Posted in complaint department, writing

Coming Clean

I need to get something off my chest. It’s been bothering me for decades now, and that’s not good. But I have decided coming clean will free me up to be guilty about other aspects of my life.

I have a degree in English. It’s actually an English Lit degree with a minor in writing, based on what I studied. Sounds impressive, huh? I wanted a degree in creative writing, but couldn’t afford any of the colleges that offered that degree. Specifically Emerson. Oh how I wanted to go to Emerson.

So I spent four years at a private Catholic college deep in the heart of Connecticut, studying prose and poetry. I have the paperwork that proves I did.

However, I know nothing about literature. I know what I like to read, but I don’t know why I like it. I don’t know anything. I can’t believe I faked my way through college like that. I couldn’t tell you why the Great Novels are great. I don’t even like most of Shakespeare. I suck at English Lit.

Because I have this degree and I feel like certain things are expected of me, especially when I write. That’s the part that throws me into a panic. I keep thinking that having this degree should make me a better writer, but I don’t think it does. I fear it doesn’t. I don’t even like to talk with people who are actually good at this stuff because it’s so intimidating to me. How did I get through four years of college learning to analyze literature and not like good literature? I don’t even have drugs to blame this on, as I am clean as a whistle. I mean, I’m betting the Pope has smoked more pot than I have (which is none).

So the funny thing about this is that I used to write a lot of poetry. I edited my college’s literary magazine my junior and senior years. And get this! I have actually had a poetry reading (with a professor of mine and a friend of his) in a real live bookstore in Hartford. My parents even drove down for that one, which was fun because it was an “alternative lifestyle” bookstore run by some ex-nuns. This was 1987 or so, and I think my parents were shell-shocked, but maybe not.

So even as I’m being asked to participate in a public reading of my poetry, I’m convinced it’s absolute shit, because I cannot tell if it is or not. I like what I’ve written, but I like a lot of things that aren’t good. I enjoy crappy romance novels like there is no tomorrow. I find slogging through most of Dickens a chore (I enjoy the movie versions, though). I have no idea if my poetry is any good, and I’m afraid to find out. One of the other poets had written stuff that sounded completely alien to me. Where his poems good? I have no freaking idea. I didn’t think so, but I think he’d had books published, and I was selling computers, so who was I to judge with my unjustly-earned lit degree?

15 years ago, I actually had my own e-zine called “Block Lines”. Remember those? I was so cool. I published poetry I liked (and some of my own, but other people’s poetry as well.) I don’t know if I was a good editor (I didn’t really edit, I just selected what to publish) but it seemed like a hip, happening way to get some of my work out there. I had a lot of fun with it until I got pregnant and exhausted and put it on hiatus. For 15 years.

Every year as my birthday gets closer, I get a burst of inspiration to write, and this year, for the first time in a decade, I’ve been writing poetry again. I’m not going to share it here because I’m still too terrified that it’s crap. Well, I’m not terrified that it’s crap, I’m terrified that YOU will find out it’s crap.

So that’s what I wanted to come clean about. I’m a possibly crappy writer who can’t use the skills her degree should have given her to validate one way or the other the quality of her writing. There. I’ll start to feel better any minute now.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go write a crappy poem about how this makes me feel.

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Posted in humor, lists

Useless Writing Advice

I do not have the ability to give advice on being a better writer. I have the ability to give advice on just about anything and everything else, including how to choose a tomato (no skin flaws and it should smell like a tomato), but being  better writer? Well, I suppose I could try, if that’s what you’d like.

Expensive Equipment Helps Create Better Prose

I think this is a gimme. You need the most expensive writing equipment you can find. Take out loans. You need top of the line everything. There’s a pen for sale at the local mall for $10,000. You need that pen. Everything you write with that Bic you stole from a waitress is pure crap. Gerbils can’t even be bothered to shred the paper you write on with your less-than-10k pen. You’ll also need a top of the line Mac laptop, iPad and an iPhone 4. As for the latter, if it isn’t white, you should go turn in your MFA.

Live in a Home with a Real Working Fireplace

If you can’t simulate the working conditions of Charles Dickens or Emily Bronte, what hope do you have of ever convincing a soul that your writing is even passable? You need the sound of a crackling fire as background noise. You need to poke at the embers when you’re having a hard time trying to come up with a new way to describe the angst of the twenty-something. You should just stop writing and call a Realtor. Now.

Burn Candles that Smell Like Lemons

This is a controversial one. I know there are people who would argue with me on this, but you’ve come to me for useless writing advice, so you had best listen to me. Get some lemon-scented candles. You see, what these will do is to trigger strong memories of your mother/aunt/grandmother with the Lemon Pledge obsession and you will get some great material out of remember how much you hated that your mother/aunt/grandmother couldn’t cook/clean/express love. It’s great stuff!

