Hi guys, one of my dear writing friends (not sure if he wants to be named) informed me that a post I accidentally wrote in THIS blog’s editor even though it was actually destined for ANOTHER blog’s editor got sent out by email to him. Which means, I guess, that even though WordPress shows me under “People” that I have zero “email followers,” anyone “following” my blog, even in WP Reader, may have gotten notified of that post, by email, even though I realized it (AW FORK!!!) as soon as I hit the publish button (since the “published” notification appears in tandem with the site name) and deleted the post immediately afterwards for movement to the other blog. Sorry guys! Massive digital klutzing in progress.
On that note, I guess I will say this.
I dreamed of having a blog for about five years before I actually had one that more than a handful of people knew about. (Maybe longer than that, actually.) I was aching to get out there “in the arena” with all the other folks saying schtuff.
BUT I WAS TERRIFIED.
Terrified of making even the slightest mistake. Back then, I was dying to become a paid editor (I did it for free for ages before that, also did it for any company I worked AT) and I figured it would be RIDICULOUS to market myself as an editor and yet continue to publish, since any mistake would look RIDICULOUS. You know, dangling prepositions, all that kind of horrible, evil stuff that the world simply cannot function WITH, in the eyes of the prescriptivists.
Anyhoo, eventually I just couldn’t keep my writer’s mouth shut anymore and I finally ventured into the arena. I started on Prose, under a pen name (“Petalouda,” which became “Petal Ouda” on Facebook, since FB requires first and last names).
I also did some tentative and sporadic blogging using Github and Ghost, which very few people knew about. Then, mainly thanks to urging from a then-new writing friend, Magda, I started publishing over on Medium. I decided to use Nadine JL, and at some point I changed my FB name accordingly. Medium’s built-in writer community was immediately addictive and it kept me going to have Magda there, daily being far more brave in publishing than I had ever been (and writing in a second language, no less, under her real/full name).
Why did I use a pen name/quasi-pseudo? Because the creativity was bursting out of me and yet I couldn’t figure out which name to call myself. Use my married name? My birth name? My modified birth name (“Nadine”)? My middle name? And how do I resolve my G-rated “mother” and “professional” persona(s) with my PG/Adult-rated “crazy creative” persona? ARRRRRRRGHHHHH
I was stuck in major analysis paralysis.
Finally, after watching enough youtube videos of this ilk:
“#AskGaryVee Episode 30: How to Pick a Name for Your Business” — in which at minute 04:26 Gary (Vee/V-Chuck/Vaynerchuck) says “Stop worrying about the name, and start worrying about the product,”
which basically iterates everything about names that my bootstrapping husband said to me,
and this ilk: “Seth Godin Says EVERYONE Should Blog “— in which Seth says “even if it’s not under their own name, every single day,”
and so on, and meanwhile having (mostly) left behind my editorial/business dreams, I just went for something and, well…. went for it.
What was I talking about before?
Making mistakes. Forking hell, those mistakes are tough to swallow!
Fear of being wrong! Every dang day!
I like to be right, goshdangit!
All the dang time!
Because I’m so special, yo!
Can’t touch this!
Actually there’s something else I remember, so clearly. It sticks out in my mind in a huge way.
When I lived with my family in Cambridge UK (— aside: I know, I must seem like such a spoiled brat. That Cambridge stint was thanks to my husband. But also thanks to me supporting him supporting me supporting him… or not… and all THAT is also ultimately partly due to my parents and/or his parents and/or our grandparents and/or the communities surrounding us/them supporting us/them and/or not supporting us/them… ad infinitum… you get the picture)
Ahem. As I was saying, when we lived in Cambridge UK, a couple of years ago, I took a little continuing education writing class. I think it was for flash fiction. It was only two hours long, on a single Saturday morning.
I went in, and after once again staunchly refusing to fill in the “What race and religion are you” questionnaire that every single goshdang UK organization asks you to fill out, and, while the teacher had not yet arrived, sitting there in front of the whole class as the friendly administrator came in to say, excuse me Mrs. ——– , but you’ve forgotten to fill in your race and religion section of the enrolment form”
and I was like, kind of quietly, because I’m sort of shy
“It’s Ms., if you don’t mind, as per the form, and no, I didn’t forget to fill it out, I put N/A because I don’t believe race nor religion is applicable FOR ANY REASON on these forms, and once upon a time governments found it very easy to round up a bunch of people they wanted to exterminate based on what they filled in for these race and religion forms, DO YOU REMEMBER ABOUT THE SECOND WORLD WAR perchance”
—but without capitals and the perchance.
And she kind of went
and kindly left with the “incomplete” form, still “N/A”
but anyway that’s not what I was getting at…
What I was getting at is the fact that that teacher, that teacher for that little £11, two-hour continuing ed. class in a room of the middle school that my eldest kid had been attending was INCREDIBLE. Her name was Ruth and she was just about as badass as they come
she had published some mystery historical crime thrillers or some such and she just kind of leaned there against a desk, and asked us thought-invoking questions, in a slow cowgirl drawl —
What the heck am I talking about it was a kind of educated high British accent
but her whole persona came across kind of like my real-life cowgirl aunt Carol, who runs a ranch in the backwoods of Canada
and she had a kind of subtle joie de vivre and yet no-nonsense attitude and a sparkle in her eye and a true desire to help struggling folks like me, and the others in her class, get a grip on storytelling
She said a bunch of neat stuff
She asked a lot of neat questions
and at the end of the class, when everyone else had left, I asked her a couple things.
I said, why do you use a pen name for your books
(because I’d been pondering using a pen name but didn’t know quite why)
and she said, “Privacy. And Fear of Being Wrong.”
And let me tell you, to have this Cantabrigian accomplished woman who had been teaching us in her upperclassy-sounding cowgirl accent how to write smoke-length and six-word stories
tell me, in six words, that she, Ms. Perfect,
understood about Privacy and fear of being wrong,
that personal flash truth she told me
set me free in some amazing way.
And all these things, these youtube clips and these writing friends with guts and these Facebook writing groups and this continuing ed class and these accomplished successful writers sharing their wisdom regarding artistic freedom, and finding it however you can,
all helped me learn to fork hell with my mistakes.
And I hope that’ll work for you, too.
Photo courtesy of Renato Abati via Pexels; resembles me only perhaps around the dress; came up in random search for fork flower.
p.s. Ruth‘s website
Thanks to each and every one of you for your understanding support, and for putting up with my many, many mistakes. ❤︎ Very, very much appreciated.