Friday, August 1, 2014

Too Many Blogs *Update*


I did it! I finally did it. I finally decided to get rid of some of my blogs. I only kept three; The Single Mommy Blog, my arts and crafts blog, and this one.

I got rid of my feminism blog, my book review blog, and my BPD blog.

I had only a few posts on the feminism blog so setting it to delete wasn't a big deal.

Letting go of my book review blog actually feels freeing. It feels so freeing to be able to read whatever I want and not have to worry about keeping up with all of those reading challenges. I always picked way too many and could never keep up with them. Reading is supposed to be fun! Instead I was always stressed out because I couldn't post book reviews as often as all the other book review blogs seemed to.

I've been wanting to delete my BPD blog for awhile now. I thought that writing about my issues would be therapeutic but instead I mostly felt really uncomfortable sharing such private information about myself. I will never hide the fact that I have borderline personality disorder and struggle with depression, but blogging about it just wasn't the experience I was hoping it would be.

I don't know if having less blogs will make me a better blogger or writer. I do know that I feel less stressed already. Giving my brain a few less things to have to worry about certainly can't be a bad thing.

Maybe I've finally reached a point where I can make choices about where to focus my energy. Maybe it shows that I'm growing as a person and as a writer. For me, letting go of these blogs is huge. HUGE!

P.S. I'm going back to the name The Single Mommy Writer. Betty Friedan had her platform and I have mine.

*Update* I decided to keep the book review blog after all. I feel more motivated to read having the challenges.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Are Mom Bloggers the New Housewife Writer?


"'Laugh," the Housewife Writers tell the real housewife, 'if you are feeling desperate, empty, bored, trapped in bedmaking, chauffeuring, and dishwashing details. Isn't it funny? We're all in the same trap.' Do real housewives then dissipate to laughter their dreams and their sense of desperation? Do they think their frustrated abilities and limited lives are a joke?"
                                                                              The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan

I read these sentences and it was like everything about my attempt at a writing career instantly became clear. I figured out the answer to why my writers block won't go away and why I haven't been taking my writing career seriously. I figured out why all I ever do is blog. (Obviously not so much on this one but I do post regularly on my other blogs.)

The clues were always there. I even had added them all up but I refused to admit how I really felt. I stopped doing any serious writing after my husband died. Yes I've written that sentence a dozen times. The reality is there was always a second part to that sentence that I refused to acknowledge. The real, full sentence is this:

I stopped doing any serious writing after my husband died and I became a mom blogger.

There it is. There is the truth. And it took reading a book on feminism written in 1963 to realize it.

You see, I've been carrying around a secret for a long time now that I refused to admit even to myself. I never set out to be just a mom blogger and I'm extremely disappointed in myself that this is only what I've been doing. I wanted to write the Great American Novel and here it is years later and I'm still blogging.

I never wanted to be known for The Single Mommy Blog. I wanted to write fiction. No I want to write fiction. The plan was to create a blog and write about writing my novel. The plan was never to stay stuck as a mom blogger. Like the Betty Friedan quote implies, I have bigger dreams. 

I admit, at first, I was offended by Friedan implying that as a mom blogger I am laughing about how hard being a parent is and that there's something wrong with that. I don't think she's saying it's not okay to laugh at the craziness we endure as parents. I do think she's saying don't hide behind the joke and that laughter when what you really want is something more. 

Don't get me wrong. I am not by any means saying there is anything wrong with being a mom blogger. The problem is I've refused to take myself seriously as something more than that. I can't help but wonder if I sold out and abandoned my dream to be a serious writer when I decided that my blog need some kind of "mommy" hook. Calling this blog The Single Mommy Writer seemed like the right thing to do at the time. I wanted something to set me apart from the other writing blogs.

However, what does it say about myself that I feel I need the word "mommy" in the title to identify myself? Why isn't being Julie Cornewell enough? 

While I don't plan on changing the title of my blogs The Single Mommy Blog or Mom is a Feminist I do think I at least owe it to myself to keep this blog about me, the writer. After all, this writing blog is supposed to be about my career not being a parent. 

I want to repeat that for emphasis. This writing blog is about my career not being a parent.

