Tag Archives: Writing

Why Blog?

Last night I went out for beers with my visiting friend D: the colleague and drinking buddy I wrote about often until he had the audacity to finish his MFA and move to a different time zone.

For the sake of consistency and nostalgia, we talked about our love lives. I told him that I still haven’t figured out when it’s appropriate for me to inform a potential love interest about my blog.

“Is it okay to wait until at least a second date to tell someone?” I asked.

“Of course!” he assured me. “A girl once didn’t tell me until our second date that she had herpes!”

And so–in hearing my occupation as a blogger compared to a sexually transmitted disease–I, for the approximately third time in thirty-six hours, seriously questioned the prudence of this entire enterprise.

Well, not exactly the entire enterprise. More the particular enterprise of my writing being so focused on my love life.

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What You Want?

Here is a sampling of some of the criticisms I received from peers in my workshop last week:

“I’m still not sure what you’re looking for, Elizabeth.”

“It’s unclear to me what you want.”

“The narrator is looking for an ideal relationship–but what would that ideal relationship look like?”

You get the idea.

The funny thing is that I actually sat down, several times, in the few days since with the completely sincere intent of integrating this theme of “what I want” into my essay.

As often happens when I sit down to write or revise, I distracted myself with various, obvious, internet activity: mindless Facebook browsing, food blog checking, nytimes.com scanning.

I just figured it was the usual lack of motivation and discipline that was obstructing me from penetrating this clearly crucial theme. I thought I was just too unfocused to sit down and articulate my basic, evident desires. Continue reading


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Inventory: Counting All the Men Left

The thing about dating, and being single, is that it’s really hard not to spend a lot of time feeling hopeless. You meet someone, you reject them or they reject you, and–no matter how many times it happens–you always manage to feel as though there is absolutely no one else around.

This feeling can be particularly acute in a smaller city, where it sometimes seems as though you’ve seen everyone in town at least once, and the ones you find attractive–you’ve already dated.

Perhaps, in some very small towns, this is actually true. But, as I reminded S last night, it usually is not the case–and for us, it definitely isn’t.

“I think we forgot how big this city actually is,” I said. “Just because we see the same people over and over again we assume that we’ve seen everyone. But I think there are a lot of men here who we haven’t yet come across.”

“It’s true,” she said, attempting morale.

The thing is that I only thought to say this because S said something very similar recently to me. Her words, as they often do,  resonated so much that I wrote about them–not on the blog, but in a nonfiction essay I’m working on.

This essay, which is the closest thing to a blog post I’ve attempted in longer form (much longer: my average post is 700 words, this piece is close to 5,000) got workshopped last night.

For the uninitiated, this means that a group of about ten people sat around a table telling me–sitting by with a virtual piece of duct tape over my mouth–a lot about what’s not working (and a little about what is) in what I’ve written.

As you might imagine, there’s a lot in this essay that’s not working. But that particular moment, the one in which S imparts her wisdom, is one that many people agreed worked well.

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Everybody Gets Rejected. Right?

It happens. We–all of us, I think–get rejected.

As my NY best friend S assured me last night, after I’d capped a rejection-filled weekend with getting pulled over by Corrales’ crankiest sheriff for going ten miles over the speed limit only to realize that the  insurance card I had on hand was expired, it often comes in waves.

“You rejected a few people, now it’s happening to you,” she counseled.

And yet, this quantitative knowledge does not make it any easier, any less mood-crushing, any less demoralizing when it happens to you.

This morning, by way of trying to make myself feel better, I recalled something I said a while back to another friend when a guy she liked and had seen a few times told her–in a manner admirably, if a bit painfully, frank–that he just wasn’t that into her.

“I know it’s impossible,” I told her, “but you can’t take it personally. Maybe he likes blondes, or women who are stupid. Maybe he wants to date somebody from Kansas with twelve toes. Who knows?”

“Just because he isn’t attracted to you,” I said, “does not mean that you are not (very, very) attractive.”

How about we all write that on the proverbial chalkboard a few hundred times until it sticks?

Because, as I also tried to remind myself this morning, who among us doesn’t reject people for completely ridiculous reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with said person’s inherent physical, emotional or intellectual value?

Certainly, I do it all the time. I reject people because they aren’t mean enough. Because they remind me of someone I don’t want to be reminded of when I’m making out. Because their voice is a little bit too high or too low. I think I once rejected a guy cause I thought he was too good-looking. (I know, Robbie: and I wonder why I’m single. But alas, we’ve been over this.)

