The Writing Maladies of a Sensitive Blogger

For the most of this past summer I was MIA on WordPress. Believe it or not, the sentence “this is me showing up at the page” was all I could come up with. I would sit in front of this blank screen with the blinking cursor silently mocking my failure at stringing along a few decent paragraphs.

Eventually, I couldn’t bear to see it flashing before me, closed the tab and avoided WordPress altogether for the better part of the summer.

Why am I telling you this? Maybe I’m just looking for sympathy. Or maybe I just want to know that someone else out there can relate.

I started this blog in 2009. Three years ago, I was a very different person. Well actually, I was the same person but I saw things very differently. I started my blog for the same reason many of us start blogs. The feeling of an escape from life, or perhaps the need to have something new that is utterly and completely in your control. In my case, it was both.

The blank page was my best friend. I could fill it up with whatever I wanted. Life was a mess, but the page was clean.

I didn’t really care who read the blog. I loved to write. Writing made me happy, and my happiness had nothing to do with how many views my posts received. I learnt that I was my biggest critic. If I liked my post, then it didn’t matter who else did. If I hated it, all the positive feedback in the world wouldn’t be able to convince me I did a good job. 

And then something happened. Call it time or call it Freshly Pressed. Let’s call it Freshly Pressed. 

Freshly Pressed was probably the best and the worst thing that ever happened to this blog and its writer. Freshly Pressed gives you about 48 hours of fame and instant gratification, a window in which the world loves you. Followers and likes and comments rain down like confetti on the celebration of your blog’s success.

If you are a blogger who was Freshly Pressed, you may be able to attest that things change after that. For me, it stopped being about the love of writing and expression. It was now all about the audience. This is not to say Freshly Pressed was a bad thing. I ran into so many of you because of it, and for that I am grateful. 

But the pressure that I put on myself was definitely on. I placed my creative self-esteem in the hands of audience feedback. And solely positive feedback. 

If I didn’t think someone would like what I was going to write about, the post either landed in my saved documents or in the trash. As a result, hundreds of posts were aborted out of fear of disinterest, fear of negative feedback or maybe the worst- fear of complete indifference.

I seemed to have forgotten why I started this blog. The main reason this blog even exists is so that I don’t take myself too seriously. Ironically, I’ve never taken myself more seriously. For example, take this very post. It took me two weeks to write it and an hour and a half to come up with a title.

Creative process of normal people:

…whatever your definition of normal is

My version of the creative process:

I make this look more complicated than it really is

Of course, I cannot blame my blogging blocks entirely on Freshly Pressed. A lot of it was also personal issues that added to the mix. 

While I may have been absent from blogging, I wasn’t completely absent from reading some of the blogs I`m subscribed to. Mainly, you guys. This is where I talk about why Freshly Pressed was the best thing that ever happened to me. Take this any way you want to (actually, please take this in a good way) but I envied you all.

You all are fearless writers. (Yes, you!)  Whether it’s a post about finding roses in the garbage disposal, or a post about getting mad when people call you by stupid nicknames, or a post about the joy of getting voting stickers, you guys taught me that I shouldn’t care too much about other people’s opinions. Even if I do, it shouldn’t stop me from writing. You all have the metaphorical pair of blogger balls that I really need to start growing.

In many ways, they both feel the same.

Eventually of course, my summer pity party ended and I started writing again. Even if it was a post about talking to my blender, it had to be written if only to break the cycle of fear of not being liked. This post has no fancy play on words, no clever puns (except the blogger balls one, which is really a metaphor and not that funny). It`s the first time in a long time that I’m not trying desperately hard to impress everyone.

If you have gotten to the end of this post- Thank You. I may have spent a whole post talking about how you are indirectly the cause of my writing anxiety, but you are also directly the cause of infinite encouragement and inspiration. I could write another 3000 words about how awesome you guys are but I won`t because I’d like to stop being such a sap and get back to my usual no-nonsense sarcastic self. 

To all of you awesome WordPress bloggers, seeing you guys regularly on my reader has inspired me by kicking my ass into gear. Now I’d like to know your secrets: Why did you start blogging? How do you get past social acceptance fears? Does blogging ever feel like a job?

