Writer’s Quote Wednesday: Reflection

Andy Rooney 3One of my favorite things about blogging is that it is not school: I am free to write what I want, when I want, and how I want. Not only do I get to choose what to write about, but I can write in any genre that suits my whim. I can use photographs, with or without words. I can use words, with or without pictures. I decide how many words to write. Whether or not anyone reads my posts will probably be affected by these choices, but the decisions are mine to make.

Given how much I like the idea of being absolute monarch of my blogging realm, it strikes me as ironic that I keep signing up for blogging classes, thereby limiting my own authority. First, I took on Blogging 101, although it seems to have bested me, since I completed only half the assignments. I am writing this post for a Photography 101 assignment (Day 3: water). In fact, my last three posts have been on subjects not of my choosing: home, street, and now, water.

A vertical cropping of the same pond (I prefer the horizontal photo myself)

Here’s a vertical orientation, but I prefer the horizontal.  The reflective water mirrors the tree while creating the illusion of a tree. Writing also reflects life but can create a parallel world.  (Panasonic Lumix)

Choosing Andy Rooney‘s statement — “I don’t pick subjects as much as they pick me” — for Writer’s Quote Wednesday may seem odd, since I have written recently on subjects that someone else dictated. Home, street, and water did not “pick me,” I assure you. Because I am feeling little enthusiasm for photographing or writing about arbitrary topics, Mr. Rooney’s quote refreshed me like a cupful of cool water in an arid desert. When something cries out to be addressed, forces itself on my attention repeatedly, haunts me as I drive from place to place, then I sit down at the computer and become deaf to the people around me until I have poured out myself in words.

I had the experience of a subject picking me last Tuesday evening. My husband, daughter, and son had all left the house after dinner, and I was planning to use my time productively: sorting through catalogs, putting away laundry, or exercising.  As I brought dirty dishes into the kitchen, I passed my aging laptop. Suddenly, my fingers were at the keyboard, typing feverishly about an idea that had been forming for the past few days. I don’t know exactly what Andy Rooney meant by saying that subjects pick him, rather than the other way around, but I can guess. I feel his pain — or pleasure.

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27 thoughts on “Writer’s Quote Wednesday: Reflection

  1. This is a comment in response to a question from you three months ago! I can’t believe it. Oh well, at least I came back to it. I had not forgotten that you asked me, “How do you find time to write?” or something like that. I guess the answer is, I find little moments between chores, between meals, between whatever, and those little moments become bigger moments whenever I have the chance to let them. I don’t have a lot of children’s activities to go to anymore (Elizabeth prefers to stay home and knit or read), and when I did have more parenting responsibilities, I would write a few minutes in the afternoons or evenings as my therapy. Almost like prayer or a soothing swim. Something to immerse me in my own voice, my own thought, and the voice of God inside my heart. I don’t know if that is sentimental language or a real explanation of what began to happen inside me, but I have begun to trust it more and more. To let my heart open and simply listen to it, and follow it, like a child, simply follow the voice that began to speak–that is what began to do. And it became natural. Yes, there have been many neglected things. Lately I have panicked about those (for a lot of reasons), but I always come back to trusting my writing. It seems to be the one thing that puts me in order, so I can do other things. It also was born out of learning to meditate, to turn off the chattering, judgmental, and demanding voices and instead let a deeper voice emerge. Sometimes that voice is silent, sometimes it has a lot to say, but I am learning, and basking in, the art of listening. Listening within. Similar to your writing, it often gets prompted by something in nature, a family moment, or some other observation. Lately I’ve been musing over the experience of hearing a blind gentleman in my church read the Scripture lessons. I have written several pieces about it, and want to post one of them. I want to make sure, though, that I don’t in any way condescend to or sentimentalize his blindness. I just find it a beautiful thing to hear the Scripture come from his fingers dancing across the page … so strange to see. Well, I have waxed on, but it’s been a nice time to muse over your question. It is snowing, and that has allowed an opening of more time … I am thankful! I am eager to return to my blog, and will be querying you about how to expose it to more readers. I’ve only had a few comments from you and a couple of other literary FB friends (which I greatly appreciate!). How do I get it out there to a more public audience? Thanks, Sandi!

