A year of my blog

I started this blog one year ago.  My daughter helped me; in fact she suggested it.

I have tried some writing in the past.  (Not counting scientific papers.)  Since I was a kid I have occasionally written short stories.  At one time I even thought I might write a novel.  I composed novels in my head while driving alone on long trips.  When I lived in Atlanta I sometimes visited my friend Penny who lived in southern Virginia.  The drive took about 6 hours and during those trips I concocted a long yarn, most of which never got written.

The novel was to be set at a school like Florida Southern College where I had taught biology when I lived in Tampa, with characters imported from the job I was currently working in Atlanta, a research job at Emory University.  At the Atlanta job I had the worst boss ever. He was a professor of physiology and I was hired on his NIH grant to study stomach ulcers.  Funny thing, I was diagnosed with an ulcer myself while working there.  I planned to make the boss the villain; the novel was to be my revenge. 

At that job I used a computer for the first time to write and I learned WordStar, the first commercially successful word processing program.  I wrote scientific papers, one of which still comes up early when I Google my name along with my boss’s.  I was captivated by the computer and I declared my intention to stay after work and write a novel.  My boss, who guessed he would be a central character, had a fit.  He forbade me from using the computer in my office for anything personal, even on my own time.  I bought my own computer.  My boss darkly threatened libel suits if I included any character that resembled him.  But, alas, I never wrote the novel.

A few years later I took some poetry classes in Washington, D. C. where I worked at the Department of Agriculture.  The classes were at Glen Echo, a place that had been an amusement park when I was a child, and still had some of the old carnival structures.  It was converted into an artist’s colony; it was a suitable setting for artists.  Though the Writer’s Center has since moved from Glen Echo, it still exists.  It is a small press that publishes books of poetry.  I often went to poetry readings there. 

The first class I took at the Writer’s Center was really good, and I had a wonderful time.  The teacher was a young man who taught classes at George Washington University (where it happens I got my bachelor’s and master’s degrees.)  He was a poet himself, and he may have been a fine one; I couldn’t judge because I never understood any of his poems.  He was, however, an excellent teacher.

We had to read our poems aloud to the class.  Then he and the class would critique.  This system scared me to death at first, but I found that it resulted in rapid improvement of my writing, and I learned a lot from the comments on the poems of others, as well as my own.

The next class I took at the same place had a teacher who was far less effective, and he yeilded to people in the class who were afraid to let their peoms be publicly read.  The class was boring and I stopped going. 

After I retired from biology I went to art school, and most of my creative energy was spent in making prints and painting.

The blog is an exercise in writing.  I read the blogs of others whose writing is more elegant than mine, and I try to learn from them.  When I wrote scientific papers in which I wanted to convey information I felt that brevity and clarity were the operative principles.  When I wrote poetry I was looking for harmonious sound and cadence, and I tried to choose words and phrases that evoked images and emotion.  Prose writing can combine these things if it’s good.  When I read blogs I want to be able to enjoy and understand.  If the writing gets too abstruse and wordy I can’t be bothered and I go on to the next one.  I feel the same way about poems.  I am willing to read a short poem 3 times.  If I can’t figure out what it’s about on the third reading, I give up.

Besides being an exercise in writing, the blog is a way to record some parts of my life.  Much of what I have written is memoire, and I hope someday one or two of my great grandchildren will enjoy reading it to find out a bit about the world of their ancestors.  I hope there’s a bit of history here.

This blog has been a record of my year.  It has recounted major and minor events, trips, births, deaths, parties, conversations, projects.  Of course, there are things that happened this year that are too private to tell about.  My descendents are not getting the whole unvarnished truth.  They will understand that nobody tells everything.  I tend to tell more than most; sometimes a bit too much.

While writing my blog I have explored the blogs of others.  On other blogs, besides some excellent prose writing, I find poetry, sometimes exceptionally good.  I find drawings, prints, photographs, painting.  I find recipes, gardening tips, history, life stories, political essays and more.  There are videos, and music and jokes.  It’s great entertainment.

Three of my island neighbors have blogs.  They are Rich and Pat of Artisan Wine Gallery, Cathy of IslandCAT’s blog and Wynne of Lummi Island Living. The blog has been a way to make wonderful new friends.  This was an unexpected happy surprise.  I have met interesting people and found kindred spirits through reading their creations and the exchange of comments.  Some of these fellow bloggers live nearby, others are in far away places.  I have met two bloggers in person.  Natalie of Blaugustine, and Marja-Leena of Marja-leena Rathje.  Both were a great treat and adventures.

To meet Natalie I traveled from Oxford to London by bus, and then took the tube to find my way to Natalie’s flat.  From that meeting and from our web exchanges I feel she is my friend for life.  I was able to look at and hold some of the beautiful books she makes, and to see where she lives and to give her a hug. 

