Tuesday, April 6, 2010

On Letting Other People Read My Writing

I've kept journals ever since I was in the first grade; I have stacks of notebooks in my closet that I can't bring myself to throw out. I've thought about keeping a blog for a while, but I had my doubts about it at first. Unlike many people in my generation, I don't have a Twitter page, a MySpace page, or a Facebook page. I don't even like texting. And I always thought that a journal was supposed to be private, so that I'd feel more comfortable about expressing my ideas without worrying about other people criticizing my writing.
Even though I've wanted to be a writer ever since I was a kid, I've always been shy about showing my work to other people. I took a fiction writing class when I was in college and wrote some really bad short stories that got some not-so-great feedback that was mostly deserved. What bothered me, though, was that one student said that the plot of one of my stories sounded like a recently published novel, though I had definitely NOT plagiarized it. The irony, though, was a few months after the class ended I read a novel by a different writer and realized that a scene in that novel strongly resembled a short story that everyone in my fiction writing class had praised. (Unfortunately, that story wasn't written by the student who criticized my story or I would SO have e-mailed everyone in the class about it because I'm spiteful like that). On a side note, people might accuse me of being hypocritical because the title of my blog, "Obsessions of a Workaholic," is a play off of the title of Sophie Kinsella's novel Confessions of a Shopaholic. But I figured it'd be okay since I've never read that book and I've seen other people create titles that play around with titles that have already been published. For example, Chelsea Handler titled one of her memoirs, Are You There Vodka? It's Me Chelsea. As most people familiar with Judy Blume know, that's a play off her title Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret.
Also, I was kind of nervous about keeping a blog partly because I'm a writing teacher, and I've heard of some teachers who lost their jobs because of what they wrote in their blogs. But I figure that as long as I write stuff that I wouldn't be embarrassed to show my students or my parents, then it should be okay.
The good thing about the Internet is that it allows people to be anonymous and lets them write things that they might not have the courage to say in person.
The bad thing about the Internet is that it allows people to be anonymous and lets them write things that they might not have the courage to say in person.
Sometimes I read message boards for movies, TV shows, or even news articles, and some people write really nasty comments about the content. It can be disturbing, sad, and also kind of funny sometimes. One of my obsessions is watching music videos on Youtube, and it's amusing to see how some people will not only post mean comments about the videos but will also get into arguments with each other about those comments. Here's a fictionalized example of comments to a Miley Cyrus video (and yes, I do like some of Miley's music, even though I'm more than a decade older than she is. There! I said it!).

Miley4Ever: This song is so amazing Miley's so cool!
JustinBiebersGirl: UR an idiot mileys music isnt half as good as taylor swift though JustinBieber is the Best Iloveyou Justin
TooCoolforPop: I can't believe people listen to this crap
SelfPromotingSinger: My musics much better check out my video where I sing the same song only much better
Miley4Ever: TooCool your crap your not cool at all
TooCoolforPop: You really are an idiot. You can't even spell "you're" correctly. Read a book instead of listening to this crap.

Most of my writing consists of making lesson plans, writing e-mails to students, jotting down comments on students' papers, and writing my own papers. So when I write in my journal, it's always a relief to write something that's just for me. But now, after reading several really interesting blogs on blogger.com, I finally realized that blogging is a good opportunity to make connections through writing.

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