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    • Thank you for remembering that I had asked, Suzanne 🙂 Ever since leaving school, I have struggled with consistency, especially when I probably needed it most! Now, like you, I find there are fewer outside things demanding my attention, which is why I slowly started writing again — still no poetry or fiction yet, but maybe in time I’ll be less afraid of those genres.

      I think I’ve seen you refer to the blind gentleman before; I’ll keep an eye on your blog for a post about him 🙂 As far as broadening my audience, the two WordPress “classes” that I’ve participated in really helped me connect with other bloggers. The Photo 101 class was easier to keep up with than the Blogging 101 class, because the assignments were much less time-consuming; I found, too, that while there were many participants who had amazing cameras, some were using cell phones or basic digital cameras, like I was.

      BUT, I discovered that my 4th grader was not being as honorable about his schoolwork as I’d thought, so in January I decided that I would have to return to erratic blogging for the time being. I’m still trying to keep my hand in with some private journaling and occasional blog posts, but I have had to let some ideas slip away. Commenting on other people’s posts (even if you don’t know them) is also a good way to expand your audience, although I discovered that by accident.

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  2. Pingback: Pack Your Bags: Virtual Tour Blog Award! | sappy as a tree: celebrating beauty in creation

    • I stumbled upon his quote in a book about writing that my kids have used, and I didn’t know much about him until I looked him up. I’m old enough to remember his spot on the news, but I’m not a person who likes to watch news on TV. So, I learned about him, too, and discovered that he had quite an interesting career as a journalist.

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  3. Lovely photo of the tree reflected in the water. I like your statement about getting inspired to write. I think that is what the quote is talking about as well. I find that I enjoy this type of writing too, when I feel the topic calling to me. When I get inspired to write about something without the prompts. I struggle with similar issues about having time to blog or write and communicate with other bloggers. I think it is a good idea to write each day even if on your own computer that we don’t publish. And usually if there is the choice between housework and something I am inspired to write…the writing always wins. 🙂

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    • Deborah, I like your idea about trying to write something every day, whether we publish it or not (and whether it’s for our blogs or not). It is so difficult to “revive” an idea that I didn’t have time to write about when I really wanted to; I’ve got a few drafts that I may never finish. Maybe all bloggers do? I’m too new to this to have a sense of what is normal, but my brother, who has been writing a music blog since 2007, told me that he has dozens of drafts that he never finished.. Of course, with the various challenges we’re involved in this month — you, with the NaBloPoMo and me, with the Photo 101-we are being handed topics right now. I have found that, once I get going even on an assigned topic, I can eventually connect with it, and I’m guessing that you have had a similar experience.

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      • Yes. I think it is good to write even a few sentences of an idea. It could come into use later. I am new to this as well. But I have done this a bit and then had something I could use. Sometimes I haven’t used it. Some of the prompts I have been able to work with others I have a harder time with. Usually when I have an opinion or passion about something it is easier to write about it. 🙂

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  4. Pingback: Writer’s Quote Wednesday-11/12/14 | Silver Threading

  5. I think you made the right choice to drop the NaMo, you are definitely making the time to get the shot. Man that pond is like glass. Beautiful! I see the tree in water better than the tree itself.

    As for getting it all done, I make the time to write daily. Writing daily helps keep me in check because I know I will write tomorrow. It’s not like i have to get it all done right now. Sometimes inspiration will get me, but even then I can leave it regrettably because I trust I will sit down and write tomorrow. I guess I created little rules, this block of time is family time and no writing during family time. I write during this other block of time. And I have to get this, this, and this chore done today. If I find time I can write more, but only after those things are done. But like right now I know I have to get to bed soon, because I know I will write in the AM before work. Anyway thought I’d share, but I had to stop and check out your photography 101. Awesome! I need to take it the next time they present it.

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    • I wish your channeling/organizing abilities were contagious, April. I have realized that, if I don’t establish some kind of priority system or set of rules, I won’t be able to sustain my blog, long-term. So thanks for letting me know how you handle the blog. One of the assignments I never got to in Blogging 101 was setting a schedule, although I read other people’s posts about it. That would probably help me. Just like Blogging 101, Photo 101 is proving to be a good way to meet other bloggers — who are also on a self-improvement kick 🙂

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  6. Love the quote. I do feel like that’s the way blogging works, at least. Perhaps not other forms of writing, all the time, but I blog posts usually hit me at a random moment– unbeckoned– and I have to scramble for something to write with, so that I don’t forget it. I suppose that is what it means to be chosen.