Writing the perfect Maid-of-Honor Speech

My best friend Bernice is getting married. I don’t specifically recall the logistics of our dream weddings when they were  girlishly discussed over the past 12 years of our friendship, but I’m pretty sure it was a given that we would hold big right-hand-maid titles in each other’s weddings. And finally now that the time had come, I was to be her maid of honor.

That’s right, bitches. Maid of Honor.

Now I’ve never been anyone’s maid of honor before. The very term held a quality of grandeur to it, but quite honestly after the afterglow of this bestowed title wore off, I was left scratching my head. As a nuptial newbie, I was a little curious as to exactly what was a maid of honor and what did this title entail?  I wanted to be absolutely sure that I was totally ready to take on this position. After some research, I dug up some loose definitions:

* The maid of honor is usually “the primo position among the bridal attendants. The bride has chosen you most likely because she considers you her closest and truest friend”. Check.

*The duties of a maid of honor depend the bride and her needs, this role could be anywhere from extremely involved, to simply being there to emotionally support her, listen to her and reassure her when she is anxious or stressed.” Check.

*In addition, older definitions of maid of honor seemed to indicate a “maiden that was single and/or unmarried, and was usually young.” Yeh. Check and Check.

They might as well have put my picture beside those definitions.

Now that we have established that I’m the perfect man maid for this job, let’s move on to the real matter of this business: the maid of honor speech.

Having had zero experience in being maid of honor and even lesser experience with speeches, I’ve been taking on this task being done to perfection with much gusto. After all, she is my best friend.

I won’t make you read my unwritten speech right now but let me tell you a little about my bff. Bernice and I met in Grade 8. Our parents were friends first and we bonded over our mutual love for Spice Girls. She loved Posh Spice’s ten storey platforms, I loved Baby Spice’s pin straight blond hair. We both loved Irish and Canadian boybands. She loved the gorgeous Irish boys of Westlife; I loved the grungy Canadian boys of The Moffatts (keep your judgements to yourself).  We both wore glasses, her hair was impossibly long and mine was impossibly short.

And later on, when life got serious, she became an Occupational Therapist, helping people physically function with dysfunctional limbs; I became a Kinesiologist helping people exercise their dysfunctional limbs. We were different and yet the same.

Bernice has always been one of those go-getters who knew exactly what she wanted in life and went for it. And it was this quality that she possessed that brought my maid of honor duties down to the simple task of just being her best friend…and making the wedding toast. So here I am, coming up with a game plan for this task.

I recruited the help of a handy maid of honor speech guidance counsellor–youtube. After reading many sample speeches and watching countless youtube videos, I realised a few things about wedding speeches:

- It is very hard to be funny while making wedding speeches. You either look like you’re trying too hard to be funny or it ends up being more of a roast toast, which then makes you look like a douchebag who’s trying too hard to be funny.

- Unless you are a heartless puppy-killer who hates the bride, the groom, raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, crying while making a maid of honor speech is about as sure a thing as breaking your face while trying to fly off a 10 storey building. Or breaking your foot while trying to hop like a bunny in a blanket.

- Wedding speeches needed to be short enough so people won’t fall asleep face first into an REM cycle in their dessert bowls but long enough so you don’t look like some stupid schmuck who only showed up for the free food and open bar.

_______________________________________________

Well all this seemed simple enough. But where did that leave me? I wanted this to be special. I prided myself at being able to write anything, but somehow mere clichéd words strung along in a sentimental sentence was not good enough. If I was going to write a cliché speech, it would have to be the best damn thing I’ve ever written in my life. It then occurred to me and my impossibly high perfectionist tendencies that I could employ one of the biggest wedding clichés to aid my clichéd words: a photo slideshow.

It was perfect, right? Pictures to supplement my funny comments. Also, wasn’t a picture worth a thousand words anyway? I probably wouldn’t even have to talk. But then I realised two things:

1) Photo slideshows are cop-outs.

2) Bernice would kill me if I showed the world our highschool photos. Actually, let me speak for myself…I would kill myself before I showed the world our highschool photos.

This is the closest thing you will see to a highschool photo of us.