I went to Bowen Island in British Columbia to meet Marja-leena.  She is a printmaker, and some of her work was in a show at the Bowen Island Gallery.  Jerry and I went for the opening.  I am sure we will meet again.  I want to visit her in Vancouver, and I hope she will come to my island as well.  And I got to see her interesting work, which I had also admired on the internet and to give her a hug.

Other blog friends I plan to meet soon are Dale (Mole) and Naomi (A Little Red Hen), both in Portland.  When I get back to England I want to meet Friko (Firko’s Musings) and Dick (Patteran Pages.)  I have spoken to Dick on the telephone but did not have the chance to meet him.  Someday I want to meet Ruth Pennebaker (The Fabulous Geezer Sisters), Darlene (Darlene’s Hodge-podge) and Jan (Jan’s Sushi Bar.)  I wish I could meet both of the Annies, (Canyon Cottage and Mzodell’s Page) and Mary (Red Nose.)  Perhaps someday I will visit my sister in San Diego and I wlill meet Maggie (Postcards.)

There are bloggers in places I am unlikely to go, such as Spain, Australia, and Montreal.  But one never knows.  And I hereby invite you, my bloggy pals, to come to my island.  I have a nice guest apartment and I would love to have you stay — one and all (just not all at the same time.) This invitation is real and standing as long as I am well.

During my year of blogging I have occasionally written about politics.  Obama was elected president and I celebrated.  Health care has been an issue and it is one I care about, so I have posted a couple of times on it.  Ted Kennedy died and I said goodbye.

I have posted some of my art; only what I consider the best, of course.  I have posted a couple of my poems, though I find that most of the poetry I have written is lost (or at least, I can’t find it.  Once, when my grandson was looking for his cell phone I, said, “Have you lost it, Tom?”  He replied, “It isn’t lost.  I just can’t find it.”

I have made some mistakes with the blog.  The biggest one was, I think, that I was too open about my identity and location, given the material I was writing.  I used some conversations with a friend in a tongue in cheek post about writing a murder mystery; someone who knew about my blog showed the post to the friend; the friend was offended.  A controversy arose in the comments, and some really unpleasant things were said.  I apologized to the friend I had offended, and I withdrew the post. But the moving finger writes.  There is again an angry comment on my last post.  I think it is symptomatic of the lapse of civility that characterizes current public discourse.  It is a sad trend.

My blog, like that of many others, is personal.  I express my opinion about a lot of things, and I have a lot of strongly held opinions.  I welcome constructive criticism and I am glad when there is some disagreement and some real discussion.  That’s what makes the blog interesting.  That is not the same, however, as attacks that are purely personal and not about a topic.

The whole experience of writing the blog has been rewarding and educational.  I am glad my daughter fixed me up with the chance to do it. 

So here’s the beginning of the second year.

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23 Responses to A year of my blog

  1. Mage B says:

    I flat out love your blog. You never stop learning. I learn from you. I relish your adventures while shrinking from mine. Perhaps next year I will again have adventures. Yes, who knows what’s going to happen and where. I have a granddaughter growing up in Spain and long to meet her. Who knows.

    Just this morning I deleted some words written in a hasty reality and retracted in sadness. I sent off a written apology.

    I post bad art and weak photos, and love art however it is. We were up your way two years running, and may return next year. Or maybe here.

    Hugs and glad you are doing this again for another year.

  2. Karin Doyle says:

    I don’t remember how I found you but this blogging is wonderful and a life saver. I started mine when I was stranded in a remote primitive campground in northern Utah. Although it was the 4th year we were hosting there my companion hurt his neck and it became the summer from hell until I started blogging and I made wonderful friends. Celeste Maia changed my life and Bobbie is always there for me and Lady Luz and now a Canadian, webwisewoman and now I have to read your blog which I think I must have come across earlier because you’re on my list. And now I think I will write a post about my “creative writing” experiences.

  3. dale says:

    Your blog has been one of the great delights of this year.

    Are you really thinking of coming to Portland? Hooray!

  4. wisewebwoman says:

    I don’t remember how I found you Anne, and maybe you found me.
    Be that as it may, your blog serves to enlighten and delight. I enjoyed your trip to England and your art.
    if you ever come to Newfoundland you have a place to stay. One never knows.
    Keep writing!
    XO
    WWW

  5. annie says:

    I love your blog, and I am so glad you found mine. I so appreciate your comments and thoughts. I keep my identity a bit more secret, although my name is Annie 🙂 I don’t tell friends or relatives that I blog, my blog is like the diary that I kept between the mattreses. Once a friend from high school found me, and followed for years, then got upset because of something I can’t even remember and left a nasty comment. I am looking forward to your next year!

