Blogging in public places

I’m trying something different today. I’m blogging from a public place. It feels a little like getting naked in public, except the woman at the next table isn’t shielding her children’s eyes and the police haven’t arrived yet.

I don’t know how this is supposed to be any different for you, the reader. I imagined there’d be something interesting about saying, “blogging live, from Bazaar Cafe!” But so far, I think, it’s only different for me. Not that I’ve never written anything in public, but so far I haven’t done a blog post this way.

Allow me to set the scene for you. Maybe that’ll make a difference. It’s a cold, gray July winter morning in San Francisco. For those of you from outside of the Bay Area, that description may have thrown you off a bit, but just use your imagination, from whatever enviably sunny place you’re in right now.

The dim lights and low jazz music are helping the scene come together. It also helps that I’m wearing a hat. I feel that this is an important part of setting the scene, or at least I did this morning when I decided I’d at least have to wear a hat if I was going to blog in public. That was silly, of course, thinking of it as a matter of appearances, because I’d look more like an authentic writer if I wore a hat to peer out from. I’ve since discovered that the hat actually serves the purpose of allowing me to hide beneath the brim and avoid eye contact when the employees stroll around to check that you’re paying for refills or buying your Internet use’s worth of food.

I’m just kidding about that last part. This is one of my favorite local independent coffee shops, and I wouldn’t cheap out here. It’s not like this is Starbucks or something, where I can stick it to the Man and make a slight dent in their profits, until they make it up moments later. I’ll make note of this for my next public blogging event.

I’m sipping coffee, even though I’m usually a tea drinker. See the above reasoning about authenticating the scene. I’ll be jittery soon, but at least I’ll know I did this right.

It’s feeling a little strange, addressing “the world” here but not interacting with folks in the public space around me. I’m trying to figure out how to connect this world and that one. Perhaps I’ll write my web address on some napkins, or on the dollar bills I’ll use to buy a refill. I’m trying to look intriguing enough, with my coffee and my low-brimmed hat, that someone will be unable to resist leaning over and asking what I’m doing.

If that happens, of course, I’ll have to come up with something more interesting that I’m blogging about. More interesting than “You’re asking what I’m blogging about? Ohmigod, I was just blogging about that!” Something like world peace, thrift store shopping or the plight of baby sea turtles in the oil spill. And if I hand them a napkin with my web address while I tell them this, then I’ll probably have to actually make a blog post about it. So if this post is followed immediately by one about baby sea turtles, you’ll know why.

Everybody else seems too worried about keeping up appearances of what they’re doing, though. Like the guy in the corner, whose jiggling leg keeps catching my eye. He must not be a regular coffee drinker, either. But he’s wearing a collared shirt and won’t take his eyes off his computer screen, so he must be running a business. Either that, or looking at porn. And the two women a couple of tables over, one of whom seems much more enthralled by their conversation than the other. The one who keeps glancing at me is clearly more intrigued by the idea of what’s going on over here, beneath my hat. Maybe I’ll drop off a marked napkin as I leave, to satisfy her curiosity.

I wrote some fiction while I sat here too, but I’ll spare you that. I tried to match appearances with that as well, writing the type of fiction one might write while sitting at a coffee shop listening to jazz music and wearing a hat. You can imagine the pretentiousness that resulted.

So that’s all, for now. Signing off, live from the Bazaar Cafe. Tune in next time, when I might try blogging live from the gym. Not working out, of course. Just sitting in the corner. Towel on my shoulder. Brooding. See you then.

Published in: on July 21, 2010 at 10:42 AM  Comments (1)  
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Exposed

I’m naked on this blog.

No, I’m not actually blogging in the nude (though maybe if I said I was I’d get more views?), but I look at the page and I feel exposed. Not only about writing some of my thoughts, many of which I often feel but rarely express, but also about posting my creative writing. About sharing about my writing process, and also sharing work that’s so fresh, coming out so early in the process.

There was a time when I wouldn’t show anybody what I was writing. Okay, so maybe I had a right to be ashamed of some of what I was coming up with, but mostly I had irrational feelings about my work being judged. Those feelings still haunt me now, but I have to push through my fears if I want my work to reach anyone so that’s what I’ve learned to do. Blogging has helped encourage me to push myself, but I still can’t really believe I’m doing what I’m doing here. Sharing new writing that I haven’t yet had a chance to mull over, eliminating the step when I usually decide I hate it and throw it away before anyone can see what I’ve done. Instead, posting it here without disclaimers or apologies (or maybe this entire post is a disclaimer slipping out — uh-oh) about how, you know, “it’s just something I just started working on, something silly, it’s not very good really, in fact not good at all, in fact you can just go ahead and forget you ever saw this…”

Part of the writing process I’m developing is trying to eliminate the disclaimers, so if I post something I’ve written and give it a preface about how much it sucks, you can go ahead and say “ahem” and remind me of this post. Even if it really does suck. Perhaps especially so.

I may feel naked, but I’m going to stand my ground, exposed.

