Weighed and measured and balanced

You know how a line from a movie often permanently etches its way into your brain and comes to mind frequently?

A line from the movie, A Knight’s Tale, is one of those quotes for me.  Adhemar, the villain, assaults defenseless underdog hero William and pummels judgment on him, “You have been weighed [punch], you have been measured [another punch], and you have been found wanting [final blow].  In what world could you possibly beat me?”

Every so often, even though I knew better, I compared myself to my peers, especially when it came to writing.  And sometimes I thought I just didn’t measure up.

I confess that when I log in to my blog site, I check my daily stats because statistics float my boat. Stats have been high recently, but when I analyze the breakdown, I see reality.

Most ‘hits’ on my blog aren’t for reading purposes; instead search engines hit on images used in my posts.  Actual readers of my blog seem quite low compared to  search engine hits.  Even my Wordless Wednesday photos get more action than my written posts.

I’m a simple writer.  I don’t write elaborate, flowery sentences nor do I use a myriad of literary devices.  Unfortunately, I don’t think I’m a very creative writer either and I don’t write fiction.  That’s probably why I don’t possess a burning desire to be a published novelist.  There are no fully-developed characters or intricate plots bouncing around inside my brain ready to burst forth into life onto a blank page.

I write about basic, uncomplicated things that occur to me from everyday sources and often from my faith.  I’m not much of a humor writer, nor am I satirical.  I find many writers today to be irreverent, edgy, sarcastic, profane, or politically correct.  I am none of those.   I’m pretty certain some people may think I write schmaltz – excessive sentimentality.

Early in my blogging efforts, I once received a caustic comment which I chose not to publish because not only did it insult me, it insulted the God I serve.  The commenter accused me, among other things, of writing “drivel.”  That person is entitled to his/her opinion, but that schmaltzy drivel that I write comes sincerely straight from my heart.   If that makes me mundane, so be it.

I figured out my writing style a long time ago.   Once upon a time, I sat around my college dorm room composing really bad poetry and short stories in an effort to prove to myself, my peers, and my professors that I really was a “creative English major.”   I also wrote scads of papers about symbolism, archetypal images, and other literary terms for my classes.  But those papers were forced because identifying those aspects didn’t come naturally to me.

I was one of those rare English majors who liked grammar.  Grammar makes sense to me.  Diagramming sentences is a breeze because it’s logical.  Syntax, sentence structure, is like an equation, which is why my Structures of English class earned me an easy A while my fellow English majors (those creative types who saw symbolism in everything I couldn’t, while spouting poetry at the drop of a hat) struggled to pass the tests.

I often questioned why I even had become an English major.  I loved to read and I enjoyed writing since stringing sentences together was a piece of cake.  I’m fairly sure those were the main two criteria I used to decide upon my major.

While enrolled in a journalism class, I realized writing about facts came extremely easy to me and was so much more enjoyable than writing about symbolism in a poem.   Just give me the facts and I can weave them into a story pronto.

When I was a college senior and getting weary of college life, my university initiated a Communications major.  Journalistic writing, speech, and oral interpretation classes, even acting, were more my speed than trying to identify archetypal images in Flannery O’Connor stories.

By this point though, I was already scheduled to student teach and since I was one semester away from graduation, now wasn’t the time to change majors.  I also did not want to incur the extra expense or time required to earn a Communications degree, so I settled for my B.S. in English Education.

But somehow, I just never fit the English major role, no matter how hard I tried.  I weighed and measured and found myself wanting.  No doubt I’m too literal, facts oriented, and a realist to boot.  Don’t get me wrong, I love reading classic works of literature, poetry, and drama; I’m just never going to be the writer of such worthy works.   And I feel it’s safe to say you won’t see me on the New York Times Best Sellers List.

My English teacher days came to a halt when I realized I just didn’t like teaching.   So instead I found a niche, for a time, writing feature stories in a daily newspaper, editing other people’s works, and volunteering to write and edit newsletters for various organizations.

All of these many years later, I am a blog writer.  I shouldn’t compare my blog to others, but sometimes I attempt to ‘measure’ my writing by ‘weighing’ it against Freshly Pressed blogs on WordPress, or writers whose blogs I stumble upon, or bloggers/aspiring novelists.

So give me the facts, ma’am, just the facts.  I’m a college-educated person with an English degree who really just writes because that’s what I do to express ideas that come to my mind.  My one shot claim to fame being Freshly Pressed was possibly the only experience of hitting the ‘big time’ with my blog that I’ll get.

My writing probably does not appeal to the masses, to those on the cutting edge, or to those who want to read about social or political issues of the day (believe me, I have distinct opinions on those but I choose not to publish them), or those who like to read particular genres.

I am a writer of life.  My life.  Real life.  My blog is a hodge-podge of thoughts, ideas, and experiences about family and faith because those things make up my life and give me joy each day in my book called Opportunity.  I hit the publish button in an attempt to share some of that joy, or insight, or opportunity to brighten another person’s day or give them something to consider.

And I believe I’ve finally learned to stop trying to be like other writers and just be me.  I’ve weighed, I’ve measured, and I’ve balanced.

See that Shakespeare class I took all those years ago really did teach me something because I have never forgotten a line in Hamlet  (Act 1, Scene 3).  The ill-fated Polonius, the King’s chief advisor/spy, gives fatherly advice to his departing son Laertes.  “This above all:  to thine own self be true…”

Copyright ©2012 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

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22 responses

  1. Amen Mama, amen. Be the YOU God created you to be, nothing more, nothing less, and do it with grace and joy; you are the best YOU I can ever imagine. 🙂
    (ps, I’ve also noticed that when I use “photography” as one of my tags that I have more hits than ususal.)

