admit that ADD can be a pain in the ass, too: sometimes ideas come so fast that they’re gone before I can write them down.

It makes me a lousy editor of my own works; there have been far too many times when I’ve sat down to edit a first draft only to look at it from another angle and end up rewriting it into something other than what it was originally.

This story is an excellent example. I started with the intention of how my consumption of tea and my writing are connected, but after 3 or 4 rewrites it bears no resemblance to the original.

Except for the graphic at the top of the page, nothing remains of the original.

But isn’t that a perfect example of what William Faulkner said?

In this case, the character took so many twists and turns along the road that I was barely able to follow him, much less catch up to him.

But then again, isn’t that what writing’s all about? Getting out of the way and letting the story tell itself?


*Hear it on YouTube
**Same Shit, Different Day

Or, “Another Day, Another Boring Article”

Faulkner

It’s 9:00 a.m. I’ve been up since 8. I’ve checked my mail (twice), read the gloomy weather report (8°), made the first cup of tea of the day, wasted 15 minutes on Pinterest, and posted an image to Instagram.

Damn. I’ve run out of distractions. No more excuses. *sigh* Guess it’s time to start writing.

Do you start your mornings like that?

I’ve only had one or two days begin that way. I hate them. I wake up wondering just what the hell I was thinking when I decided to be a writer — even though I’ve been writing for most of my life.

One thing I’ve discovered since the popularity of the Internet is that writing for the screen and writing for the printed page are two different animals.

On the printed page my paragraphs can be long, as long as they need to be to get my idea across. I can add footnotes, end notes, and all the fancy-schmancy doodads required by academic writing standards.

Not so when writing for the screen: the moat common reaction to long paragraphs is for your reader to go somewhere, anywhere, else.

A page with shorter paragraphs,for example.

I don’t mean this as a criticism (well,not entirely); it’s a fact that the Internet, with its sights and sounds, pop-up ads, and other distractions, has contributed to shortened attention spans.

So has television, with its ability to create world-threatening scenarios which Our Hero is able to resolve in an hour — with time out for advertisements.

Shorter attention spans, however, force us as writers to (in the words of Prof. William Strunk) “Omit needless words.” That worthy considered that rule so crucial that he repeated it. Three times.

So at least in that way it’s a blessing. We are forced to hone our craft, to fine-tune our words, so that we get our message across quickly and concisely.

Of course, that lets our stories for the printed page be as wordy and descriptive as ever.

Yes, I write primarily for the screen, but I fill my spare time reading novels and scholarly works.

With today’s technology, Ernest Hemingway would be a better choice for the screen than would say, William Faulkner.

But Faulkner would run rings around Hemingway on the printed page.

Another Day of Writing

Posted: 11 January, 2019 in Writer's Block, Writing
Tags:

Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash

This is another day I don’t feel like writing. I’m tired, my arthritis is acting up, and I don’t want to do anything.

It’s 12° outside, at 10 a.m. I’ve had breakfast and my first cup of tea. I’ve spent 10 minutes ranting and raving about not having any cigarettes — it’s been over a week — and I’ve finally run out of excuses.

So I’m forcing myself to write. It might not be any good, and I might delete it as soon as it’s done, but as the old saying goes, “A writer writes.”

Even when she doesn’t feel like it. Even when she’s only doing it because she’s run out of excuses not to write.

“A writer writes.”

Yes, yes: I’ve read it so many times before. But this time I’ve taken it to heart and actually acted on it.

I started this piece at around 8:30, and I’ve been editing it, rewriting it, massaging it since then.

So here I am, 2 and a half hours into this piece, and I’m finally at peace with it.

Writing is a craft, a discipline, and one that demands constant practice. It’s like an exercise as well, in that the more you do it, the better you get at it.

Today is the day I’m forcing myself to write, despite myself.

Today I can finally call myself a writer.

Conversing via Texting Sucks

Posted: 17 December, 2018 in Rants, Writing
Tags: ,

Why I Hate it

My ex communicates with me mostly by text. Her daughter is the same. I remember sitting across from them in a restaurant while they texted back and forth. To each other. Sitting side by side.

It used to drive me crazy. Well, crazier than I already was.

Communication is so much more than just words. It is facial expressions, tone of voice. Visual and audible cues mean so much more than mere words can express.
Those cues, those subtleties, are lost when texting. Even the ability to write a decent letter can convey more emotional content than can a text message.

Face-to-face conversations are rich with content, both spoken and unspoken. The smile that comes to your face when I say something that amuses you, or the arching of your eyebrows when I ask a probing question.

All of that is lost in texting.

Texting definitely is a great tool. It has its place. It’s perfect for reminding your spouse to pick up a dozen eggs on the way home from work. Asking Nana what time she’ll be arriving to visit the kids this Saturday morning.

And yes, there are grandparents who are technologically hip; I’m one of them.
But when it comes to meaningful communication, call me. After all, that’s why mobile phones were created in the first place.

Better yet, stop by for a cup of tea and a long conversation.

Photo by Aliis Sinisalu on Unsplash 

I’ll even spring for the cookies!