Now unlike Betty Friedan in The Feminine Mystique, I think balance can be found with being a homemaker and a career woman. So far in the book, Friedan seems to imply that it's an either or choice. I don't know if I agree that women can "have it all" but I do believe woman can achieve balance in their lives. I want to write about finding that balance. However, it seems repetitive to write about being a mommy on two different blogs. I don't write about my career on The Single Mommy Blog, so why would I write about being a mommy on my writing career blog?

Betty Freidan probably hates the term "mom blogger." I don't hate it. I don't even mind being called a mom blogger. What I do mind is that I feel I have pigeonholed myself into being just a mom blogger. I have identified so much with being a mom blogger that I have abandoned my dreams of having a novel published. I have joked and laughed off my "desperation" to have a serious writing career. My dream to have a published novel isn't a joke. 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Writing Blog - You're Doing It Wrong


I hardly post on this blog and that is a serious problem. It's not that I hardly blog. I have other blogs. I write essays, opinion pieces, and articles regularly for those blogs. Yet I can never think of what to write on this one. 

I've spent a lot of time trying to figure out why this is. Why is it I have no problem writing a post about parenting, mental illness, or a book review but I am unable to think of content ideas for this blog? 

Today I finally realized why and I had to make an embarrassing confession. The truth is I have no idea what I'm doing. I don't know how to write a writing blog. 

I decided to do some research and found an article called Sacred Cow Tipping - Why Writers Blogging About Writing is Bad. The article made me realize the problem is far bigger than I imagined. It's not just about my lack of content.

Kristen Lamb's brilliant truth is this: "We don't need a writing blog, we need an US blog." Basically she says you need to write about what you are passionate about and if you write that you will get followers. Those followers will be interested in your books because of that passionate topic. If you think they will be interested in your books simply because you are a writer, think again.

I know this to be true. I have the numbers to prove it. My blog The Single Mommy Blog has eight times as many views as this blog. The Single Mommy Blog is my blog about me. So much so that when people ask me what I do for a living, I tell then I am a writer and blogger. The blog I share with them isn't this one. Instead I tell them about The Single Mommy Blog. 

According the article, that is the very reason my writing blog is failing. I'm not tying my writing blog to The Single Mommy Blog. I don't have an angle, a hook, or something that seperates me from the other writing blogs out there. Nobody knows who Julie Cornewell is and they probably don't care but if I had something that identifies myself in a different way that makes me stand out...they just might show more interest.

I did once. For awhile the title of my writing blog was The Single Mommy Writer. The idea was to write the blog from the point of view of a single mother trying to establish her writing career. It felt perfect because The Single Mommy Blog is about my personal experiences as a parent while I could talk about having a career and being a professional here. (Although when you are a writer who works from home it's pretty hard to separate the two.)

What's crazy is that before I even finished typing that last sentence I had an idea for a blog post. My 15 month old daughter loves pushing the buttons on the laptop keyboard when I'm trying to write. I know that post would that be far more interesting than a strait report on my progress on a writing project. 

If I am interpreting Kristen Lamb's advice correctly what I need to do is combine the two. The trick is to write about writing without just writing about writing. Or in other words, I need to return to being The Single Mommy Writes or come up with some other title that incorporates being a single mommy. Then I need to start writing posts from the angle of being a single mother.

The good news is I don't have to completely reinvent my blog. The bad news is I once was doing it right and second guessed myself. Because of that, I wasted a lot of time doing things that worked against me as a writer trying to establish my platform.

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Artist's Way: Week 3 Check-in...A Month Later Again


Well, I keep taking a month to get each week done. I suppose this isn't necessarily a bad thing. Okay, it is but I'm just trying to make myself feel better.

1. How many days this w̶e̶e̶k̶  month did you do your Morning Pages?

Seven

2. Did you do your Artist's Date this w̶e̶e̶k̶  month?

Yes. I haven't been in a bookstore just to browse in a few months and finally went. It used to be something I did on a weekly basis but when the book buying started getting out of hand I had to stick with the library. The library I visit at about 2 or 3 times a week.

3. Where there any other issues this w̶e̶e̶k̶  month that you consider significant for your recovery?

I haven't done much work on my Camp NaNoWriMo project but I've started blogging regularly. I've set up weekly memes so that I post often. They require discipline so I am finally working on that aspect. I want to translate it to working on writing projects.

Also I don't think I've ever been as blocked as I thought I was. I may not have been writing poems, stories, or a novel but I was writing book reviews and essays on my blogs. THAT IS WRITING! For some reason I've just never taken my blogging seriously. Now I am.

