Finding a voice

Time to think hard about what I’m doing with this blog.  I started it long ago with no sense of voice, style, or purpose.  I didn’t plan it.  There were a few posts, a smattering of comments, and then a long silence.  The longer the silence the more embarrassed I’ve become.  Blog, what blog?  But I can write, I must be able to do this.

It’s just that I need to get comfortable with who to ‘be’ here to be able to post.  I suppose it’s the same as going into a room where you know hardly anyone.  Why are you here, and who are you in relation to that?  Then you’ll know what to say. I read some tips from Darla of She’s a Maineiac, who thinks you should first “figure out the basic direction you want your blog to go. What part of your life will you primarily focus on? What image do you want to cultivate? What type of writing style do you have?  Then, try listing adjectives that describe your personality … play around with the words until you can tweak them into a name that’s catchy but uniquely ‘you’ … Start with certain common phrases, songs, and literary titles, and then mix the words up… Finding that one succinct and original name can be challenging.”  Yes indeedy. So I’ve made some changes.

Here’s what I’ve done and where I’m going with it, this space with the new name and the squeaky new look.  I’ve deleted some awful posts that weren’t anything in particular and certainly not me. This has been some of the hardest thinking I’ve had to do in a long time.  So all right then (deep breath and scratching of head), Direction.  This is a space for me to reflect on what it means to be an older woman (there, I’ve said it), mother, sister, teacher, thinker.  Citizen, consumer, writer.  A space free of constraints that have roped my writing down for years.  Nobody here giving me any requirements, outcomes, criteria, word limits.  It’s just me, and you.

And who is “you”?  People who relate to my interests and outlook, somewhat similar to me, but not necessarily.  I can’t tell you how liberating it feels to be writing just as ME.  This is me, unmediated by anything except the site design.  And my choice of material I suppose. So Four Seasons may offer critique, insights, stories, views, rants, perspectives on what passes by me at given moments. Darla says to consider what part of your life you want to focus on.  That’s a tough one.  All the parts of me are indivisible.  I don’t want to say this blog is just about “work”, for instance.  My work, reading, down time, interests, concerns and fears, talents and flaws, achievements, experiences and mistakes are all part of the me-shaped space.  What holds these together is my fascination with process, with flow and connection, with the bigger picture.  I like to stand back and evaluate how things work together.  I find it helpful to be mindful.  I’m cultivating self-awareness and acceptance, key to withstanding change and feeling joy.

The primary focus of Four Seasons then is pieces reflecting in different ways on the experience of change. Then, What image?  I think I’m sharp, insightful, original, direct, intuitive, challenging.  I seek honesty, in myself and others.  I also know I’m far from perfect and I’m OK with that.  Writing style?  I want to be fresh, vivid, pared back; but this is hard – I like words too much.  I received fine advice a while back from writer James George who suggested I lose the adverbs. I want to be easy for you to read. It’s my lifelong challenge to reduce complexity in my writing.  So here’s a place where I can practise the discipline.  Adjectives that describe me?  Thinking, feeling, intuitive, listening, daydreaming, nostalgic.  I live my days through seething thoughts, images, sense recollections, associations, even when you talk to me.  My mind is an extension of dreaming.

Following the advice to play around with words, phrases, songs, titles, and to mix it all up brought me to the nub of the challenge.  I had a revelation. Yes I do think a lot about stories, places, and memory.  Huge fascination.  I have a lot of memories after all.  I adore old photos, and not just my own.  Any photos – the older the better.  What was happening as the shutter clicked?  What were they saying?  Were those clothes uncomfortable?  Was that a happy, loved dog?  What happened straight after the photo?  I wonder about a person’s story.  And I grew up with popular music that was so much about the narrative.  A song’s story was sometimes badly told, but the story elements were important.  There was character, plot and theme.  And I always listened to lyrics. So that brought me to wonder about an iconic New Zealand song of place, or experience of memory and time.  There’s an obvious one, a comfy sweatshirt of a song for me – Four Seasons in One Day*, by Crowded House. For one thing, in another life I made a ‘sampler’ quilt at a local high school evening class.  Completed in 1997, it was meant to teach the beginning quilter all different traditional types of hand-stitched piecework.  I gave it a theme by placing the same traditional house motif in each corner, intending to represent the family home in each season.  I labelled the quilt on the back in gold paint.

In choosing to use the name again here, I’m thinking of the way human experience can move us from fulfillment and joy, to meditative reflection, to loss and the need for connection and shelter, to hope and infinite tomorrows.  I want to allow room here for the life cycle, intrinsically a story with a plot line and a theme – and the duality, the sunlight and shadow, of the lived experience. Man I’ve set myself a big agenda. IMG_4386 IMG_4382

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