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She woke up to blades of grass tapping her bare shoulders like the fingers of children eager to play. She didn’t have a blanket, she knew, but she felt herself wrapped in the warmth of her own skin. She moved her head from side to side to smell the morning, the damp dew nourishing the earth beneath her. She sat up, recognizing that she was nude only because of the way her body shifted, her hips falling in exchange for her body lifting, her breasts swaying slightly before coming to rest. There were murmurs above her, and she knew that she was not alone, but she wasn’t ashamed. She raised her arms to the sky, opened her mouth and let out a laugh louder than a lioness’s roar.

Published in: on June 16, 2010 at 9:20 AM  Comments (4)  
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Damn, I should be writing

On finding a writing routine:

I knew before I graduated from school that the hard part about setting out to be a writer would be, well, writing. It’s something I’ll never understand, why it’s so difficult to get around to doing what I love most. I was looking forward to freedom from the demands of academia to be able to write on my own time, but now the lack of a schedule that demands that I spend time writing is a challenge to overcome.

So far, if I have something that resembles a routine it looks like this: Getting up in the morning, sitting in front of the computer and thinking, “Damn, I should be writing.” Writing sometimes, or finding distractions to keep me from doing so. Then, going about my day. Cleaning while thinking, “Damn, I should be writing.” Or, sitting on the bus thinking, “Damn, I should be writing.” Or going to work thinking, “Damn, I should be writing.”

You can see where this is going. The end of the day comes and I decide I’m too tired to write, which makes me feel badly about myself after berating myself about it all day.

I know that once I fall into a routine of writing at the same time every day, I’ll be fine. I work well with routines like that. And getting up in the morning isn’t the problem; I’m used to getting up early and even if I didn’t want to my cat would make sure it happened. Blogging is helping, too. At least I’m getting my writing flow going. And if I’m blogging about writing, I figure I should at least be doing something to back it up.

I’ve also rearranged my room. The truth is I live in what is probably meant to be an office space and not a bedroom. It’s surrounded by windows on all sides and I absolutely love it, but of course I don’t have space for the desk area I’d love to have. But trying to write while sitting or laying in bed doesn’t help much with the motivation factor, so I managed to create a desk-like area for myself between my two bookshelves. I can lift the blinds and look out into the greenery of the neighbors’ backyards to my side, or stare into the neighbor’s office-equivalent of my room (somebody doesn’t know how to make the best of rentable space, geez) in front, and it at least makes me feel like I’m sitting in front of a desk and should be getting some work done (maybe thinking of it as “work” is part of the problem).

I’m going to shoot for writing in the mornings for now. Before I go out and take on the weight of the day. Hopefully most mornings, like today, I’ll be able to get some writing done. Before I was published, a stranger once told me that I shouldn’t wait for it to happen to call myself a writer. He was right. It doesn’t matter if I’m publishing what I’m writing or publishing it in the right place or having the right people read it to call myself a writer. All that matters is that I’m writing, so that’s why I’m aiming to do that, every day.

After all, putting a pen to paper and writing is so much better than sitting in front of a blank screen thinking, “Damn, I should be writing.”

Published in: on June 12, 2010 at 1:45 PM  Comments (2)  
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Is this how all blogs begin?

Here’s the story:

After a windy, adventurous road full of challenges and triumphs, I graduated from college with a degree in Creative Writing (technically, English with an emphasis in Creative Writing) and half a Sociology minor (okay, so I never finished it, but I can’t seem to let it go). It’s funny to me that after all that time of adding and dropping second majors and minors, trying to figure out what practical focus could actually get me a “real job” while I pursued my silly dream of writing, I ended up still focusing mainly on creative writing.

So now, of course, comes the inevitable question I hear every day: “What now?” I’ve been trying to come up with creative answers: Join the circus. Fix the oil spill. Sometimes I’m tempted to just say what I want to do: Get a dog. Travel the world. Change the world. Of all the answers, “be a writer” seems to be the most laughable. But why not? It would seem to be most logical to say that after getting a degree in Creative Writing, one would become a writer. Right? Heh.

Maybe it’s just me who makes a joke of it, if I dare to say that’s what I’m doing with my life now. I always accompany it with some self-deprecating line or laugh, because of all the answers, that’s not what anyone expects to hear. But I guess that’s what I’m doing. Being a writer, for now, for me, means: writing, preparing work to submit to literary magazines and writing contests, reading, considering graduate schools and of course looking for that “real job” to pay the bills in the meantime. I’d love to work with a non-profit, which is where that whole “changing the world” goal comes in. But who ever said that changing the world will pay the bills…

But here’s the main thing that makes me a writer: I write. So that’s my plan, to work every day to earn that “er.” In this blog I’ll write about how life goes along the way. I’ll post readings and events, share about some of my favorite writers, share some of my fiction and poetry. I’ll post about social justice work and life in San Francisco. I’ll write about what it means to me to be young, queer, Black and female. I’ll update when I come closer to figuring out what the hell I’m doing with my life, including my search for an MFA program and for a job, and when life laughs at my plans and takes me somewhere unexpected. And I’ll probably post some rants and raves.

And now I have a new answer when someone asks what I’m doing now. I’m blogging. Let’s see where this leads me.

Published in: on June 5, 2010 at 3:32 PM  Comments (4)  
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