Saturday, August 22, 2009

Probably, Basically (Of Course)

If I had to choose a professional identity other than "former copy editor" or "stay-at-home mother," it would probably be "writer." Which, when I think about it, is very weird to me. I mean, I'm not a writer. I'm just another girl with a blog.

But I am writing all the time, even if I'm not clicking that PUBLISH POST button afterwards. Sometimes it's just a few lines in a Moleskine about how Westley threw up for the first time in his almost 21-month-old life on Wednesday night. Or how I had a random aww-I-love-my-family moment looking at Rob's old glasses that were recently repurposed as a fun distraction for Westley. Usually it's just a grocery list, but I remind myself that that, too, is a form of writing--poetry even, according to my college professor who would read found shopping and to-do lists aloud for his poetry students.

When worthwhile Jessica tagged me for the "Call Yourself a Writer?" meme (from Linda at You've Got Your Hands Full), I thought I'd make an exception to my blogging-less weekend and think a little bit about the writer I kind of am, the writers I love, and the writer I want to be.

Unfortunately, I can't make this meme a "hehe" for Westley. He doesn't write...yet. (I suspect we'll be in trouble when he starts.) But since it was being pregnant with him that finally re-launched me into writing and blogging, I think it's fair to say that he's represented here.

Which words do you use too much in your writing?
probably, basically, of course

(But more than overusing individual words, I probably certainly use parenthetical phrases and italics way too often.*)

Which words do you consider overused in stuff you read?
wine, coffee, dammit**

What's your favourite piece of writing by you?
As much as I love writing about sex, I'm pretty partial to this post, which was written on the anniversary of my (no longer so) super-secret wedding. (So partial, in fact, that I quote myself here.)

What blog post do you wish you'd written?
For me, it's not so much about specific posts, but more about the experiences behind them. Less "Wow, I wish I'd written that" and more "Wow, I wish that had happened to me."

However, the ability to produce excellent parody is a sign of genius in my world-view, so I do have to admit to wishing The Dude as Dad (Sweet Juniper) and I Like Clean Butts (Girl's Gone Child) were my creations.

Regrets, do you have a few? Is there anything you wish you hadn't written?
Yes! But mostly I regret not writing. I regret all of those times I didn't jot down a note or a thought or a memory. I regret opting for literature classes over writing classes. I regret rushing through projects and turning in shitty first drafts instead of polished prose. I'm not sure there's anything on this blog that I truly regret writing (though there are some shitty first drafts here). And yes, there are things I wish I hadn't written ever.

How has your writing made a difference? What do you consider your most important piece of writing?
My writing definitely makes a difference to me. Writing is something that moves at my pace, because it has to. Unless I've set a writing goal for myself or I'm writing for someone else, I'm never behind. Writing keeps me from having to hold all these words and phrases in my head. It makes me feel less itchy inside.

Sometimes I write things because I feel like no one else is writing them, like this Valentine's Day post. I feel like those things are important, and I can only hope they make a difference to someone other than me. Mostly, I write because it gets the stuck language out of me.

Name three favourite words
blatant, pre-conscious, mesmerizing

...And three words you're not so keen on
luminous, dabble, dreamy

Do you have a writing mentor, role model or inspiration?
Anne Lamott is probably best known for her memoir Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year, but it was her book Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life that was so inspiring to me--as a writer and as a mother. Bird by Bird is where I get the phrase "shitty first draft," which is an idea I apply to life (parenting life, in particular) as well as writing. Don't know how to start? Just write the shitty first draft! Annie*** also has a way of portraying real people so that they feel like fictional characters. That might sound like a backhanded compliment, but I just mean that the people in her memoirs seem somehow familiar to the readers. She's so adept in describing someone she's known all her life that after a few pages, I feel like I've known that person all my life, too.

Someone who is actually closer to a fictional character than a real person, and also a writer I truly admire, is Carrie Fisher. I don't need to tell you what she's best known for. Her novel Surrender the Pink sounds like the inside of my head. I wish I'd written it.

My blogger role model, if I had to pick one, is Liz of Mom-101. She writes about the everyday, the political, and the extraordinary with equal grace, wit, and intelligence. I don't care what her banner says: she gets it. My blog wants to be hers when it grows up.

What's your writing ambition?
I want to tell my story as truthfully as possible and maybe make it a little bit interesting, and with some luck, funny. (Naturally, I wouldn't complain if someone wanted to pay me to write something I care about writing.)

What is the best compliment you've ever gotten about your writing?
When Rob laughs out loud at something I've written, I know I'm on the right track.

Tag! You're it!

If you have time to do this meme, then please link to my original, then link to three to five other bloggers and pass it on, asking them to answer your questions and link to you. You can add, remove or change one question as you go. You absolutely do not have to be what you may think of as a "published" or "successful" writer to respond to this meme, I hope people can take the time to reflect on what their blogging has brought them and how it has been useful to others.

Here's some questions for all of you, tagged or otherwise: Do you consider yourself a writer? What do you think qualifies someone for the title of "writer"? I'm looking forward to your comments.

*I'm also discovering a passion for footnotes.
**Sounds like the name of a blog, doesn't it?
***I get to call her "Annie," because we're, like, total BFFs in my head.