One thing about growing up with secrecy, silence, and paranoia in an authoritarian family is that it gets really hard to untangle the effects of emotional abuse from one’s actual personality.
Until recently, for example, I rarely asked questions. Part of that is because because so many of my childhood and adolescent questions were answered with :
contempt: “You stupid kid”
ridicule: “I can’t believe you don’t know that”
silent treatment: absolute silence as if I had not spoken
dismissal: “You don’t need to know that”
anger: “Don’t ask things like that!”
annoyance “Don’t bother me with that”
mockery: “Why do you care about that?”
impatience: “I don’t have time for this.”
I learned that questions are irritating, intrusive, inappropriate, and unwelcome. I learned that I would be mocked, ridiculed, and subject to anger or silent treatments if I asked questions or showed curiosity. Continue reading →
I have already forgotten a lot of this book since I finished it back around the May long weekend and just didn’t get around to writing about it. I did like the main character, Amy, a misanthropist introvert author who hasn’t published anything in ages and who teaches writing classes. Her thoughts and feelings about her students were entertaining, although I admit I do have a preference for this type of sarcastic protagonist. The premise of the book was that weird events and deaths were befalling the class, and Amy was going to try to figure out who the culprit was by analysing the writing of her students. As a premise, it was fascinating, but it’s not how the story actually worked out. (The plot was kind of vague that way.)
Some of the characters were quite interesting while others were flat. I felt the trope of mental illness as an explanation for violent or bizarre behaviour was overused (you don’t have to be crazy to be an asshole or a murderer, and not all crazy people are violent, so chill already with the casual slurs and assumptions). The plot was not particularly believable, There were lots of interesting bits and pieces (Carla’s amazing house, Amy’s hilarious blog, the writing samples), but not enough substance in the story to hold them together in a memorable form. Amy seemed like she’d be a good protagonist for a series, and in fact I think there was another book about her before this one.
I don’t actually feel like I wasted my time reading this book, but it didn’t particularly engage me, and it’s already in my giveaway pile.
So today is the last day of NaBloPoMo. I hope that actually stands for National Blog Posting Month, otherwise I’ve sure been doing it wrong. While I did manage to post something every single day this month, I’m not sure I would do it again. It was great to have the discipline of coming up with an idea and writing something every day, but I felt like I couldn’t give most of my posts the time and thought I would have preferred. Some of them felt more like a wordy Facebook status than a blog post.
Maybe next time I try this, I’ll commit to a post every second day rather than every day. I did really enjoy making the writing a daily practice, but it might have worked better for me to journal daily instead of forcing out a post.
Thanks to everyone who read and liked and commented on my posts. I feel like posting every day was a bit of an abuse of the patience of my readers, so I am extra-appreciative of this month’s audience participation!
Did any of you do NaBloPoMo or one of the other versions of it? If so, what was the experience like for you?
Cover of Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg
I first read Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within back in the late 80s, and I’ve reread it quite a few times since then. Natalie Goldberg’s writing is clear and uncluttered; it’s a style I enjoy. The book’s contents are divided into very short chapters, some less than two pages. She teaches through little stories and anecdotes, informed by her Zen Buddhism, and full of kindness and generosity. She encourages writers to treat themselves with that same kindness and generosity, and rather than outlining strict rules for writing, she shows how even setbacks or doubts can be approached from another angle and made useful.
I like the book’s easy, intimate, conversational style, and I very much appreciate that Goldberg does not presume to have the One True Path to writing success. Continue reading →
There are so many interesting bloggers out there! I scroll through my Reader and every second post catches my eye. And most of the ones that catch my eye inspire me to want to write something, so I have lists and lists of potential topics.
But when will I get to them? How do I carve out writing time? The dogs feel neglected, the cats are practically feral, the laundry is piled up and so are the dishes, my lawn is knee-high, and I’m due for a shower.
I am begging you, Other Bloggers: please stop being so interesting!
Picture of the cover of Stage Fright by Harry Bruce.
This book was so much fun! It started with the history of paper and writing implements, moving on to typewriters and computers, and ending up with drugs, sex, suicide, and superstitions, with stories about how famous writers throughout history have written. What tools they use, what rituals they followed, what superstitions they had, what drugs they did, how they viewed writing itself… Continue reading →