Tag Archives: writing

Writing 101 in a Digital World

Sometimes I forget that you don’t need an internet connection to write.

Yesterday I had some time to write before meeting a friend for dinner, and conveniently had my laptop with me. However, I experienced slight panic for a moment when I realized that there wasn’t a WiFi connection to hook up to.

That’s pretty bad. 

I grew up in the late 80s, early 90s. My family had a telephone attached to the wall. We didn’t even have a TV for a time. I know that one doesn’t need a computer or smartphone to write — a pencil or pen and paper will more than do the job (even a brow pencil… true story.) 

Yet lately I’ve found writing sessions to be fueled in part by the need to immediately publish something — in line with the philosophy of a tree falling in the forest, I guess you could say. However unintentional, having such a mindset — a reflex of powering up to write down — has definitely impacted how often I write, greatly inhibiting my range of artistic motion. 

In my defense, technological convenience is something we’ve so grown used being there to the point that the physical act of writing can feel like supplementary behavior until one can get to the perfect moment in which to fully flesh out an idea. 

But if our world was to enter apocalyptic status today, right now, there’d be nothing to connect to, no immediate spread of ideas. All works online would cease to exist. If we were lucky, some publications would have survived any fires, floods, blasts. But we’d truly have to rebuild and create a future on a physical, tangible foundation with our selves doing the thinking, not our beloved machines. 

I used to think that being in front of a computer was my perfect sit-down moment — and it still is, in most ways. However, it might be time to redefine the line in the sand, with a pencil or pen and paper, and whatever’s swimming inside. No tabs open, and nothing to reference except for, perhaps, a physical thesaurus, encyclopedia, or other source of study. Back to basics, in the interest of preservation.

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The Problem with Needing to Be the First to Report the News

“Don’t believe everything you read on the internet” — the new and now longstanding credo du époque. 

What happened to actually reporting the news?  Pressure from conglomerates happened. Ratings, sensationalism, virality happened. The internet and social media happened, and I’d argue that we’re all to blame in some way, simply by demand and consumption. 

With the internet being the world’s main and largest source of information, and social media making it available and accessible by the literal second, it is a bit tough to escape the matrix — but tough doesn’t have to be impossible. 

On Monday, October 2nd, reports flooded in early in the day that legendary singer, songwriter, and musician Tom Petty was taken to the hospital in a state of unconsciousness following cardiac arrest. His condition was updated to having been taken off of life support, to dying. This was reported by hundreds of verified online publications, until it was acknowledged that confirmation had, in fact, not been obtained. 

Following a statement from the LAPD denying their prior confirmation, reports were quickly retracted to Petty clinging to life until his spokesperson released a statement hours later that he had passed away at 8:40 pm PST.

This need to be the first to report breaking news is now regularly causing once-reputable news outlets to shoot themselves in the foot while it’s still their mouth, while other websites — essentially RSS or reblog feeds — pick up the story and further spread the contamination. 

Was this the LAPD’s fault, or was it the fault of the new school of journalism? Was it our fault as the public for how easily we’ve adapted to wildfire? 

I would answer: all of the above.

As a result, Petty’s final hours were tinged by the unfair and unwarranted stress of infringed upon privacy, personally experienced by his family, friends, and bandmates. Fans around the world were either propped up by false hope, or thrust into a position of waiting for him to die. There was no good publicity to be garnered from it — just a media circus. Just vultures circling around, waiting to strike. 

It begs reminding that it is the job of journalism to report and document the news through an unbiased lens, with integrity to the profession. It a position worthy of dignity and respect, one with huge responsibility. It is far more than cents-per-word or exposure-only employment. And, it is not at all about the journalist. Journalism is our history in motion.

In forgetting this, devastating events surrounding the first two days of October 2017 have fallen under the pay-per-click umbrella, where “everyone is a journalist”, at an ultimate cost to the subject. 

We should all be ashamed.

Me, Writing for The Past Few Days

I have a three blog drafts lined up to complete and post here, but it has taken a while because they’re not fun topics — which seems to be what people want, right? Entertainment is all about the escape, crafted with the goal of carrying the recipient somewhere that matters. 

I realize that I’m totally working to reason with myself. To be honest, the topics aren’t even that out of the ordinary — but in a sea of beauty/vegan/lifestyle bloggers, they dive into complex territory that even I’m not sure I’m comfortable with. 

Still, as much as I lack the desire to visit and revisit dim places in the name of clarity, it’s imperative in writing, creative or otherwise. Life is just one giant functional, resistance training session that hurts and weighs heavy. But humans were built to acclimate, and there’s a lot of good, even beauty, to be found there. Blessed be the buffer of self-deprecating humor. 

