Sunday, October 28, 2007

Me and my laptop~

I was reading Mridu Khullar's blog
yesterday when I saw that I'd been tagged. That means I have to write a meme (which I assume is pronounced mee mee) about my strengths as a writer.

I will do it, but my natural tendency is to chronicle my weaknesses. I am built that way, very hard on myself.

I stay out of the spotlight; if it finds me, I smile and bow, squinting into the glare, and shrug with that palms up gesture. Nice, thank you, but I really don't belong here.

So to document my strengths-- as I see them-- makes me uncomfortable. But I will do it, and I will not add any disclaimers, another of my tendencies.

I write from the heart. My essays, I've been told, resonate with readers who identify with the experience I've put on the page. My daughter tells me I have "no filter," meaning I share too much. I am comfortable sharing a fair amount, but what I don't share would make for some damn good reading-- a "steamah," as we say in Boston.

I have learned to cut out the crap. I write, and go back and "kill my babies"-- a writing term. I start out including all the important details, and then say, "Oh please. Who cares? Who needs to know?" Then I delete my intro, and bring readers right into my living room, bypassing the foyer. Actually, I don't kill my babies; I save them for another day. They are way too good to kill. If you only knew!

I love details. I am a close observer of people and nature. An eavesdropper extraordinaire! This helps me bring authentic details into my writing. I've been told that my dialogue rings true. Sometimes, if I'm lucky, or have had a glass of wine, I can add a touch of humor. And one friend tells me I have an "edge." He says that's a good thing.

My writing is a work in progress, and the fact that I can think of a couple more things to add to this list in the near future is encouraging. It's also good to be forced to say something positive about myself. I write from the heart. I cut the crap. I add authentic detail.

So I will give this opportunity to other writing friends of mine if they would like to take it.

Sarah M.

Bob S.

Gary P.

Read my essay at The Painted Door

If you'd like a writer's workshop check The Internet Writing Workshop


Rick Bylina said...

What would have happened had the real secret service shown up at your middle school? Oh my, what a story for you to write.

But where was the inspired kid who had on a Bush mask to push his agents around?

Write on...

Verification word: cyvor. The illicit lover of cyborgs.


Lisa said...

You do write from the heart, and it touches mine. I'm so glad that story had a happy ending, Ruth. (((Hugs)))

Janice Thomson said...

You have analyzed your writing abilities to a tee Ruth. You do write from the heart in a clear precise manner and with a touch of subtle humor - it is why I so enjoy your blog.
As for your story I think you better consider writing a novel. This was poignant, breathtaking and truly heartwarming. You brought the reader right there with you to experience both the fear and the joy. All I can say is this: excellent in every way.

Anonymous said...

Being curious about the pronounciation of meme after seeing it on many different blogs, I did a little research. It can be pronounced meam (like dream) or mem (like mem-ory) or mim (like dim. So go ahead, pronounce it
me-me. Who will know the difference?

Ruth D~ said...

Rick~ Bush masks are so passe. Now the head of horror is one of the candidates who is now campaigning. Take your pick . . .

Lisa~ Thank you. Your photography touches hearts too, you know. :>)

Janice~ No one could write poems more drom the heart--and soul-- than you do, not to mention your beautiful art. And thanks. You leave me blinking in your spotlight. :>)

Ruth D~ said...

Anon~ I am so glad to know that. Any of those pronunciations is more appealing than my guess. :>) I assumed it was mee mee because it was all about, in this case, me. Thanks for the research.

Dawn said...

You have a beautiful cat, too. :) I'm glad you can be positive and not just pick on yourself. I thought it was killing our darlings, not babies. But I don't know where that came from -- a mystery writer I suppose?


Ruth D~ said...

Dawn~ Darlings! of course. No wonder I felt kind of crude writing babies. But my darlings are my babies. I created them. :>)

Barbara said...

I love your essay. Been there, done that more times than I can count. But those little words "benign" and "come back in a year" always sound like music to my ears.

Bob Sanchez said...

Hey Ruth, you and your gang of teachers would make some tough secret service agents.

You judge yourself well when you say you write from the heart. You're an excellent writer and photographer. Nice work!

Josie said...

Ruth, you're an excellent writer. I felt relief go through my body when you got the results of your biopsy. My goodness! I was right there.

Suzan Abrams said...

Are you a perfectionist, Ruth? I liked the part where you said that you viewed your writing as a work-in-progress. An inspiring post! Thanks for stopping by my blog where you'll always be very welcome. :-)

oldmanlincoln said...

Killing babies is a term I never heard before. I guess I don't associate with the right crowds. At my age I don't associate much except through my blogs and photos. Which is what brought me here. My photos and your comments about them. Thank you for those.

I have been writing for a long, long time and even did a television series that I also hosted for 13 weeks. Can't beat that. Write the shows and then host them. Parker Pen ltd was one of the sponsors but it was so long ago about the only thing I can remember about it was that it was filmed in West Palm Beach, Florida and we had a big crew working every day for one week -- to film the 13 one-half hour shows.

Interesting to me because I had never done it before and was approached by investors from Connecticut and Florida. I also wrote two or three books that were sold at the end of the show via the show.