As Bernice would say “…but we were so small and ugly in highschool”. Sure, our highschool photos have been shared and viewed by a select few on Facebook, namely our over-zealous highschool friends. But majority of our University and post-University life has been dedicated to destroying and/or untagging ourselves from these photographic crimes.

Yeh. No slideshow happening there.

So I guess my words for now would have to suffice. Because what exactly do you say to the sister you always asked for on her big day?… to the one who grew up with you and shared your troubles. The one who you shared your deepest secrets and dreams with over a Baskin Robbins milkshake. And the one who saw  the best and worst of you and still thought you were the bees knees.

The truth was that I had to accept that there was going to be nothing I could say to encompass how I really felt about her. (Although, I might use that little schpeel I did above). My mere cliché speech would have to be enough for now and maybe she would be happy with just that.

So here’s the game plan that I think can work for me and could probably work for all you other aspiring maids of honor out there: Probably nothing you say will come close to what you actually mean to say. Hollow wedding clichés barely scratch the surface, but they are what you have to work with. If you were beautiful in highschool and didn’t have a visible unibrow then all power to you; you can lean on a decent slideshow.

But for the rest of us, let’s take these clichés and make them into the best darn maid of honor speech EVER. The kind that barely begins to explain how happy and excited you are for her. The kind in which you are unable to express the joyous and yet bitterweet feeling you have. The kind that inspires the gals to shed happy tears and the guys to talk about their feelings.

After all, it’s the least we can do for our sisters and best friends….second of course to holding their dresses while they pee. (which I REALLY don’t mind doing, Bernice)

I need your help!

Let me start with my problem. You see, for the past 28 days, all I have been doing is waking up at 11 in the morning, watching Bold and the Beautiful, streaming movies, and drinking copious amounts of milk in hopes that it will heal my broken foot. The highlight of my day is taking a shower. Getting into a tub with one leg is a one-hour circus act, let me tell you!

So needless to say, life is tough. Clearly, I’ve been about as busy as a one-legged man at a butt kicking contest. But I have to be strong and keep trudging on…. doing absolutely nothing (thanks for the sympathy so far). If you asked me 28 days ago pre-foot breakage, I would have told you what all of you are thinking by now anyway. This is the perfect vacation. Exactly what I needed.

Don’t get me wrong, by no means am I dying to go back to work but I would like to be able to walk to Starbucks again and get myself a latte. Possibly toy with the possibility of having a social life again. Which brings me to the problem at hand:

Maybe its all the soap operas and mindless movies I’ve been watching. Maybe its all the milk I’ve been drinking that’s making me a human gas chamber (why would I tell you this? gross.) Maybe it’s sitting around all day doing nothing.

Maybe its all of the above and more that is making my brain like play dough in water, but my blogging is taking a downward spiral. The one thing I have left that convinces me I’m still somewhat intellectual and sane, is slipping. I have nothing to blog about.

Now wait, that’s not completely true. I do have a host of blogging topics that I could fire away, but unless you want to hear about me spending my days doing nothing, or the mild shock my body when through when I all of a sudden decided it was in my broken foot’s best interest to have a “calcium-rich diet” consisting of spinach and milk, or how I sleep 10 hours everyday, I got NOTHING for you. Ya hear me? Nothing.

This broken foot of mine has mostly been a block of epic proportions: a work block, a friend block, a Starbucks block, a cockblock…and the worst of all, writer’s block.

So I need your help. Since my usual ration of freaks, freak accidents and mishaps have been cut off for at least another few weeks, what can I blog about? Maybe you want my humorous take on something? Maybe you want me to talk about a particular topic? Anything at all that piques your interest? Or maybe you just want me to shut the hell up? Because I will even take that and go on with my life of movies and idleness.

So if you do have something in mind or you happen to think of something, please comment on this blog post (or shoot me an email) and let me know. I would love to hear from all of you. Maybe I might not be able to cover every single suggestion. Maybe some of your suggestions might suck. But I promise I will at least consider every single one of them.

Thank you all for reading. Hopefully, you will have a lot more interesting reads soon. But if you don’t, you’ll only have yourself to blame for that ;)