And now for something completely different.
Beginning with this entry I hope to have periodic guest bloggers. Maybe once a month. Maybe less, maybe more. This is something that I wanted to begin back in October, but life and schedules got in the way. So, new year, new adventures.
This first guest blog is written by my good friend Charlie , who is blogging her way through her bookshelves at her own blog, That Girl Who Read Books. I met Charlie during new student orientation at Hamline and then we started off our MFA journey together, sharing two classes that first semester (we finished it together too, last May). She is a wonderful writer and I feel privileged that I’ve shared so many moments in her creative journey. Since this is January and I’ve been on a little bit of a kick here about resolutions, goals, etc., I gave Charlie the vague, yet immense subject of “writing goals versus life goals” and what follows is what she had to say.
WRITING GOALS VERSUS LIFE GOALS
By: Charlie Broderick
When Tom asked me to write a blog for him about writing goals versus life goals, I wasn’t sure where to start. I couldn’t differentiate between the two—my writing is my life, so all goals overlap.
I know that sounds dramatic. I can almost see the eye rolls. It’s exactly what a writer would say, and a better writer would either find a new way to say it or say something different. Right?
The best writer captures the truth.
In trying to be realistic with my goal setting, and keeping to word count, I only set one goal for this blog post:
GOAL: Do Not Fear or Misuse Technology
If I have the choice between using a kiosk or a person, I choose human interaction. Until last week, I had a flip phone that was only used for talking. I enjoy wondering about things for days at a time, and then going to the library and doing research if something still intrigues me. I like indexes, author’s notes, and the weight of a book. Don’t get me started on how much I love the smell of old musty books. I like knowing that advertisements do not govern my search. I like going to the source and knowing that I can trust it (for the most part).
I am a person who avoided the Internet. When I got lost, I had to result to this thing called an atlas, or call someone with an iPhone. I used to pay with checks until every place stopped taking them. Whenever I had a brilliant idea, but didn’t have anywhere to write it, I had a zero percent chance of remembering it. I started carrying around scrap paper and Moleskine notebooks; that gave me a fifty percent chance of remembering ideas if I wrote them in my diary by the end of the day.
Internet, kiosks, phones, etcetera, were all designed with the idea of saving time, but I found that it was very easy to waste time using them. If one wasn’t technologically inclined, using these interfaces was much like being a foreigner and not knowing the language. I still can’t figure out how to scan my produce at the grocery store. So for a long time, I feared technology.
This year my goal was to use it as a tool and embrace it.
Now I can dictate ideas in full sentences to my phone and it will E-mail them to me. In fact, I’m writing this at the gym while on the bike. It’s a strange feeling for someone who used to do all of their writing in their head. For days I’d wander around thinking about what I wanted to write, composing and re-composing sentences, and then I’d sit down and it would come out.
This should feel like a miracle for someone like me, because I’ll never lose an idea again. Instead, I wonder about the quality of my writing. The fear isn’t unwarranted.
I need only look at the way listening has changed with technology, as has most communication. On one hand, we can talk to more people, keep in touch easier, and spread ideas faster. On the other hand, what’s being said is only a blurb of what we really meant to say—all nonverbal clues are gone, and previously what would have been an hour conversation, leading to tangents or different topics, is diluted to a few short sentences. Now I can keep a virtual diary, but my handwriting, with all it’s scrolls and nuisances would be lost.
I think of Hemingway banging away on a typewriter, forced to think about each word, each sentence. It must have felt like writing, and at the end of the day, the pages were there in his hands, proof of work. What I have is a file somewhere on a hard drive—nothing to hold in my hands, and dictating thoughts while riding a bike hardly feels like writing. But then again, I think of ancient philosophers banging away with a chisel on a stone tablet and I’m glad things have changed.
Embracing technology and knowing how to use it was the first step. So what do I do with all my newfound free time? I volunteer, with real people, and have real conversations while making art. And I edit, as some ideas are worth saving just for myself.