The good thing about television is that you are seen by millions upon millions of people and in books I write it is one person at a time. The odds are against you in books, articles and so on. But the internet is totally different and it approaches audiences found in television. So I am really trying on the Internet.

The first book I ever wrote was bought by a university bookstore. Their first order and my first sale was for 3,000 books. Imagine that.

Alice Folkart said...

It's all true, all good, all wonderful. And, don't get a 'filter.' You tell it like it is, only better.

Do you know Bailey White? If not, check her out. You don't write 'like' her, but do write in the same spirit.

I think this is a very good exercise. Certainly can't hurt.

Voyager said...

You are a great judge of you. Spot on!
I am ashamed to admit I am 50 but have never gone for a mamogram. I'm not sure what is stopping me. Fear of pain? Denial? Stupidity? Yes, yes, and yes.

Ruth D~ said...

You are all more than kind. I appreciate the comments, and new ideas.

Next time I write, I'll kill my "darlings" rather than babies, even if it mean the same thing, it sounds better.

Alice~ I'll check out Baily White to see what I can learn and enjoy.

V~ I still have mixed feelings about mamograms, but a "baseline" one to start is a good idea. Ignorance is bliss and foolish, both.

Alice Folkart said...

Ruth: Sorry this is so long - please feel free to delete it.Your piece rang so true to me because I've been through all that, except that when they did the biopsy, it was positive. I was very lucky, because I had only a lumpectomy and radiation. Now days, it would be a full round of chemo too. But, all of your observations about the doctors looking off into the middle distance while they're examining you and waiting for 'that' phone call, are so accurate.

When I first went to my doctor with the 'lump,' he said, "Cyst, nothing to worry about. Come back in a month. It will be smaller.' In a month, it was larger, but, as far as he was concerned, it was still a cyst. I had a hiking trip to Germany planned. He said 'Go!' I did. I might as well have stayed at home. I was enveloped in terror the entire three weeks. I was alone, the whole time, and every time I passed a church (an unlocked church - so many were unlocked only for services), I ducked in and said a prayer to the resident saint - 'Let it be just a cyst, please!"

I called for an urgent appointment as soon as I got home. His office didn't think it was urgent, but I insisted. I was becoming the 'nuisance patient.' He greeted me cordially, joked around a bit, then put his fingers on the lump and his face went white. I knew I was in trouble. "Come on," he said. "We're going across the hall to see the surgeon, I want him to do a needle biopsy right away." He couldn't do a needle biopsy - no matter how many times he jabbed - the mass was completely calcified. They scheduled the surgical biopsy for the next day.


I waited and waited. Two days. Three days. Four, five, six. I called my doctor, and his office people said, "Our of our the surgeon." I'd been calling the surgeon. His office nurse kept telling me that he would call me back, but he never did. Finally, on day ten, I'd called three times, with no results. Finally, I tried at 6:30 in the evening, expecting to leave a message, and he answered the phone himself. I asked him for the results. He said that by law he had to give them to me personally, in his office, and he was a very busy man, and I'd just have to wait." By that, I knew that it was cancer. But, I yelled at him, "I need to know. I'm coming over there."

"I'll be gone. I'm just leaving now."

"Well, fine," I screamed. "Then, I'll just drive my car through your front window (he had a store-front office) and be waiting for you when you come in tomorrow."

He relented, said that I could come over. I did. He told me the prognosis and what he intended to do, never looked at me or looked me in the eye. I sat there, as you described, shaking, cold, frozen, stiff, you name it.

He did the second surgery, just to remove more tissue around the biopsy site and to take a few lymph nodes for disection. The nurses all said that the work was beautiful, technically and cosmetically. I agree, although my right breast will always be an A cup, while the left has come into its own as a B+.

I went to him for the final appointment before he released me to the radiation team. In an attempt at being light hearted, I said, "I understand that two years with no recurrence with this kind of cancer is considered a cure. So, I'd like to make an appointment with for two years hence - I'll bring the Champagne!"

He glared at me, perhaps the only time he ever made eye contact, "Don't buy the Champagne too far ahead - you'll be back, they all come back!"

That made my blood run cold. Several years later when I had to have another biopsy, I asked if he would be my surgeon. "Oh, no," replied the nurse. "He has left us." I asked why and she mumbled something about patient opinion.

Anyway, all that happened in 1986, and definitely changed my life. But, aren't we lucky?

Sorry to chew your ear off. But, had to tell you.


PS - I have a mamogram every year, but I don't do self exam - it's too scary. Breasts feel full of lumps all the time, and I just can't see living from one biopsy to the next.
PPS - hope you like Bailey White (Ihope I've spelled her first name correctly)
- Show quoted text -

Ruth D~ said...

I wouldn't delete this for the world, Alice. It speaks for so many women, and to so many!

Pauline said...

I walked that "oh my god it might be cancer" route - you have put the whole exprience in words that take your readers on that journey with you. Glad yours had a happy ending, too.

Wonderful writing as usual

Ruth D~ said...

Thank you, P~ It's scary enough with a happy ending. My heart goes out to those who had to battle for their lives. I'm glad you got good news, too.