Also, I’m pretty sure I’ve never rejected someone because I thought they could stand to lose five pounds. I’m just saying.

The things that make us attracted to certain people and not others are idiosyncratic. They’re often unexpected and sometimes strange.  It is a mysterious science, this.

And that’s something I recommend we remind ourselves of in those moments when we are tempted to peg our entire self-worth on the determination of a person that, chances are, we hardly know. And whose lack of interest probably has a lot more to do with them than it does with us.

But I understand that it is one thing to grasp this notion intellectually and another to not feel like a worthless piece of dull, chubby crap.

Which is why I also recommend–in these predicaments–going out for soft serve (preferably Dairy Queen, preferably topped with hot fudge) along with a few sympathetic girlfriends.

And talking to other, non-local but equally sympathetic, girlfriends on the phone.

And, if appropriate, reminding yourself that while people may be entitled to opt out of dating you, they generally lack the privilege to opt out of being included and perhaps humiliated in your future writing.

I’m just saying.


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What Do You Do When…

So: what do you do when fall comes, you’re enrolled in a creative writing program, you write a blog, and you have absolutely no inspiration to write?

In short, you inhabit a constant state of guilt and panic about the things you aren’t writing. (Especially the magnificent silence you produce in response to a massive New York Times Magazine feature addressing exactly your subject matter and on which seemingly everyone on the internet has at least 140 characters to say.)

You allow yourself to focus on various other tasks that more readily demand attention, like planning classes and making attendance spreadsheets and doing your own reading multiple times because you were too distracted the first few contemplating bad essay ideas and thinking about how unproductive you are. You try and reassure yourself that you aren’t the only person in the world who is deadline-driven, and attempt to ignore the comment made by one of your professors that usually, people who say they write best on deadline, only write on deadline.

You read a nonfiction essay in which the narrator equates the discipline of running marathons with that of his writing practice, only to realize that his logic is flawed. You go to the gym.

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What I Learned Watching Cable

For all of the negative effects of watching a lot of television–wretched lack of productivity, indoctrination with evil, unattanable ideals of skinniness and wealth, the inability to move for hours on end because you must find out how Eva wins Season Three of America’s Next Top Model even though you Wikipedia’d the outcome three episodes ago–I have come up with at least one positive.

You see, it’s hard for me not to feel somewhat sheepish when I tell people what my blog is about. (“I’m getting an MFA in Creative Writing.” “Oh, what do you write?” “Well, these days, mostly a blog.” “Oh, what kind of blog?” “Well, um, it’s about dating…relationships…but not really. You know, it’s like, my thoughts on those things.” Befuddled facial expressions and awkward conversational transitions ensue.)

I feel sheepish about making this admission for a few reasons. But basically, I fear that I will come across as someone who a) is not a serious, literary writer and b) is obsessed with relationships. Both of which, of course, are more or less true.

But back to the cable: these hours of bingeing on mainstream television have, if nothing else, served to remind me that I’m not alone. All of us–all of you!–are obsessed with dating, romance, finding love…the whole thing. I don’t care if you want to get married or wear white when you do or you’re still finding yourself, whatever. You’re obsessed. You just don’t write a blog about it.

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The Paradox

This weekend, I am mulling over three questions:

1) Why is it that so many soccer players are so extremely attractive?

2) What, exactly, is a dog looking for in a place to poop?

3) What are you supposed to do when you’re single and tired of being lonely?

All three of these questions mystify me. On the first two I’ve got nothing (comments welcome); on the third, years of experience still leaves me baffled. But at least, as you may have guessed, I’ve got some thoughts.

Yesterday I talked to one of my best friends from Washington, A. She is one of those friends, a few years older and invariably wiser, who always imparts valuable wisdom.

(She’s also the one who is Southern, and who is always counseling me not to call, not to make the first move, to play hard-to-get etc–I could hear her telephonically beam with pride when I told her about the guy whose texting I’d snarkily rebuffed last month. “But I never cared that much about him,” I confessed–minimizing the accomplishment. “It doesn’t matter, she assured. “It’s great practice!”)

In updating her on my summer, I told her that despite going out virtually every night with various friends, despite having a solid stable of girlfriends and even a few guys to hang out with, I still feel lonely without a partner to see movies and take weekend trips with.

I explained the thrust of my current romantic dilemma: that while I feel absolutely exhausted, consumed with my own projects and totally unmotivated to look for someone, I feel the desire for companionship as acutely as ever.

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