-photo: Stephen Depolo via Flickr
-photo: Stephen Depolo via Flickr

 

“Staring at empty pages, Centered ’round the same ole plot”

-Traffic, Empty Pages

Earlier this summer one of my favorite bloggers nominated me to participate on The Writing Process Blog Tour. My first thought was process? You mean there should be a process? My second thought was me? You want to know how and why and what I write? I find how others write fascinating so I was excited to be included.

Gene’O is the brilliant mind behind Just Gene’O and Sourcerer Blog and  contributor at Part Time Monster. If you check out his blog and cruise around a little you’ll see why I’m a fan. Probably one of  the most versatile bloggers, he writes about music and comics and does photoblogging as well. And when he finds a cause or injustice he needs to write about, watch out. Needless to say I was flattered that he asked me to participate.

Now on to the questions about my writing (gulp) process….

Why do I write what I do?

Quite simply, I write about whatever is on my mind. Sometimes it’s lighthearted commentary or observations. Sometimes I write album reviews or profile songs I have “playing on repeat.” Literally. I get obsessed with new music. In college my roommates had to hide my new Phish cd from me. I occasionally write about my kids and parenting. Other times it’s about issues I’m passionate about. If someone says something really stupid and misogynistic I’ll probably write about it. Racism, feminism, poverty, injustice to marginalized people, these tend to be the things I feel the need to speak out about. I also enjoy the opportunity to exorcise some anger when writing about things that get me fired up. The thing I love about blogging is I make the rules and I can write about what I want when I want. Isn’t that we all love about it?

How does my writing process work?

Music.

The name of my blog is from “Across the Universe” (The Beatles). That song sums up everything I feel about writing, about life, about this blog.

I start every blog post with a lyric from a song. I do this for a few reasons. Music is my favorite medium. It has always been what inspires me. I don’t have any musical talent, but it’s been a part of my life since I can remember. At times a song lyric or song title inspires an idea for a blog post. Other times I finish a post and have to search for a lyric that seems representative or connected in some way to what I wrote. And I always listen to music when I write. Sometimes the mood of a song dictates what type of writing I do. I try to just go with it and let it guide me.

Which brings me to the second part of my process. I try to write by instinct or inspiration. If I start writing and I don’t feel something I stop. My dashboard is full of unfinished posts. Some of them I’ve revisited after months of languishing and finished them with a new thought or direction. The seed may have been planted but not ready to produce until much later. Others may never see the light of day. I try not to sweat it.

I prefer to write on my laptop but have notebooks full of writings and scribblings and notes. I use these when I need to write on the go. Carpool line has seen some scratchings. Swim practice has become a surprisingly fruitful place for writing. The white noise of swimmers rhythmically moving in sync through the water is quite calming. If I’m desperate and am caught without my laptop or a notebook I’ll reluctantly type notes in my phone.

And the editing. Dear lord, the editing. And by editing I mean cutting. I tend to be long-winded. I have rarely written something that didn’t need at least 500 words shaved off. This has been one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned from blogging. In every other aspect of life I live by “less is more”. Except for writing. And cheese. And wine. Anyways, editing takes me ridiculously long to accomplish. I’m hoping that as I enter my second year of blogging this part will come easier. (I mean, this whole paragraph was probably completely unnecessary but I’m leaving it in to make a point).

How does my work differ from others of it’s genre?

Unless you count random as a genre, I don’t know if I have one. And I’m not sure if what I do is any different from any other blogger who writes about issues and music and  any idea that pops in to their head. The difference is in simply that we all have different ways of processing the world around us. We all have different thoughts on any given subject. If I know I want to write about a particular subject I purposely avoid reading blogs or opinion pieces on that topic. I don’t want to be influenced and I don’t want to see that someone has already captured my thoughts. If I see someone expressing what I had intended to say, I’ll abandon the whole idea. I need to know that what I wrote came wholly from me and other than reading articles to gather information, I prefer to write in the dark so to speak. That being said, I am often inspired by what I read from other bloggers.

What Am I Working On At the Moment?

I would love to say I was working on a book. And I was a little, here and there, before I started this blog. It’s been years since I’ve written anything that would be read by another soul, so I have taken a break from working on the book while I hone my writing skills here. Writing for an audience and hitting publish definitely makes you critique and edit and learn. I hope to resume working on my book soon. I’m almost always thinking about it, playing out scenes and ideas in my mind. But right now, this blog is my focus. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to devote more time to it now that I don’t have a little one at home with me during the day.

