Wednesday, August 09, 2006

It's Official: The Blog is Ruining My Life.

[posted by.....]

Maybe it started last Fall when I went to Louisiana as part of the Katrina Assistance Project. I came back a little edgy, feeling very little and powerless, aware that the world can be changed in a day by forces beyond us. I did what I do when I get edgy: I wrote about my experience; I'd love to have you read about it. Then I finished, and it was time to move on. Maybe I stayed edgy, maybe I'm remembering it all wrong, or maybe it had nothing to do with my trip to Louisiana, after all, my life was intact and I'd always known that all it takes is one small hurricane, one burst vessel, one evil terrorist, one moment of hesitation when pushing for the brake pedal. It wasn't my house, wasn't my family, though having seen it up close, it felt a little more personal than the rest of the world's tragedies, and somehow that's where this story starts in my mind.

It was a hard winter, I'm not sure why, but it seemed like work was hard, patients were struggling, and I was distracted.

At first I couldn't write. Then I couldn't stop: after several months hiatus, I resumed writing the novel I'd begun the summer before. By Spring, I was about to finish-- now the fourth unpublished novel that sits on my hard drive-- and I worried I would lose my mind when I finished.

I decided I wanted a Blog. I'd never read a blog, wasn't really sure what one was, but whatever it was, I wanted it. I looked at Michelle Malkin's blog. I still didn't know what a blog was. I still wanted one. I asked ClinkShrink and Roy to help me, then I invited them to co-own the blog with me.

It took me over. I love the blog, love having a forum to write, not having to worry about the seemingly endless rejections, the frustations of agents, publishers, editors. Who cares if my audience is small? Who cares if I don't get paid? Who cares if I can't put the posts on my C.V. Actually, I don't care about any of it; I love to write for its own sake, but I do want an audience.

I started reading other medical blogs; I've written already about my preoccupation with Fat Doctor. I like her, I worry about her, and I'm glad she's changing. It all reminds me of the days before the Blog, when Roy emailed me asking if I wanted to join some on-line networking thing. "Why would I want to talk to people I don't know?" I wrote back. So, why do I want to talk to people I don't know? Must be this transference thing-- good or bad.

I finished the novel. This is the one, I was sure of it, I'm still sure of it. If not, then the next one. My husband loved it. My cousin loved it. I showed it to an agent, a man who has been talking to me for ?eight years, and still won't represent me. He didn't love it. It needed work. I showed it to my friend, Peter Owens (writer, professor, guest blogger here) and he gave some suggestions.

I'm paralyzed. Maybe only a little-- I get bursts of motivation, I've made some changes in the book, but I don't know what I'm going to do with it next. I may take a writing course. I'll proably take a writing course. I filled out the application, sent in the fee, requested my college transcript. Told I'd need to submit writing samples, I responded "How many hundreds of pages would you like?" I wonder if anyone in the blogosphere would like to pay my tuition. While I wouldn't think twice about educating my children, it's a mind-boggling sum of money to spend on a grad school course for me.

The energy that used to go into my fiction, it's now funneled into the blog. Or should I say blogs: I've taken to commenting on other people's blogs and then, of course, I have to return to check the responses. Sometimes I still wish I'd picked a handle, wish I could hide just a little. I tell myself it's a summer thing, like my learning-to-be-a-gourmet cook project (if anyone in the blogosphere would also consider subsidizing my grocery bills...). The school year will start, my life will be a whirlwind of patients returning from vacations, varsity football, field hockey, parent whatevers, and even grad school. For now, it's August, I'm addicted to the blog, and my husband sits sucked into his yearly down-hill spiral with the Red Sox as they sink from first place. The Blog, I promise myself, will soon be just a blog.

All this whirling around in my brain, smooshed in there with today's menu of dinah-made shrimp salad over a bed of greens requiring an unbelievable number of ingredients, and I began my round of book-marked blogs. At first I thought I'd clicked on Shrink Rap: there was that damn Logo that ClinkShrink is so enamored by. I liked it better when she had a Duck thing. Then I realized I was on Dr. A's blog: now he was tormenting me, too. Very weird. Fat Doctor, too, has a giant "Dinah" logo! If I was prone to paranoia, this would have put me over the edge. Maybe it should. Just some affectionate teasing from my friends in Blog-o-Land?

It makes ClinkShrink so happy when she gets to gloat.

12 comments:

Jordan said...

I understand the blog thing....it takes over your life. I started blogging recently about medicine and writing short stories becuase I wanted to develop my writing abilities. You have written four books! Wow! I have looked into publishing some of my work....seems like an uphill battle with agents and publishers. How confusing! Good luck!
PS I enjoy your blog!

Sarebear said...

First, you need to try cocomment.

Go to the website for it and check it out, it makes following all the comments you've made various places MUCH FASTER AND EASIER to follow.

Bloglines makes seeing when the blogs I like have new posts, too. I LOVE bloglines. These two things make ALOT of difference, especially time-wise.

Gives back some of that energy used up in going all over the place finding blogs/comments.

Also, addicted to blogging though I am, there's been a period or two where I only checked in once a week or like very three weeks, if that. I found that that helped me know that it wasn't something unhealthy for me, and was a break if I felt overwhelmed.

Er, not that I'm trying to give you advice on what's healthy or not, really! Just relating my experience. I found, though, that the social interactions/connections and cameraderie, whether it's real or not, was something I missed, so I came back to more of a presence again, and yet wasn't so . . . . I MUST blog, i HAVE to blog . . .

