Wednesday, January 23, 2013

I am so Cool I Have a Guest Blogger!

This is a guest post by a classmate of one of my daughters who has written all her life and is now working on novels and has given herself the fascinating assignment of writing on 256 blogs as a guest blogger! My street cred jumps so high on this I will try to not double space after a period! There I did it and I learned to type on a manual typewriter. Nath did tell me she couldn't figure out my blog's focus, hah, neither can I! Rayne DeVivo put me on to this, and much to my surprise, Nath accepted my invitation to my little insignificant blog. I think I just learned that the part of my brain that censors expression IS in overdrive and I am very inhibited here. 

Author bio: Best New American Voices nominee Nath Jones received an MFA in creative writing from Northwestern University. Her publishing credits include PANK Magazine, There Are No Rules, and Sailing World. She lives and writes in Chicago. 


Q: For good or ill— how has blogging changed or affected family life?

A: Well. It doesn’t much. My social life is what’s different now. But I like your question. It’s definitely worth exploring. 
Let’s do a post about Mom, me, and my writing and then we’ll branch out to other aspects of family. 

I write for a thousand people on Facebook. My Facebook writing is a personal sketchbook for the fiction.  But I do explore conflict and I’ve said some truly horrific things about my mother.

Identity cannot become a hang-up. The part of the brain that censors expression will go into overdrive. That cannot happen if you want to write work that matters. If I’m worried about whether or not everyone thinks I’m crazy, mean, hateful, ungrateful, conniving, two-faced, and hedonistic because of the themes I’m willing to explore, I’ll never explore them. 

Mom doesn’t have a problem with what I do now because she never had a problem with what I wrote. She encouraged me by nurturing my work, by taking it seriously when I was six, seven, and eight years old, and by never flinching at the chosen subject matter—regardless of how dark. 

And. Yes. Those stories were dark. I remember carefully drawing a noose in third grade. Kind of tough to detail the rope with those fat, unwieldy Crayola markers. 

I learned to write before Columbine, before Virginia Tech, before this God-awful incident in Newtown. And I’m so glad. I hate to think how children’s creative expression is now being policed.

I’d write a story, hand the pages to my mom, and she’d hand them back with grammatical corrections and ways to amplify the dramatic effect of the matricidal stabbing, or shooting, or hanging, or slow painful demise in relation to some fatal disease. She never once thought, “Wow. This kid hates me.” 

Why would she? I don’t. There were no doubt many reasons why I wrote what I wrote, and, yes, with the help of Dr. Phil, friends, self-help books, and various sessions with professionals I have unearthed my fair share of childhood trauma. Who cares?

“7 reasons why children should write stories (these reasons, of course, also apply to writing poetry): 1) to entertain; 2) to foster artistic expression; 3) to explore the functions and values of writing; 4) to stimulate imagination; 5) to clarify thinking; 6) tosearch for identity; and 7) to learn to read and write.”

Mom and I didn’t bother much with identity. We both have gargantuan egos, sure. But we have plenty of insecurity too. Mainly we were curious about how to make the stories work.

I don’t consider my plight any different from anyone else’s in any other family. So I have no qualms about exposing intimate facets of daily living that are generally left unarticulated. 

Okay. I’ve had plenty of less than lovely things to say about my mother online—in public, for an audience of her friends and mine. Mainly I wrote my way through the fears of what I felt could not ever be uttered. 

Sometimes readers leap to Mom’s defense. They know her. They love her. They don’t want her threatened in any way. Certainly not by her daughter, in public no less! But as often as people admonished me for what I expressed, I also got quiet personal messages from individuals struggling with their own familial relations.

 For me those connections are reason enough to do the work. The words are liberating. They offer permission for others to open up, to discuss hard truths, to be real about how our freedoms really can be constrained by the people who love us most.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Inauguration Day--MLK jr Day

More history being made today. I am grateful, I have high hopes for the next 4 years. I found the last 12 years from horrifying to disappointing. The determination of the the republicans to completely stop any progress has been stultifying. Maybe, just maybe, they can reach back across the aisle and relearn to compromise.
I am home, my eyes cannot leave the screen. A much older man is taking office today than four years ago. The weight of the world is so heavy, the crowd is fabulous! Maybe at the end of this term I can retire and not be afraid.
I remain stunned by the hatred that rears it's ugly head every day on facebook. I never really thought I'd find my blog a safer place to have an opinion.

4 years later and hate has elected a thug, a sexual predator, possibly a puppet of Putin, my country expressed its hate and prejudice, another MLK Jr. weekend. Facebook is worse than ever.