November 4, 2009

Blog Share!

It’s Blog Share time again so YAY! I have something to put on my dusty ol’ blog. Only, I didn’t write it – someone else did, and I don’t even know who. Somewhere out there is a post that I wrote. Blog Share is the supergenius idea created by -R- and I look forward to it every time.

These posts are meant to be anonymous and some people really put themselves out there and don’t want to be discovered. If you stumble upon a Blog Share post and you think you know who wrote it, please let that person remain incognito and don’t reveal their identity.

I swear I didn’t write the post below, but I can sure relate to much of it. Please show my guest some love in the comments.


I’ve always been a decent writer. Back in junior high, my teacher would always read my stories out loud to the class because it was such a job well done, which you can imagine was AWESOME as a teenager.

In high school, this knowledge wavered. Depending on the class and teacher, I was either a good writer or a shitty writer. In college, we were required to take English 101 and 102 in our freshman year. My teacher in the first semester, she was of the mind I was a horrible writer. My teacher second semester was the exact opposite. How do I know this? I turned in the same paper to both of them. (I can’t help it they had the same assignment.) The one teacher gave it a B-, the other an A+ and told me to submit it to a magazine.

It was about this time that I learned that I excel in writing when given the right feedback. It doesn’t always have to be over-the-top positive (although that doesn’t hurt), but it needs to be constructive. I need to feel like the errors or mistakes I’ve made can be learned from and improved upon.

Writing is a very subjective thing. What one person likes, someone else can hate. And those two people can love it and hate it for all the same reasons.

For my job, I do quite a bit of writing. Business-type writing is obviously a lot different than the writing we do on our blogs or in the emails we send to friends. But I have a good background in professional writing and I can hold my own. I’ve written press releases, brochures and newsletters at more than one job that I’ve had since college. I think I have quite a bit of experience under my belt.

In a job I had right out of college, I wrote a lot of feature articles for publications. My boss at the time wasn’t so good with the feedback. He’d make a few changes to my stories, but I never got the “that was a great piece” or “I really like the direction you took with that.” So after six years of this, I was convinced I was a bad writer. Not horrible, I was a great editor and proofreader, but I wasn’t a GOOD writer. I never got feedback to convince me otherwise.

Then I left that job. I moved into a more corporate atmosphere and did a lot more business writing – letters, proposals, newsletters, etc. At this job, my writing was praised. It was never perfect, but if someone needed something written, and wanted it done right, they asked me. It was like exactly what I was looking for at the other job. Just an acknowledgment that I was not a total idiot. An attaboy every now and then never hurts.

After that job, I started a blog. I had started reading a lot of blogs and with the positive feedback I was getting at work, I thought “hey, I could do this.” And I started to hone my writing. I started to enjoy writing. I started to BELIEVE that I was a good writer. I was maturing and growing and didn’t need the constant feedback and positive reinforcement.

And then I started at my current job.

My boss has never come out and said I’m a crappy writer. But with all the writing I do, none of it is ever right. And look, I know I’m human, and as I mentioned I KNOW that writing is subjective, so I don’t expect everyone to find my writing perfect. I expect that there will be errors, corrections, improvements. I expect that there will be edits and re-writes because someone else in the department might have a better way of saying something.

And yet, with that, my writing is always wrong. Not just wrong, but ALL CAPS WRONG. It’s not just a few edits or changes. Every single time it is constantly re-written. Every single time, very few things of my original document are left in the final piece.

At first, it wasn’t a big deal. At a new job, you have to learn the style and know what your boss and superiors like and what they don’t. But after months and months and months, my confidence was shot. There are always so many changes to everything I do that I have convinced myself that I’m a horrible writer. And that nothing I would do would ever be right. I can never win. And even worse, it makes my desire to work hard at something non-existent. Why put in all the effort when you know it’s going to be completely changed?

Writing is my thing. Through all the crap I’ve been through in the last few years, writing has gotten me through. My blog has been my therapy, my place to share and be amongst friends and be part of a community. It has been my ONE CONSTANT. My one resolute talent that I have had confidence in. And now, it’s wavering. My confidence is faltering.

I hate that my boss has this much power over me. I hate that I’m reverting back to the person I was 10 years ago who needed the constant feedback, the affirmation of a job well done. I hate that I’m letting my boss let me believe something that isn’t true. I hate that I’m giving this person that power, when it’s mostly their issue and not an issue they have with me or my writing.