I often tend to express the sentiment that writers need to trust their readers and not make decisions for them. That is very important as both contributor and recipient, so that’s what I’ll work to do. New post soon, I promise.

Thanks for reading.

More Writing Tips From Someone Who Doesn’t Know What They’re Doing

writing2

(An unintended continuation of this post.)

The Emmys are tonight, which is super exciting and everything. This is an obvious opportunity to celebrate another year of brilliant television. There have been some amazing productions this year on both network, cable, and streaming services. The game is being changed, and it has been amazing to observe, to the point where reception has been, at times, delightfully overwhelming. This must be praised, as quality programming, like other forms of artistic expression, needs to be recognized, talked about, and experienced — because when it is, even more stories get told (especially those that probably wouldn’t have otherwise).

However, yet another year has gone by where I don’t feel like I even have an idea to flesh out. (Yes, I’m making this about me.)

One day I’d love to write something worthy of recognition on such a level. But to do that, I’m going to have to keep writing.

I’ve lived in Los Angeles my whole life, so the star-studded aspect isn’t novel to me. What is novel, however, is seeing people you know do things that you could only dream of doing. In knowing these people, I know first hand that they have the same 24 hours in one day as anyone else. They’ve periods of discouragement and laziness, like everyone else. But they keep moving.

This weekend I was able to go through some old stories and poems from college. Not to toot my own horn, but I wrote pretty damn well. But I was a bit stubborn and, due to writing more for the grade rather than the passion, present-day me could really sense the loss of drive and focus within each piece. It’s no wonder why I refused to read or write during the year following graduation.

The drive has definitely come back, though, almost to the point when I first started writing as a young teenager. I remember writing so much then, even performed at open mics and submitted my work to publications. I wasn’t afraid of saying or doing something. I wanted to contribute, and truly felt my work to hold as much weight as others’.

I’m not sure if that’s exactly the case for me now. If anything, I’m much more conscious about what I put out there, probably due to the saturation of ideas on social media, and how quickly information can be dispensed, digested, and transferred. The pressure to make an impact is very much there, as is the desire.

Like anything else, the view just needs to be scaled back a bit.  I need to go back in my personal history and touch on what’s been pushed out of memory. I need to ask myself difficult questions, especially in relation with others, and experience the breeze every once in a while. I need to write what I know, and be endlessly curious about what I don’t.

And, I need to keep writing.

Coconut-Scented Everything: White Rain Bar Soap (Product Review)

Hear me out.

Coconut is an uber-fad that arrived atop the roof of the wellness train about five years ago and has been milked, oil pulled, punctured and drained for all its worth. The sad thing is that, unless from the actual fruit, most artificial coconut scents smell too chemical-y for this world. It’s true: most beauty products at a consumer-friendly price point smell like headache in a bottle.

As a writer, most ideas come to me in the shower. As such, I take some effort in making sure that my shower experience is both functional and relaxing. From bath bombs to aromatherapy gels, sugar scrubs and oil-infusions, I have tried an array of products with respect to budget and interest, and have still managed to come up short in the zen department. 

That is, until I came across White Rain body soap.

About a month ago, my boyfriend and I were at the grocery store stocking up for the week as per usual. I’d capped off a long lavender streak after having run out of my favorite Dr. Bronner’s liquid hemp soap, and decided to try something different. Making our way down the personal care aisle, I went through the prerequisite rigamarole before landing on a product that I was sure I’d regret buying. “White Rain, huh?” I thought to myself. “In Lavender Shea.” Sitting in between safe Ivory and inflated Tom’s, I thought, “meh, why not?”, a decision made infinitely easier with a two-pack of bars having been marked down to the very friendly price of $1.49.

Little did I know what a beautiful relationship was to bud from there on. Again, with tax, you get two quality bar soaps for around $0.80 each. In addition, the formula is smooth and doesn’t melt away easily (unlike the aforementioned Ivory) — each bar has lasted me nearly two weeks, even with vigorous use. Also, the scents are not overpowering, nor do they smell like chemicals. I have previously stuck to the Lavender Shea scented bars, but recently tried out the Coconut Creme scent (during a 4 two-packs for $5 sale) and well…. let’s just say that I am thisclose to crowning a new favorite in my besprinkled shower kingdom in which I am both subject and ruler.