Anyhoo, I really like reading what you write; I like your writing style, and how you express your points of view, even the ones I disagree with.

I used to be able to write really well, but I have alot of problems focusing for long enough to do so now. Sometimes a flash of that comes through in my writing, maybe . . . I hope to get some of it back.

It's my one year blogaversary actually. I keep meaning to check out your first book, it sounds really good.

I also really liked reading your Katrina experiences months ago when I read them; they really brought it alive (without traumatizing me, like watching too much news coverage can do . . .).

And I salute your for your efforts there.

I actually keep thinking of a train car w/your name as a logo . . . Someone's in the kitchen with Dinah . . . Someone's in the kitchen I know-o-o-o . . . you know, that song.

Lol!

I ramble, AGAIN! Dagnabbit, I really did used to be able to write well. See the poem reposted on my blog today . . .

Sarebear said...

Or does it make her happy when she gets your goat? Isn't she satisfied with a duck, she now needs your goat, too?

hee hee.

Dr. A said...

Oh Dinah, I hope you know I'm just showing you some blog love (hope that doesn't gross you out).

To be honest, Shrink Rap was one of my daily reads just as I was considering to do my own blog. I felt really intimidated by the high quality posts I was reading and really wondering if I could even have a blog of my own.

Then, one day, I posted a comment here and someone, I think it was you Dinah, posted something on my blog and I was so happy that someone from Shrink Rap was reading my stuff.

You probably think I'm making all of this up, and this is probably the most pathetic fan letter I've ever written. But, all joking aside, thanks for noticing me and my blog and encouraging me to journey onward.

Can I go back to joking around with you again? :)

NeoNurseChic said...

Please don't hate me... I'm not even a doctor (and I might just almost be a rather hated nurse practitioner...) - but just a blogfriend. hahaha :O)

ClinkShrink said...

Mwa ha ha ha ha ha.....

You threatened to send the duck to Vanuatu. You talked about eating the duck. Then even the logo wasn't safe---it was condemned to Hades ("that damn logo"). Ah well, it is safe now.

And it's a warm fuzzy feeling knowing so many fellow bloggers care.

jw said...

I've been online since the days of 300 baud text only modems ... I guess that makes me old.

Typing and opinionating ... they are addictive things. It doesn't much matter the topic ... from addictions through cooking into psychology and politics, the whole thing seems to draw me. The same seems to be true for others.

Today, I read four news aggregators, eleven blogs and four forums every day ... well, that's not quite true: I look at them every day and read what I think might be interesting.

Experience helps one tell at a glance what might be interesting.

In many ways the online life is better now: The old flame wars have slacked off and that is a BIG improvement. Destructive hacking was once a real possibility for anyone who annoyed another ... now not so much.

Go on writing and thinking and blogging and opinionating. It fills a communication need that many of us seem to be born with.

Dinah said...

Jordan, Sarebear, Dr A:
Thank you all for your kind words. Always appreciated.

Sarebear, I will look into co-commenter, thanks for the suggestion. The comments get emailed to us, and since I also check my email obsessively, I may skip bloglines!

Carrie: you will remain inspirational as an NP I'm sure. Alma de Cuba has a cool website, it's between 16th and 17th on Walnut. I hope you feel better soon.

Clink: where's Roy?

Roy said...

From your comments, I don't hear where the blog is ruining your life... it seems to me that it has brought you more focus about your writing (kind of a speed-dating for authors who want to experiment) and has filled some needs and brought entertainment and friendship to, well, strangers (I got you to talk to online strangers anyway!).

In fact, your entire blogging career so far has seemed to be marked with approach-avoidance, if you want my opinion (of course you do :-) . This post seems, to me, to mark the point at which you have surrendered to your online writing jones, and even embraced it, as evidenced by your own inclusion of the until-now dreaded, wood-paneled, avataristic moniker.

It has pushed you to pursue the grad course... that's fantastic! It's a great thing to sharpen one's skills in a concentrated manner like that.

As for paying for it... heck, if Kyle McDonald can turn one red paperclip into a house in one year via his blog... certainly we can develop a campaign here to send Dinah to school. I've got it... devote each page of your next published book to a donater (her name and website/blog of choice)... it would be at the bottom of each page... and the highest bidders (ooh, you could auction each page on eBay!) would get the first pages of the book. Folks could also bid on each chapter's first page, with larger type. It would gain buzz for the book. And, it will finally get your non-publisher guy to represent you.

The money will roll in like... umm... water off a duck (it gives me so much blogisfaction when I can continue a pun ad nauseum).

Or, something like that.

If you get extra money, Clink and I can use it to go back to school as well (I think my next one will be a Masters in Medical Management, or MBA for doctors, so I can finally help fix our crappy mental health care "system" in the US).

You go girl!!

On the Same Page said...

A while back, I took the LSAT, thought about an MSW/JD (focus on child welfare), then an MPH because a friend with an MD/Ph.D. got an MPH from Johns Hopkins, then just got the MSW.

I'm currently taking a (very discounted) university course on programming in Java.

Don't bemoan your talent. Others can only dream about your gifts.

Fat Doctor said...

Dinah, I teased you out of deep love and admiration. Nothing scary or malicious. :)

As for blog addiction, remember that you can stop anytime you want. Not that I think you should, but that's what I tell myself every day.

Dreaming again said...

It's a good thing, to be a Blog a holic, really, it is.

Look at all the places we get to "go".

All the neat people we get to "meet".

It would be sad without blogging.

And besides ...if you do get your books published, no one is going to get nearly as excited as your blogmates!