I'm starting to wonder if maybe me genre of writing is blogging. Maybe it's time to let go of this crazy dream of writing "the great American novel." Maybe being a blogger is my niche. There's nothing wrong with that in 21st century.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Writer's Block Pwned!


 Just a quick post to share that today I wrote part of a short story and on the 1st I wrote a poem. In total, I have written 2184 words so far. I'm pretty proud of my progress.

I'm also wondering if maybe I was somewhat wrong. Maybe there is some truth to writer's block being kind of bull. Maybe it's really just a self-fulfilling prophecy. And once you decide you don't want to be blocked anymore, you just aren't.

Maybe I should see how well I do for the rest of Camp NaNoWriMo and NaPoWriMo before I shout to the whole blogosphere that my writer's block has been cured. 

Still...I've made some progress. That's something.

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

NaPoWriMo 2014 Day 1 - Write a poem that is ekphrastic poem

I Lost My Favorite Painting

When I was in the black and the monster was sitting on my chest
I came across this painting that was a gory mess
In it rotting flesh and putrid slime were covering the walls
At the end of a labyrinth where a door was at the end of a hall
There sat the opening of the maze where one could finally escape
Where all the nightmares of one's past were laid
The sun could be seen shining brightly with all the evil washed away
Where only joy and happiness would be felt the rest of one's days

But instead of the dark figure sprinting for the door
There he had collapsed against the wall amongst the gore
He was swallowed by the despair he felt and no longer had hope
He had lost the will to escape and in the dark there was nothing more to grope
The worst was not the filth and guts or the dark or anything he had known
The worst part of this whole vision was the man was all alone

I have never had a piece of art reach inside me and not let go
But this painting took all my secrets and back to me they were shown
This painting felt like a mirror of my deepest darkest hell
The daily life I was living inside my head that no one did I dare tell
I thought this innerscape was only mine but someone else knew
A stranger artist I had never met had seen it too

I did not have a real copy of this nightmare of mine
It was saved in the memory of a thousand wires to find
Things with boards and chips and such have a tendency to break
And so my mirror vanished without a trace
My memory holding the name and artist had also disappeared
But in its place was hope and joy and the absence of fear
I wonder if the painting getting lost was not chance but fate
My outside world reflecting a brand new inner healthy place

Yet the real me, the deep dark me, the me I never share
Because the painting was lost has felt a new kind of despair
There was something so beautiful in the grotesque
Something real in my true self that never really left
This longing has never gone away nor the inner dread
That the true me is not really living here but in the painting
     alone and dead.

Monday, March 31, 2014

I've Been Assigned a Cabin!


I have cabin mates! I thought it would be fun to share their different links. But before I do that I'm panicking just a little. I can't figure out how to change my word count goal and right now it's 50,000 words. I want to break my writer's blog but I also don't want to set the bar too high. I planned on having a goal of 10,000 words and anything I do beyond that would just be gravy, the icing on the cake, and a bonus. (When I'm nervous I speak in cliches.) 

*searches through profile and novel settings overlooking it about 3 times*

Whew! I found where I can change the word count goal. That was a close one! 

Here are my cabin mates and their links: 



rexcaliburr @ deviantart




There are more cabin mates but they didn't provide any links. 

The ages just boggle my mind. Most of my cabin mates are teenagers. I didn't think about writing novels when I was a young teenager. I was busy being boy crazy and making mix tapes (the 90's version of pirating music). I think it's awesome that these kids are doing this. They even have blogs! Half of my fun will be seeing how well these teenagers do. 

Here is the break down by ages. 

Four of my cabin mates are 14 years old. There's two 15 year olds. Two 33 year olds. I'm 38 yrs old and there's one 41 year old.

I was hoping for at least one twentysomething in there to balance us out a little. What's that saying? Never trust anyone over 30? 

*searches on Google*

Oh I was close! It's "don't trust anyone over 30" by Jack Weinberg.

Five Blogging Mistakes I Know I am Committing

My goal for this creating this blog was to journal about my writing adventures and to create a writing platform. Unfortunately, much of what I've been doing (or haven't been doing) is killing my chances of establishing a solid platform.