It’s not that I won’t splurge on something more seemingly decadent, like an oil infusion, serum, or otherwise. But again, as a writer, the shower is one of the few places where one can let the mind fully wander and process for a guaranteed two to five minutes before the day really gets started. And because showering also involves cleanliness, White Rain has made both possible.

There you have it.

Writing Tips from Someone Who Doesn’t Know What They’re Doing

Before starting this blog back in June, I had gone through a solid five-year post-college hiatus from writing. As a creative writing major, the last semester at school was taxing to the point where it was no longer enjoyable. Engaging in discussions of history and theory, participating in workshops, and joining in with the university community was a truly unique experience. But the pressure really wore on my drive and imagination. 

After graduation, I lost all nerve to put ideas to paper. It even came to the point that saying that I was a writer felt like a lie.

Thankfully I don’t feel that way anymore. But looking back at it now, I realize that my biggest hang up was getting started. Even today, getting this post started was a challenge, but then I remembered one of my favorite quotes (simple enough and probably overused, but no less true):

“The secret to getting ahead is getting started.” — Mark Twain

Everyone has their own approach to writing, but sometimes it just boils down to the basics. It doesn’t matter how you do it — using an app, typing on a laptop, or jotting a blurb on a napkin — getting something down is the most important step, followed naturally by revision, then editing.

Revision and I weren’t always good friends, but we’ve worked through our differences, especially since I’ve realized it’s always had my best interests at heart. Looking at the word itself, “revision” implies the re-seeing of something, often through the eyes of someone or something else. Paired with editing, back and forth is to be expected, but is well worth the outcome. Drafting, extracting, and reworking not only improves the concept at hand, but can breed multiple ideas from one initial idea, therefore lessening writer’s block. Total win-win.

Making sense out of an idea can be a long and demanding process, but like a sculptor molding a likeness out of clay, forming abstraction into relatable experience is a meritorious undertaking. I definitely have a long way to go, and don’t always know what I’m doing, but will forever stand by getting started as the most important part of the process. 

It’s Not You, It’s Me (The Truth About Blogging)

The idea of this blog came while travelling with my laptop in Denmark this past June. Being halfway around the world, I was reminded just how engaged the global online community is, and knew that if I just pushed myself, somehow I could find a place in it again.

Yes, again. Seven years or so ago, I had a blog called “Adventures of a Car-Less Valley Girl in Los Angeles” — a place where I commented on goings-on and personal forays in the cycling and public transportation world. Looking back on it now, I can see the interest and passion that went into it. Living car-free in a city where one’s car is considered a measure of status, it was basically my whole life. Not so much anymore, as I’ve had a car for a good three years now, although the issue of infrastructure and community still very much concern and affect me.

So what is my life now? What exactly do I want to share here?

1. Adventures in yoga. Everything about yoga is ultimate goals to me, but I’ve yet to put it into regular practice. It’s time. Over the next two weeks, I plan on making yoga a focus — practicing sun salutations A and B to the point of memory, adding some targeted stretches, and enjoying the hell out of savasana. (I’m really good at savasana.) I’ll also do some targeted conditioning work and maybe 10 minutes of HIIT cardio per session — but it’s time to switch gears and take a different route.

2. Random commentary (world events, hot topics, trends, etc.). There are maybe three YouTube drama commentators that I watch semi-regularly, but every time I do, I’m quickly reminded of this likely mis-quote from Eleanor Roosevelt: “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”

Do I want to be that person on this platform? Not really. I’ve many viewpoints on things, but not necessarily on what is being gossipped about concerning social media personalities. Millions of others care enough without my input, and I don’t want to expend so much energy just to be in-the-know about someone’s drama that doesn’t serve me. I will, however, cover topics of note that inform, notify, and perhaps encourage to thought and action. We’ll just see.

3. Creative works. Think poetry, prose, short passages. I’ve an idea for a series involving mental health, and just existing, and will feature it here as it develops. It would be nice to write about writing, so look out for that as well. It might not always be pretty, but it might be what’s needed.

4. And finally, how bizarre life is. My colleague and I were talking yesterday about how life is just too much sometimes, but that no one can seem to tell from the outside. As we were talking, I could feel the stress settling in my neck and trace anxiety from making genuine eye contact. Balance between family, work, and passion is an ongoing process, and all the joy I can feel in one instance is met with fighting the urge to not cry in another. I’d like to touch on horrible and wonderful in every moment because right now, that is my life (and likely many others… we just don’t talk about it).

So there you have it — my intended direction for this blog at this time. Should I ever retract, just remember that the internet is forever, and there will always be some cached version available for viewing somewhere.

ttfn~