Sunday, June 1, 2008

The Good Old Days

The week before this past one, Rebecca was our Guest Editor (a wonderful journal, the best writing in J-land) from In The Shadow of the Iris and she was mentioning how long she had been journaling and how things had changed from the beginning. She cited some differences between now and then. Several days later, my mind was a blank and thoughts drifting in and out like clouds across the blue summer sky, squeezing the remote areas of my brain for some small inspiration for a journal entry when I remembered that in the beginning we were limited to only 2500 words.

2500 small, measly, meager words. This entire entry thus far is close to half of that allotment. What fancy editing was demanded. A word here, an adjective there. Still, too long. Wipe out that entire sentence! Finally, it fits. But, it makes no sense!

How many of us are still left that survived those days and did not just throw up our hands and say, "Heck, this is crazy!" and move on to Blogger, or Moveable Type etc. etc. etc.

Anyway, I just think its funny.

Reading Rebecca's latest entry made me think realize that I am not alone. I could never ever so eloquently express the reasons why the entries are becoming harder and longer spaced. It is easy to write about interesting stuff. Each of us has a large bag full of inspiring and funny stories, histories that are pleasant in sharing. After spending years pounding them out, they begin to run thin. So thin that suddenly I feel the real person, the honest to goodness ME is beginning to appear on the pages. Not the person I want you all to see, but the real one. She manages to slip out and make her presence known.

And that scares me. I'm not sure why that is. After all these years there has never been a knock on the door and I am served with a "Cease and Desist" order. Or someone knocks and I open the door and they are waving a gun at me. I have not had a knock on the door and opened it and been embarrassed by the steady stare of someone I have written about on these pages. I try to keep most people shielded. Or I did in the beginning when it seemed so important. No one from my family knows, and if they do, they don't let me know they know. Several times a year I receive an e-mail from someone (someone I always know) asking "Who are you?" after reading my "web site" (that's what the latest called it.)

But I have fallen on hard times when it comes to writing material. I am stripped as thin as I have ever been and down to bare bone. My father has died, my Aunt has died, my husband hated his job that brought us close to family and subsequently took a job that takes him 400 miles away from me. This is not good. I feel I am in a life and death struggle with my daughter. I have gained weight and feel like I can not go out and find a job because I look so fat and middle aged. Invisible.

So, even though I have a rich, uncultivated steady stream of remarkable writing material, I can not bring myself to do it!

Yet, I just did.

And thank God I am not limited to 2500 words or this never would have been written.


sunflowerkat321 said...

Dear Mary...

I think that all of us who have been here since the beginning have been through a myriad of ups and downs.  I don't write as frequently as I once did either, but when I want to be heard, I come here.  Since I've never considered myself a "writer", I think of my entries as an open letter where I share what's going on with a handful of people who care.  Remember in the old days when we cared about the hit counter?  Do you EVER look at that thing any more?  Do you even care?  I took mine out.

So, were the "good old days" so good?  In a way, I like it better now.  I'm not looking for readers, though I welcome them.  I know that the people that read are the people I've connected with on some level.  They're people who care.  They're people who shore me up.  They're people I want to hang on you.

myrdog said...

I remember when they first put ads on and so many people got angry and quit their journals. And I remember how frustrating it was to be limited to the amount of words. Some of my entries took two or three or four entries to be complete. I don't write very often either. I never did put much personal stuff on mine. Didn't think it was interesting enough.

rdautumnsage said...

Rebecca and I have been writing one another for some time now, she is an amazing person. I've only been at this for the past year and a half, well is beginning to already run dry. I have to ask myself how deep are you willing to go? I've gone a week here and there with nothing to say or write. I started second guessing my words, my intent...then some days a friend will email or a comment gets left that reminds me, thats what it's about. The ability to reach out with the mere presence of words and touch someone and have them respond in kind. In the end it's some kind of wonderful. I'm sorry life is dealing you a rather harsh hand at the moment, just know someone out here is listening and your in my thoughts. (Hugs) Indigo

mutualaide said...

Now this?  This was an interesting entry.  I remember in the early days writing about my father and the pear tree.  I did not know how limited the words were at the time ... I must have missed reading that little disclaimer.  Well, I wrote the story and it was ... perfect.  I saved it my journal and got the message I was over my allotment.  I rewrote.  And rewrote.  And rewrote until that story no longer seemed remotely as the days events unfolded.

I gave up and deleted.  And to this day, four years later I still cannot make myself write it again.  

mlraminiak said...

Yes, there are a few of us left.  And some of us are the ones who never were in the j-land limelight.  Scorned it, in a way.  

I remember those 2500 word entries.  Actually, when I look back on it, it was a remarkable exercise.  I became very proficient at editing, getting rid of the extraneous bullshit and still getting my point across.  It was almost like poetry, back then in the olden days.

I'm sorry you've fallen on some hard times.  It's funny...for some of us like ME, those are the times we are at our most prolific, writing-wise.  My personal point of view has always been "the glass is half empty."  I do my best writing when things suck.  Maybe that's why nobody reads.  LOL!

You on the other hand, have always had a meet-'em-head-on, positive slant to your writing.  It seems your muse is most active when things are good and you're feeling effusive and magnanimous.  When things are bad, you're not inspired.  

That's okay.  Because I suspect you'll always land on your feet and come back to us with your stories.

Lisa  :-]

jmorancoyle said...

    Wait a minute. You just wrote my story of late. The best I have is out there, locked up in earlier entries. Try as I might, I truly don't have the will to keep it up as I use to.

slapinions said...

I think the limit was originally 2500 characters, not words.

I'm sorry you're so down, and things do sound like they're in the proverbial shitter for you. I hope things turn around.

That being said you just wrote 589 attention-grabbing words on how you have nothing to write about. Sure it gets harder to write and the ol' well dries up - I've been dreading the keyboard for the last week myself - but you have a heck of a gift. It seems a shame to let that wither away.

If nothing else, make stuff up. It worked for James Frey ;)