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    • Your comment prompted me to check the stats for this site, which I haven’t done in a while. My suspicion was confirmed: not counting “About” and “Home” as posts, my top 9 posts on this site are responses to either an award or a blogging 101 assignment. Only the 10th post was written b/c of that feeling of: who-cares-if-I’ve-got-a-to-do-list? I’m-writing-about-this-right-now. I may write a post about this, at some point, b/c there are some excellent reasons why those other posts got more attention. Thanks for reading!

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  7. Well, all I can say about your Blogging 101 efforts is that, finished or not, you got the main ideas down pat. You might repeat the technical parts of the assignments, but really your “feel” for that is already here. What did I do? I finished them all but only half way. That is much worse than only finishing half of them, wouldn’t you say?

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    • My hat is off to you for finishing them all, Beth! I stopped just before the “build a better blogroll” assignment, and that is something that I plan to work on, once Photo 101 is over. I never committed to any kind of regular feature or regular schedule. Meanwhile, my poor family is getting awfully tired of my constant talk about posts that I’ve read. . . .

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      • I gave the Blogging 201 a go too, and it was much less “daily” intensive. I wanted to keep those two on my “My Sites” list for the LESSONS LEARNED so I could go back and refer to them and really do them well, but somehow I deleted those when I deleted them off a blog they were not supposed to be on. I have been trying to work with tech support for about a week now and the problem still has not been resolved. All is not lost. I can at least go to the daily posts and find several suggestions there or go to the forums to ask help there.

        Another strange thing about my settings… I thought I had been following your blog since the beginning, but I see on the right side bar here that I am not following you. How is that? How am I getting this reply to my last comment?

        Third time is a charm! I know how to do this; I have done it how many times now? But this is my third try to reply to your comment. Frustrations? I am first cousin to them–maybe a sister.

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        • So sorry that your Gravatar is not working properly, Beth — and I just noticed (I’m sure you know this) that LESS@NS LEARNED does not show up with your butterly Gravatar: I assume that blog comes up with the picture of your face? One reason I like this courses is that even the topics that don’t resonate with me in some ways still need to be written about, and that is a good discipline. Plus, we learn new techniques and better blogging manners, or I hope I did . . . Still learning, actually!

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  8. I can appreciate some things you are saying. Part of my degree is in journalism, but I think one reason I did not pursue it more was being confined to writing a certain way and about things I might not have chosen.

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  9. I loved this piece, Sandi, especially the last paragraph about spying the laptop and suddenly finding your fingers on the keys … has happened to me many times. It is a great feeling, no matter what the dirty laundry may say.

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    • Thanks, Suzanne. Of course, the unspoken reality is that my husband has been silently picking up the slack lately. How do you find time for writing in the midst of your other responsibilities?

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  10. Sandi, I didn’t finish half the Blogging 101 assignments either. Then I signed up for Blogging 201 and completed even less! Think I’ll take a break from classes for a bit, maybe redo Blogging 101 when I have a bit more time. Photography 101 seems every bit as intense, but I like your photos. I’m impressed by your energy, too!

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    • By the time we get back to Blogging 101, we’ll probably discover that we’ve done most of the remaining assignments, in some way or another. 🙂 I had to drop out of the NaBloPoMo monthly challenge after two days — if I’d signed up on this site, I might have been able to do it, but I signed up for my other site, which is not as visual in its orientation. Thanks for reading!

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  11. Your subject did a great job of picking you and the gorgeous photo. I like the horizontal better, too, it get’s more of the reflection in there! I rather like the structure of the photo 101; it makes me post daily and the subjects always find me. Keep up the great blogging 🙂

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    • Thanks for taking the time to read (and comment), Terri 🙂 One thing that is nice about the Photo 10)1 is that it seems less essential to write something to go with the photo. If I’m too busy, I can hope that the picture will speak for itself). Sometimes the subjects that someone else picks do become my own (not always). Truthfully, I’m not sure that I do my best writing when I am “inspired.”. But it certainly is more fun!

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