1. Not blogging enough, even leaving the blog sit not updated for weeks

This is basically the worst mistake a blogger can commit. I not only commit this offense, I commit it regularly. There has always been something that just screams unprofessional about my blog. I feel like I have no idea what I'm doing most of the time. It's evidence that I don't stick with things and what's actually worse is that my blog posts that I finally do share are usually me whining about how I don't finish anything.

2. You complain and whine

I complain and whine about how I'm not writing and have writer's block. It's gotten old. Really old. Sometimes I think I can feel every person that finds my blog rolling their eyes at me. Or maybe that's just me rolling my eyes at myself.

3. Trying to maintain too many blogs

I am definately guilty of this one. Right now I have five blogs. There's this blog, The Single Mommy Blog, Julie is Creating, Alice in Borderland, and Books Are Portable Magic.

Guess how many have been updated in the last week? (Okay, honestly it's the last month.) Only this one. I either need to get rid of them or update them weekly. I've made schedules for updating them weekly but I haven't actually kept to the schedule. Obviously.

4. Not visiting other writing blogs and leaving comments

I think for me this mistake goes back to the problem of having too many blogs. In order to promote each blog I have to visit a different genre of blogs. Who has time to network with writing blogs, art blogs, parenting blogs, and mental illness blogs? When I put it like that I realize that not only am I probably trying to maintain far more than I can handle, I just might be a little crazy.

5. Posting unpublished works

This mistake I'm honestly confused about. If I'm a writer, don't I want to post some of my work so the reader gets and idea of what I write? I guess it's fine to post stories, essays, and poems as long as they meet two criteria: 1. I never actually intend to publish them and 2. They don't suck.

However, it seems there are these things called blogfests which are great for sharing your work. I'm familiar with the idea of a blog party and it turns out a blogfest is basically a writer's version of a blog party. Unlike regular writing prompt blogs, a blogfest happens on a certain date and has a theme. Prompt blogs post as often as daily but a blogfest can be centered around a season or holiday or be done monthly. Sometimes they are simply referred to as a challenge.

A variation of the blog party/blogfest is the bloghop. A bloghop happens usually every week or month. The point of it is to help others find your blog and help you find them. Sometimes there are requirements to be able to participate in the bloghop such as posting the badge on your blog, writing a blogpost about the bloghop, following the host blog and any featured blogs, or posting about a specific theme.

The blog party, blogfest, and bloghop are all great ways to get people to find your blog.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Camp NaNoWriMo


I know. I know. You're laughing at the prospect of me attempting yet another NaNoWriMo project. You're pointing out how just hours ago I was ranting about my years long writer's block and now I'm going to write 10,000 words in the month of April? (Yep, you read that right. The mininum for Camp NaNoWriMo isn't 50,000 words. It's only 10,000!)

Well I'm certainly going to try. (Do or do not. There is no try.)

What I particularly like about Camp NaNoWriMo is that you can do any type of writing. You aren't limited to doing just novels.

I've always wanted to write a short story series about characters that are connected in different ways. It's a project that I always thought would be really fun to do. So despite my writer's block I feel excited about this project.

But don't I always? I always feel initially excited but then something happens when I go to do the actual writing. I want to face those demons. I want to chase them down and kick their ass.

Regardless of the reasons for my writer's block, I know one undeniable thing: The only way to beat writer's block is to write!

And yes I will still do The Artist's Way. I know that may be asking a lot of myself but I'm not about to abandon a project just to start another one. Okay stop snickering. Yes, I know it took me a month to do two weeks of The Artist's Way. It's pretty hard to abandon something I barely even started.

Right now I'm reading Eckhart Tolle's A New Earth and in the book he says we have to "Evolve or die." It's true in so many ways, but especially about my writing. Either I will get my act together and become a productive writer (I'll worry about actually being published later) or I will die wishing I had. I don't want to die wishing that I had lived my dream. 

I'm scared. I'm worried that I will fail yet again. But I have to face that fear. Besides, it's Camp NaNoWrimo. It's supposed to be fun!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Mental Illness and Writer's Block


I decided to do some research and it seems I may have a form of obcessive complusive disorder called "just right OCD." According to the International  OCD Foundation“Just right” obsessions are thoughts and/or feelings that something is not quite right or that something is incomplete. For example, a “Just Right” obsession would be a person feeling that their hands are not quite clean when washing them. An example of a “Just Right” compulsion is a person washing their hands until the sense of “incompleteness” goes away.