  6. Betty says:

    Happy Blogiversary! I enjoy reading your blog, although I don’t always get around to commenting. We have all experienced rude commenters on occasion, so don’t worry about it, and don’t let them stampede you into abandoning your blog.

  7. Marja-Leena says:

    Wow, happy first blogiversary, Anne! What a lovely post honouring your year. You have had and continue to have such an interesting life. It was wonderful of you to come up for the opening on Bowen so we could meet… kindred spirits indeed! I really look forward to seeing you again, here or there! Have another great year of blogging.

  8. Congratulations on your one year blogoversary! It’s a big milestone. I’m learning as I go too … but it is FUN, don’t you think? I’ve met so many wonderful people through blogging!

  9. ams says:

    Hello,

    I don’t really use the 20six site anymore, so it has taken me an awfully long time to spot your comment and track you down to say hi and thank you.
    I’ve been looking through this blog, and you have a rather lovely and gentle way with words.

    Take care

  10. Alan G says:

    Congratulations Anne on your one year anniversary! 🙂

    I think it was just yesterday that I mentioned to another blogger that a personal blog is a lot like a biographical scrapbook. And it is always important to remember that it’s “your” scrapbook, and yours to share if you so choose.

    Happy Blogging….Alan

  11. Natalie says:

    Congratulations on a year, and keep writing!

    It is beyond me why some people have to be so rude and offensive when commenting. It’s fine to disagree, but that can be done without resorting to personal attacks. But nasty, anonymous comments seem to be par for the course these days. It’s a bit like the way some people behave when they get behind the wheel of a car: because they are shielded by anonymity, politeness and kindness go out the window and they feel they can behave however they please. I don’t even read unmoderated comments on news sites anymore, because there’s so much nastiness and name-calling, things people would never in a million years say to each other’s faces!

    Time to get off my soapbox. 🙂 Your writing is very thoughtful and I hope you keep at it for many years to come.

  12. Friko says:

    Well, knock me down with a feather!

    There I am, happily reading this long post, nodding occasionally, sometimes in agreement, sometimes wistfully, giving the odd snort – ha, she should have written a story about that rotten pig of a boss – most of the time thinking ‘if only’, recognising the patterns and TADA! there’s my name!
    Hey, old woman, from one old woman to another, you are welcome at mine any time!

    I’ve only been blogging since Jan 09, and it’s been fun for all the reasons you mention. I’ll let you know what I think on my anniversary.

  13. There seems to be two of us Natalies here and I just want to add my own Blaugustinian congratulations and cheers for your blogiversary – may you have many more. I too am very glad that we had a chance to meet in London and I much appreciate your encouraging comments. Have a wonderful day and never give up the joy of blogging!

  14. Darlene says:

    Congratulations on your first blogiversary. You are doing an excellent job; keep it up.

    I join Friko in being surprised in discovering my name in your post. I do hope we can meet someday; it would be a real joy to sit down over lunch or a cup of coffee and talk about just everything. I have a guest room and you are welcome to use it if you are ever in Tucson.

  15. hhb says:

    happy first year!

  16. rosie says:

    happy bloggiversary…by the way, if anyone makes personal attacks on your blog, remove them. I do! Intelligent discussion and agreeing to differ is one thing, but rudeness for its own sake needs to be firmly dealt with…

  17. Hattie says:

    I loved this post. And if you find yourself in Hawaii, do drop by. That applies to all the commenters, too!

  18. Natalie says:

    Oops, yes, sorry, I’m the Canadian Natalie. 😉

  19. Taina says:

    lovely post. i’m glad you’re blogging.

  20. I’m late (as usual) but still wish you a Happy Blogiversary! I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your posts. If you ever get back to DC, you have a place to stay.

  21. I’d love to meet you, too. Will keep that in mind the next time we plan a trip to the Northwest; in the meantime, congratulations!

  22. What a terrific (re)view you offer us. This post is something I’ve been looking for in thinking about the future of my own blog, now 3-plus years old.

    And the way you went in and out of that reflection and earlier experiences with writing has impressed me greatly. The comments are a good reflection of how your words have connected you to others.

    Your writing this way is what drew me to your blog on first encounter. You wrote about your marriages and, as feminist and former marital therapist, your life fascinated me. Writing well helped too!

    So, Anne, here I am in PDX in my unusual retirement community right in downtown…awaiting your visit. Though now that you’ve offered a space in your place, it might happen that we get to you first.

  23. I’m a year late in congratulating your 1 year blogging anniversary. I’ve assiduously followed your writings from blog one and a happy few hours I’ve had too.

    It’s so refreshing to have someone share so much personal, very interesting information. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting to know you and I look forward continuing to bring myself up to date with your life. Wonderful stuff.

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