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 By Spring, I was about to finish-- now the fourth unpublished novel that sits on my hard drive-- and I worried I would lose my mind when I finished.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.