But I’ll be sure to thank this boss in the acknowledgements of my first novel for making my desire to be a published author even stronger, if only to prove not everyone hates my writing.

February 17, 2009

Blog Share post

The following post was written as part of Blog Share, created by -R-. Blog Share gives everyone a chance to publish something they want to get off their chest, but might not want their public to know. My anonymous guest blogger wrote something that struck a chord with me, because I was once in a similar position. I hope you enjoy it, and please leave my anonymous friend some supportive comment love.

I have been racking my brain for a Blog Share post all day. When I signed up to participate, I had an idea in mind. My story was elegant and interesting and something that I didn’t want my blog readers who know me in real life to know. And then I forgot it. In truth, another potential Blog Share-worthy story popped up, but now I’ve decided I’m not ready to tell that one because I’m still working out how I feel about it and I am not ready to open myself up to comments and criticisms on that particular issue. And so….I’ve been stumped.

I’ve decided on something that isn’t glamorous or exciting or even all that scandalous, but it’s something about which I am embarrassed. Actually, I’m beyond embarrassed. I think it’s fair to say I’m even ashamed. This shame, however, is what makes me want to talk about it – because if anyone else has done the same thing, well, I want that person to read this and know that she or he is not alone. That there are other people who have done this or do this or will do this.

With that grand of an intro, I’m quite certain you will be disappointed to know that I’ve been gearing up to talk about money management. I can hear the crowds booing now. Still, I promise you: anyone who has trouble managing his or her money probably feels a deep sense of mortification whenever money is mentioned. I know I did.

When I was in college, I bounced so many checks that I actually had a charge filed against me by…I think the city?…and I had to attend a money management class to get it removed from my record. I’d love to tell you that this happened because I was trying to put together tuition money and finance my own books, room, and board, but that would be a lie. My parents gave me a generous allowance every months, and if I ever needed extra money, all I had to do was call them. I had absolutely no excuse except my own refusal to keep track of what I had and didn’t have, and then my refusal to abstain from going out when I “didn’t have”.

I wish I could tell you that I outgrew this by the time I graduated, but I didn’t. I continued this behavior even through graduate school. I didn’t just bounce checks – I was also a big fan of not paying my bills. I just wouldn’t pay them. I paid rent, sure, but electricity and cable and phone? Nah. I had all three cut off so many times I can’t even count. I would sheepishly drive down to the electric company office in the shiny little sportscar my parents bought me and stand in line with people who were clearly struggling to make ends meet, pay all my overdue bills, and then go home and wait in the dark for my electricity to come back on. Sometimes, when I didn’t have money to pay my overdue bills, I borrowed from friends. Have you ever experienced the embarrassment of having to borrow money from your friends? It sucks. It really, really sucks.

No, I did not have a drug problem. No, I was not involved in anything sketchy. Hell, I wasn’t even fashionable or flashy. To this day, I have no idea where my money went. Oh, how it went. I cannot explain it. I cannot explain why I put off paying my bills or why I wouldn’t just check my bank balance on a regular basis so I could know what was or was not in it. I wish I could.

I CAN, however, explain to you how I overcame this. With the help of a brilliant and wonderful psychologist, I learned a lesson that I repeat to myself even to this day, even in different contexts. It sounds simple, but it works. I learned to remind myself that no matter how much I dread something, the consequences of putting it off are usually more dreadful.

For example: if I dread checking my bank balance because I am afraid that it will show I have $3.62 in my account, I have two choices. I can choose not to check the bank balance and go write a check for $162 in whatever at a store (well, okay, nowadays I can’t even do that since everything is automated, but BACK THEN, I could). The result is even worse: it creates a new thing to dread, which is seeing a bank balance with a minus sign in front of it.

It is better to know than not to know.

I know what most of you are thinking. I can hear it, all the way over here. Duh. What a stupid bitch. EVERYONE knows that. This chick is a brat. And you would be right. The thing is, though, I think one or two of you will read this and think, She is right, that is the most embarrassing thing in the world and I always felt like everyone else had their act together but at least I know now that someone else went through this, too.

You’re not alone. And if you’re really, truly struggling this, ask -R- if you can find out who I really am, and we’ll talk privately about it. (If you ask sincerely, and R asks me if it’s okay for her to give my real information out). I promise, you can fix this. You can break this horrible cycle and you can stop calling the bank to beg them to take off another $37.50 charge for overdrawing your account. I promise.