They go on to explain "Just right OCD" can affect ones entire life or just one aspect of life. For me it's only one (Well maybe two. I have issues getting housework done but that's a post for another blog.)

Academic/Work Life: Again, those with more severe “just right” OCD may become stuck in many  activities – for instance, writing messages (may need to reword – or rewrite, if individual letters seem ‘off’); organizing tasks (i.e., unable to begin, because required objects are not in quite the right place); etc.

Other symptoms include:
  • perfectionism (e.g., concern over mistakes)
  • ‘obsessional slowness’ (i.e., loss of time due to obsessional ‘loops’)
  • ordering/arranging/symmetry behaviors/evening-up 
  • procrastination (i.e. “putting off” tasks)  
That describes me perfectly! However it leaves me even more confused. Do I continue working on my writer's block or do I work on these OCD symptoms?

Laurie Halse Anderson describes a form of writer's block that is OCD. Well sort of.

Obsessive Compulsive Writer’s Block – Whenever you sit down to write, you are seized by the uncontrollable urge to clean your oven, scrub your roof shingles, or alphabetize the entire Internet on a hand-crocheted doily that you will then use as the signature item in the Etsy store that you’re going to open in time for the holiday sales rush.

I am appalled and offended that she treats this kind of writer's block as some kind of joke. Unfortunately she also describes the cure for this writer's block as "simple." She suggests going for a run or doing something similar to calm your mind. She treats it as if it's just a manner of "smapping out of it." Well if it's OCD you cannot just snap out of it! OCD is a neurological condition. It's not just a cute nickname you give to a form of writer's block.

It's been over seven damn years! These so called little tricks of taking a walk or warming up just don't work for me. I'm dealing with something beyond your typical writer's block here. An article at WritingWorld.com describes my writer's block as "chronic writer's block." Chronic writer's block lasts beyond six months.

As if I wasn't pissed off already, while researching chronic writer's block I came across an essay called The Myth of Writer's Block. After ranting about the stupid cliche that blocked writer's become alcoholics this writer says "To sum up, writer’s block is only chronic if you lack the talent to write what you set out to write."

Or this comment:

The phrase writer’s block is an excuse that should be used only by the weak and delusional (or as lighthearted slang for “It’s cocktail time somewhere!”) Writer's Block: What I Believe by Michael Ruhlman 

Or this one:

Writer's Block? You're just lazy. from various sources

What jerks. That's verbally abusive. Why is is okay for them to say these things yet turn around and say things like "ignore the inner critic?" Don't they understand it's comments like these that form one's inner critic!? Why do so many people act like writer's block is just something you can snap out of, that you're making up, or that you're using as an excuse to be an alcoholic?

Is there anyone out there that takes writer's block seriously?

There is. I teared up a little when I saw a therapist address the issue of writer's block and cried tears of joy (not really) when I found Understanding Writer's Block: A Therapist's Guide to Diagnosis and Treatment by Martin Kantor. The book unfortunately is only excerpts but there are chapters on different mental illnesses and how they relate to writer's block.

One chapter is about personality disorders. According the excerpt, my creative disorder is mirroring my pathological character traits. In other words, my personality disorder. Perhaps it's not that I'm OCD at all but my borderline personality traits are being expressed through my writer's block. I've always suspected there was a connection. So maybe it's a matter of applying Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) skills to my writer's block?

I found a website called GoodTherapy.org that has some great articles addressing creative blocks from a psychological point of view. The website takes writer's block seriously as a a symptom of a person's mental illness or mental distress. Mindfulness (which is a part of DBT) is listed as a therapy that help with a creative block.

The odd thing is that when I researched "creative block" it was taken far more seriously than "writer's block."

"For a creative professional, a creative block isn’t just frustrating — it’s potentially career-damaging." 7 Types of Creative Block (and What to Do About Them)by Mark McGuinness

"Creative block presents the most crippling—and unfortunately universal—challenge for artists." Creative Block by Danielle Krysa

"Many artists fear their creativity will dry up - and often it does. But, says Professor Robert Winston, great composers have come through creative blocks to produce outstanding works. At least one, though, was driven to suicide by vanishing inspiration." How great artists have fought creative block at BBC

The composer who committed suicide over his creative block was Franz Schubert. I wonder how many people suggested he simply go for a walk to clear his head and told him his block was because he was lying, untalented, weak, or just lazy.

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