So that’s it! A peek inside my lack of a process. Now I get to pass the tour on to three bloggers:

Lizzi of Considerings – Life in Silver Linings Lizzi is a generous soul who’s words will touch you. She doesn’t hold back and brings her heart along for the ride. She is one of my favorite bloggers and if you read her blog you’ll fall in love with her too.

Mandi of Cellulite Looks Better Tan Mandi writes with a voice that puts you there. You feel like you are walking along with her, living in her world. It’s an intangible thing and one of those things you wish you could learn but it’s probably innate. Funny, serious and everything in between.

Racheal of Rachealizations Lover of cheese and all things positive. Funny and contemplative and insightful. Check out her blog and see the hidden gems inside.

So get to it people! Share with us the secrets to your madness- I mean writing.

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“Where you born to resist, or be abused?

Is someone getting the best, the best, the best, the best of you?”

-Foo Fighters, Best of You

Saturday was a fun day. We spent the evening at friend’s house. The kids laughing and playing in the pool while we enjoyed good food, great conversation and more than a few drinks. We all came pouring in the door full of energy and laughter. We shuffled the kids upstairs to get ready for bed. I paused for a minute to soak up the moment. My family. All of us smiling, happy. I was still reflecting on the fun evening whenI grabbed my phone. I popped on to Twitter for a quick peek to see if there was anything of interest happening.

#YesAllWomen. That’s what was happening.

I stopped my distracted cleaning that I had been doing while reading tweets. I had to sit. It was everywhere. Women tweeting. Tweeting in response to the shooting in Santa Barbara. Tweeting about their experiences.

All the things that have been said and done or implied that reminded them that they are less.

Less important.

Less valued.

Less worthy.

Less powerful.

I was taken aback. I felt overwhelmed. I felt tears burn at the edges of my eyes. I felt sick to my stomach. I felt too connected to what these women were saying. I could relate. I knew what they meant. I had experienced so much of what they were discussing. The every day misogyny. It’s not the stuff of news stories or even blog posts. Usually. It’s the stuff that I have brushed off my whole life. The things that I have learned to expect and to accept. And I don’t know if I ever truly realized it until reading these tweets.

I am no stranger to women’s issues, to feminist causes. I have written about it many times on this blog.

I’ve written about rape, the need for Feminism, on-line misogyny, and sometimes just your basic rant against Feminist deniers.

I participate in a wonderful and enlightening #FeministFriday discussion every Friday with some smart and engaged blogger friends. I obviously am very passionate about these topics. But it did not occur to me that I had spent most of my life minimizing and diluting the very thing I was writing so vehemently about.

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I think it went like this:

  • In Kindergarten a boy pulled my pants down. It was nap time aka time for the teachers to watch their soaps. I had scooted away from him and he got mad and grabbed ahold of my pants as I army-crawled to a different spot. I pulled my pants up quickly. The teachers were engrossed in their show. No one saw. Out of embarrassment I said nothing.
  • Boys at school would occasionally grab and grope me in the hallway. I said nothing. It happened to my friends too. We would just roll our eyes and shrug our shoulders. If the offending boy hadn’t darted off we would maybe offer a quick punch to send him a message. But we didn’t make a big deal out of it. It was just what happened. It was normal.
  • During my teen years, it came from adults. Strangers. And I was still a kid. A teenage girl, whether she has breasts or looks mature, is still just a kid. These men had no problem flirting with a cashier who was 20 years younger than them. These men saw nothing wrong with saying lewd things passing me in a parking lot. These men would make obscene gestures at a stoplight. These men thought that a young girl was an appropriate outlet for their sick and twisted and perverted impulses. But I brushed these creepy encounters off. It was normal.
  • On the first day of college we had a meeting in the dorm. A meeting about campus safety. About how to not get raped. Don’t walk on campus alone at night. Don’t drink too much at a party. Don’t go back to a guy’s room. Don’t lead a guy on. But never, not once, did we hear: Don’t rape. They definitely said “No means no.” But this phrase was such a sing-songy vague campaign, in the vein of “Just Say No To Drugs” as far as effectiveness. Repeated so oft it becomes white noise. What would have been impactful was a simple rule book. With one rule. Don’t rape. Instead we all heard “Don’t get raped.” We got the message. The onus was on us to not get raped. We didn’t flinch or question. We’d heard all of it before. It was normal.

