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Have a Fabulous Holiday Full of Food and Love…

…and football, if you’re into such things!

I’m going to be off-line until next Tuesday at the earliest… Even more than a premature jonesing for my daily internet fix, which I have survived many times, this is the first time in my life that I feel like I am actually going to miss my internet community.  I’m going to miss reading all the amazing, funny, original and/or wacky things that the blogs I visit provide me on a regular basis, and I’m going to miss sharing my world with my regular readers, and also the thrill of seeing that a new face has dropped in.

Here’s wishing you all a wonderful time.  I will be looking forward to when we meet again.

Love, 

Elena

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New Feature: Top 5 lists

I love to play the game “Top Five…” which is of course inspired by the novel “High Fidelity” by Nick Hornby (upon which was based the 2000 movie of the same name starring John Cusack).  I want to play it here on a once-a-week basis, and hopefully some of my readers will be inspired to add their responses in the comment section!

RULES:  

  1. Your list is not set in stone.  If five minutes after you get off the computer you remember a fruit you like better than kumquats and want to go back and modify it, that’s perfectly okay.  So don’t avoid answering just because you think we’ll hold you to your answer forever and ever.
  2. Answers on a list are in no particular order, unless you indicate otherwise.  In other words, you don’t have to think of your five favorite pizza toppings AND THEN decide which one should be #1, because order will be assumed not to matter.
  3. If you need to add a #6 and #7 because you just love too many actresses and don’t want to hurt any of their little feelings by leaving them out, feel free.  Go nuts.  As long as there is a little space left over in cyberspace for the rest of us when you’re done, knock yourself out.
  4. If you HATE the thing, like say the list is Top Five favorite flowers and you wish all flowers were extinct, then you can indicate at the top of your list that it is your Top Five Despised flowers or some such.  

(As an aside, does anyone have an opinion on whether I should provide my list when I announce the Top Five? Joy shows such great restraint in not answering her own Question of the Day right away over on her blog but on the other hand, someone has to go first, so I figured I would just start us off.)   

Now that we’ve established the rules of the game… wanna play?

In honor of Nick Hornby, let’s start with your Top Five Books.

My Top Five Books:

1. Escape From Mexico by Lewis Horton

2. West with the Night by Beryl Markham

3. Tao Te Ching by Lao Tse

4. Les Bouts de Bois de Dieu (God’s Bits of Wood) by Sembène Ousmane

5. Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince) by Antoine de Saint Exupéry

Okay, I guess I might have honored Hornby a bit more by including him on my list… suffice it to say that I love all the books of his that I’ve read!  I highly recommend them!  He would be #6… I swear!

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First Anniversary

As I reflect on passing the one year blogging mark, I am humbled and grateful for the experience.

A year ago my husband’s best friend was visiting us from Wales. He showed me the blog he had just started ( Movie Waffle  — A more witty and intelligent film review site could never be found!) and the idea of having an outlet for my thoughts was irresistible.  I had to be a copycat right then and there.

At first, seeing my words “in print” online was just as excruciating as it ever had been to see them genuinely in print. I remember the first time I got an essay published in the local newspaper, I stayed up all night wondering what stupid thing I’d said that the whole town would laugh at (and not in a good way) over their morning coffee.  My heart was racing when I heard the paper hit the front door, and my eyes could hardly focus as I scanned over my article.  Other than the stupid title they had given it, there was nothing particularly ridiculous about it.  Nothing to lose a minute’s sleep over.

Nobody read any of my first blogs.  Literally.  Not a soul.  That’s the great thing about WordPress: you can see precisely how few readers you have.  You can watch that hit line drag along the bottom of the graph, trawling for discouragement.  

But after a while, maybe it’s the sheer consistency of its horizontal straightness, you start to feel comforted by the fact that you can say anything you want and no one is there to judge.  You start to loosen up, speak your mind, send your internal editor off to play on Myspace and just sit with your authentic self and her thoughts and emotions.  You keep writing, now not with a desperate longing to be read but just to craft what it is you really want to say, even if no one is there to hear it.  (Yes, a tree falling in the forest really does make a sound!)

Then, after months of cruising and commenting on blogs, you find you have commented on the blogs of some writers who actually come to check out your blog.  You find that you enjoy the companionship, that you derive just as much satisfaction from reading and commenting on their posts as you get from seeing your own blog read, something that might not have happened at the beginning when your blog was new and you were so focused on developing it.  As happens in so many aspects of life, you find that once you have let go of what you so desperately wanted, in this case a community of intelligent and entertaining folks, then it comes to you in its own time.  Perhaps it has to be earned, by hanging in there and not giving up.

Or so I like to think.  I don’t know how representative my experience is of the majority of bloggers, maybe there are those who are highly popular immediately, and contrary-wise, those who never find an audience.  But this year has been such a great learning experience for me as a writer and I am really enjoying this new phase of interacting with some wonderful bloggers.  I hope they are getting as much out of my blog as I am from theirs: this is my new goal for year two.

And my Year Two wish to myself and my fellow bloggers (forgive me on this sentimental occasion one appalling cutesification): May the words be with you!

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Submission

The first time I submitted a piece of writing for consideration in a publication, I was 13.  I sent a poem to a local lit mag, very tiny thing it was, and I won some prize or other for my age group.  I was hooked.

Since then, I have periodically sent off my poems and essays and had some published in newspapers, magazines, online sites, and even a day planner.  The great majority have been summarily rejected, which I understand is the way the world works, not just in the publishing world but also the realms of employment, dating, even gardening; a sizable chunk of the desires we pursue and the projects we design do not take root.  I took some good advice a long time ago and started a “Rejection Slip Collection,” so that every new one I receive is a successful addition to my folder.  I see my moment of triumph being when the envelope slips into the mailbox slot, signifying that I have overcome my internal naysayer, who thinks that I have nothing of any import to add to the universe, and I’ve gone ahead, spoken my mind and submitted it for approval anyway.

 

But in the last few months that I’ve been blogging, I approach my submissions with a new attitude.  I do not feel as desperate to be accepted by an editor.  Sure, it would be wonderful to have the stamp of approval of a power player in the field, to see my name in the lights of the published word, but now, worst case scenario, I post my words on my blog.  There feels to be just as much chance for them to be read on the internet, where someone might be inspired to comment and thus make a personal connection with me, as there is for them to read me on the page, where the following silence would ring in my ears.

 

I can feel the power of the internet, the autonomy it gives us as readers and writers, the independence from the whims of the editor.  This can be a bad thing, as any old rot can appear “in print” online for the world to suffer through, or most likely ignore.  And I do not want to be misunderstood as disparaging the word that nestles itself on a piece of paper, because anyone who knows me is certain that one of my favorite circumstances is to be surrounded by books.  But as a plan B, when no one in a position to validate my voice chooses to do so, the fact remains that I cannot be silenced.

 

And neither can you.

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Internet Community, or Just a New Way to Play With Yourself?

What does it mean when the people you interact with most on Facebook are the people you live with?

I like that I am connected to people in my past. And by past, I mean just the last couple of years. We recently moved across the continent, and all those folks I got to know are now my “friends” on Facebook and Myspace. Whereas in my distant past those kinds of contacts would just have been lost, because no one calls or writes real letters, now I can say hey once in a while. Cute.

Gives me a way to minimize the trauma of moving to a new place, a town we aren’t going to stay in long term so there’s no point in trying to make new friends. But other than soothing my lonely ego, why bother?

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