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  2. I think you’ve been reading my mind! You have a kindred spirit in me except for the college educated English teacher. (although English was one of my favorite classes). I’m afraid I have a recent post that will mirror this slightly. Like minds and all that I suppose. All of that to say, I’m glad to have found your blog. Writing from the heart is always best for me. Thanks for being true to that.

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    • Debby, I’m no mind reader — LOL. But we like minded bloggers do have kindred spirits. Thank you for your comment, yes “writing from the heart is always best!” I’m happy to welcome another reader to my little spot. I promise I’m going to visit your blog very soon!

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  3. Wow. We have a lot in common. I’m an English/journalism major, taught hs Eng and worked for several papers writing features and editing, etc… but I find that I love blogging more than anything I’ve ever written.

    I write about my failures and it’s so freeing!!! You have an interesting style and I’m sure to be back.

    Saw your comment on Debby’s Graceland.

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    • So nice to ‘meet’ you, Heidi. Sounds like we sure do have some commonalities, and like you, I’ve enjoyed blogging more than anything too. I’ve also immensely enjoyed getting to know people in the blogging community through comments and reading blogs. It’s an encouraging circle. Thank you for leaving a comment today and I do hope you come back soon.

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  4. You write great and I am glad to have the opportunity to read your blog and what you do write. Thank you for sharing what you do and writing so terrifically!
    God created you for a purpose and its awesome to hear you want to be who he created you to be and do what he created you to do.
    Thanks for the inspiration 😀

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    • You are very kind! Your comment encourages me a lot today and I so appreciate the time you took to let me know you like reading my blog. Welcome! I’m hoping to carve out some time to read some of my new readers’ blogs, yours included. Thanks for blessing me today!

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  5. Yes, I, too, loved grammar!! I also liked finding the symbolism in literature, but certainly would never endeavor to write anything like that.
    My blog just suits me fine, and so does yours!

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  6. I’m going to tell you a little story.

    There was an opening at an art gallery. All the critics and bigwigs of the art world were in attendance. There was champagne, caviar…all the trappings of the art world.

    On one wall was a picture by a relatively unknown, but up and coming artist who was having his showing that night.

    One person came up and stood in front of the picture and, with his hand rubbing his chin, said, “I believe this speaks of the nature of man. Our foibles, fallacies, dreams. It is meant to remind us of the reality of our lives. It is profound.”

    While he was speaking another person came up and tilting their head back and looking ove the top of their glasses, looking very intellectual, said, ” I’ don’t agree. I think it’s the portrayal of a dream; of all we want to be, long to be, hope we could be. It is meant to remind us that reality is just a dream that we make up. It is profound.”

    Just then another person came up and listening to those they believed to be true authorities, looked between them and the picture. The person tilted their head back and forth, looking at the picture then smiled. “It makes me feel nice. It makes me smile. It is beautiful.”

    The other two looked down at the third as if looking at an insect. Disdain and arrogance oozed from them as they chuckled wandered off to look at more pictures.

    Unknown to all of them, the artist who created the picture was standing back and listening to their comments. Quietly he walked forward and took the picture down off the wall and handed it to the third person.

    “You deserve this. Please take it. You are the only one here that has smiled and just enjoyed what you were seeing. Thank you for making me feel valued and appreciated.”

    With that he walked away leaving the person with a dumbfounded, but joyous look on their face.
    ————-

    It’s a simple story, but its one that I have to remember, too. I look at the blogs with hundreds, thousands, of followers and try to figure out how they do it, how they get so many people waiting for every word to drop from their mouths. But then i think, I bet they don’t talk to all those people. Who could keep up? How man really even comment on their posts.

    I love getting new followers. It makes me feel valued and appreciated, but while I may not have a lot of followers, the ones I have talk to me, comment on what I said, Whether they agree or not, at least they read it.

    Your writing is relatable. It makes me smile. It makes me feel good. I think it does the same for most of those who take the time to read it. Stay strong in who you are, in who God has called you to be. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. Rejoice in that!
    Jeanie

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    • Jeanie, I can’t tell you how much your comment encouraged me this morning! I don’t know why, but I’ve never heard or read the story you shared with me and I love it! So I must say, thank YOU for making ME feel valued and appreciated. I too wonder how the bloggers with so many readers attract such a following, and I agree with you, I bet they don’t engage with them. A sense of community is vital, I think, and that’s the one thing about blogging that has literally made my heart sing – reaching out and communicating with like-minded people, supporting, inspiring, and cheering each other on. That gives me joy. I rejoice today that God has brought a circle of new friends into my life via blogging.

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  7. Without analyzing just why, I’ve come to enjoy your blog. Just being you I think attracts like-minded folks. In today’s world, a real, candid and honest person is a great find, and someone to be cherished.

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    • Aw shucks, montucky, you’re making me blush. 😉 Seriously though, thank you! You could not give me a greater compliment than the one you just wrote – ‘real, candid and honest,’ that is what I strive to be. I’m pleased to have you in my treasured circle of friends.

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  8. To this day one of my greatest rewards/awards in writing was my 9th grade English teacher not just liking but loving my poems. Talk about encouraging! She woke up an excitement in me to find the right words, create original images, pay attention to dialog in the short story…and yes, she also know diagramming forwards and backwards. She didn’t just mark a grade…she left comments, lots of them. I know now how hard she worked to read all we wrote and still average multiple grades without the help of a calculator. She taught many of us so much in one year.

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    • What a great teacher she must have been. You not only learned to love words, you also learned a valuable life lesson from that teacher as well, Georgette – how to be an encourager. Thank you for practicing on me! 😉 Your comments always make me smile.

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