I left college unscathed by the horror that too many girls face. I realize, only now, just how lucky I was to have breezed through four years without being violated.

Still, this shit happened:

  • I couldn’t wash my car for an entire summer in my parent’s driveway because the construction workers building the house next door would make disgusting comments.
  • I got my ass grabbed too many times to count by my boss at the restaurant where I worked.
  • I had to fend off a kiss by my boss with a punch in the stomach.
  • I worried when my boss’s started drinking before the end of the shift if this time they would try to take it further than an ass-grab or a kiss.
  • I had to politely, with a smile, derail come-ons by drunk older men at the bar where I worked.
  • I learned to expect that I would get groped at some point at every single concert I went to, at every crowded bar I frequented. Almost every time I would turn around to try to confront the offender, only to see a crowd entangled, trying to edge closer to the stage and/or bar.

And even now, as a grown woman, this shit STILL happens:

  • I stopped by the house we were building to check on something. I got in my car to leave and turned to look at the house from the road, only to see one of the construction workers making very large, dramatic, jerk-off motions in the window. Directed at me. I was stunned and he stopped as soon as he saw me looking. I drove away considering my options. I could call the builder and tell them. But what if they fired him? What if he has four kids and is struggling to put food on the table? Yes, he’s a misogynistic asshole, but I couldn’t bear the thought of someone being out of work because of me. So I said nothing.
  • Condescension. Too many times to count. The baseball coach who said “And try not to be late next time” when I inquired about an upcoming game. I bit my tongue. I wasted my opportunity to school him in how to speak to a woman, to a person. I didn’t take a moment to let him know that the only reason we were late to practice was because my daughter’s piano lesson ended at the same time that baseball practice started and since my husband travels during the week that I have to do it all and be all places at all times and get all of my kids where they need to be and that I have been all over town in a frantic rush just trying to make it all work. All so he can stand there and smack his obnoxious gum and talk to me like I’m his child. And I knew, beyond any doubt, that if it had been my husband who had been standing there instead of me that he would never have said it. Because no one has EVER talked to my husband that way. But I said nothing. Because my kids were standing right there. Because my son still had a whole season of playing on this dickwad’s team and I didn’t want him to ride the bench because of me. So I said nothing.
  • My husband and I tried to have a drink a our neighborhood martini bar. We sat and watched middle aged men ogle the young waitresses. Girls young enough to be their daughters. The two waitresses stood off to the side, their arms awkwardly hanging in front of their bodies, trying to cover themselves from the creeptitude. My husband I sat and watched, disgusted, as the waitresses timidly walked to the tables where these men sat on their fat asses, leering with such entitled lust and righteousness. I wanted to say something. I wanted to scream at these men to keep their metaphorical dicks in their pants. I wanted to get right in their foul smelling faces and demand to know what gave them the right to make a young girl feel that way. I wanted to walk up to the owner of the bar who was walking around chatting it up with patrons, and knee him in the gut and then explain to him how to treat his employees and how to demand his customers treat them. I wanted to take these girls home with me and wrap a comforting blanket around them and feed them some homemade soup. I wanted to tell them that no one would ever look at them that way again. But I would be lying. And I didn’t do any of that. My husband and I sucked down our sickeningly sweet martinis and paid the bill and left, vowing to never give that bar another dime. I said nothing. Even though I really wanted to.

Enough of that shit.

I’m tired of saying nothing. I’m tired of minimizing the everyday bullshit that happens to every girl and every woman everywhere. To me. To my friends. To those waitresses. I spent my life shrugging it off. I laughed it off. And even when I wasn’t shrugging or laughing, even when I was angry, I said nothing. But then I started this blog. And I started saying something. And then I met some pretty awesome bloggers who care about the same things. And together we started saying something. And then I read these tweets and I saw women, all of them saying something.

And I’m going to keep saying something.

I won’t shut up.

I will say something when I see politicians minimizing rape with qualifications.

I will say something when girls are video taped being raped.

I will say something as long as female genital mutilation continues.

I will say something as long as women are subjugated and demeaned and dismissed.

I will keep saying something.

You won’t be able to shut me up.

I’m hoping you won’t try.

I’m hoping you’ll say something too.

 

What are your thoughts on #YesAllWomen? What kinds of everyday misogyny have you experienced? Do you think a social media movement like #YesAllWomen is helpful/ enlightening/ productive? Talk to me…