Buy New Camera Equipment

I don’t know that it will really help your writing, but I’m trying to justify a few purchases I’ve made in the past year, so just indulge me, would you?

Get a Metric Ton of Sleep. Nap Like You Mean It.

I can’t say enough about naps and sleeping. I bought flannel sheets and I could live in my bed for the rest of my life. I could be Grandma Georgina, and we would start to wonder again how the four elderly people who never left the bed went to the bathroom after eating cabbage soup 3 meals a day. I promise not to eat cabbage, but I still will probably need to go to the bathroom. Some things can’t be helped.

I think this will help you write better. I won’t know, because I’ll be too busy sleeping to read your book.

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Posted in humor, lists

Useless Writing Advice

I do not have the ability to give advice on being a better writer. I have the ability to give advice on just about anything and everything else, including how to choose a tomato (no skin flaws and it should smell like a tomato), but being  better writer? Well, I suppose I could try, if that’s what you’d like.

Expensive Equipment Helps Create Better Prose

I think this is a gimme. You need the most expensive writing equipment you can find. Take out loans. You need top of the line everything. There’s a pen for sale at the local mall for $10,000. You need that pen. Everything you write with that Bic you stole from a waitress is pure crap. Gerbils can’t even be bothered to shred the paper you write on with your less-than-10k pen. You’ll also need a top of the line Mac laptop, iPad and an iPhone 4. As for the latter, if it isn’t white, you should go turn in your MFA.

Live in a Home with a Real Working Fireplace

If you can’t simulate the working conditions of Charles Dickens or Emily Bronte, what hope do you have of ever convincing a soul that your writing is even passable? You need the sound of a crackling fire as background noise. You need to poke at the embers when you’re having a hard time trying to come up with a new way to describe the angst of the twenty-something. You should just stop writing and call a Realtor. Now.

Burn Candles that Smell Like Lemons

This is a controversial one. I know there are people who would argue with me on this, but you’ve come to me for useless writing advice, so you had best listen to me. Get some lemon-scented candles. You see, what these will do is to trigger strong memories of your mother/aunt/grandmother with the Lemon Pledge obsession and you will get some great material out of remember how much you hated that your mother/aunt/grandmother couldn’t cook/clean/express love. It’s great stuff!

Buy New Camera Equipment

I don’t know that it will really help your writing, but I’m trying to justify a few purchases I’ve made in the past year, so just indulge me, would you?

Get a Metric Ton of Sleep. Nap Like You Mean It.

I can’t say enough about naps and sleeping. I bought flannel sheets and I could live in my bed for the rest of my life. I could be Grandma Georgina, and we would start to wonder again how the four elderly people who never left the bed went to the bathroom after eating cabbage soup 3 meals a day. I promise not to eat cabbage, but I still will probably need to go to the bathroom. Some things can’t be helped.

I think this will help you write better. I won’t know, because I’ll be too busy sleeping to read your book.

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Posted in complaint department, humor

The Secret to Attracting Spammers

I have been on the Internet for about 16 years now. The Internet as we define it today. Prior to that, I ran a BBS out of my bedroom on a dedicated phone line. One person could be logged in at a time. It was great fun, but can you even imagine if the Internet could only support one user at a time? I’d be so annoyed at the busy signals!

Since moving to WordPress (when Blogger inexplicably kicked anyone with their own domain and server space to the curb – Ev wouldn’t have let this happen back when he owned the company. Back then, I even paid extra for my level of membership, because I thought it was worth it. But I seriously digress.) I haven’t had much trouble with spammers. I actually haven’t had many comments at all. Or readers. I think that might be my fault, for neglecting the site while I went crazy playing with Twitter. Banging out 140 characters is easy. Writing longer pieces takes more work, and who on earth wants to have to put effort into anything these days? Hell, I just watched an episode of Victorious on Nick because it was set to record on the DVR and the TV changed channels and I was too lazy to get up to find the remote. That would be work.

And then, Loyal Reader Angie pointed out in an email that my comment functionality was turned off. That happened during an upgrade, I swear. So I think I fixed it. Well, I know I did, because I’ve gotten hammered (for me, anyway) with spammy comments on one single item on the blog. Not across all articles, just on the one. You don’t see them because I set all comments to be approved by me until you’ve previously had one approved. The post in question was about a little Mexican girl who hangs out with a monkey and a backpack. I won’t mention her name because I don’t want to have the spammers attack this post. Of course, they could have picked the word monkey as a trigger and now this one will be a problem too. We’ll see.

So in conclusion, if you want spammers, write about Ora-day. She’s popular.

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