Tag Archives: blogging

Lately, Hating Everything I Write

I don’t know if this is a rite of passage for new bloggers or a normal phase that any writer may encounter at any stage in life, but lately I feel so “…MEH…” about what I write.  And it isn’t that I have writer’s block.  If anything, I am overflowing with words. I can sit down and type 1,000 words as easily as any other task. Will the words make sense or be pleasant to read?  That is another question. What seems to be my problem lately is that I HATE what I’m writing. I hate my new posts even after I am satisfied enough to publish them. I hate my old drafts, and they keep building up in my WordPress Dashboard. I probably have two dozen drafts that will never be published because when I read through them, I think they are terrible.  Does anyone else have this problem?


It wasn’t like this when I started blogging.  I dove in with ample enthusiasm and absolutely no idea what I was doing.  I was so excited that, pardon the expression, I didn’t see the forest for the trees.  I just knew that I was such an awesome writer full of awesome ideas! That is probably the best way to jump into blogging, without really knowing how complicated the process can become.  Flash forward several months and the pain is acute.  I am aware of my shortcomings as a writer and my assorted faults as a person.  This phase of frustration seems to correspond with the growing pains of striving to become a better writer, but also with the heightened stress of putting out  fires set by some invisible arson.  Sometimes when I sit down to read through my drafts my mind wanders to the more important issues at hand, and when I come back to the text I think “Ugh, booooor-ring!”

Going through this painful and rather embarrassing process has taught me valuable lessons about my writing and myself.  For instance, I have yet to find my voice.  When reading the work of fellow bloggers, I tend to nitpick myself, forgetting I am still very new to writing, not as developed as my peers.  I become quite self conscious when reading some awe inspiring post by a veteran blogger, knowing I could NEVER write that well no matter how much work I put into my comparatively pathetic attempts.  It isn’t that I feel jealous of the arguably more talented writers, (because without them how would we set the standard?) but for me, the double edged sword of reading their writing is the inevitable feeling of both admiration and terror.  I want to write as well as them, but my subconscious starts nay-saying and discouraging me, the nasty little bitch.

So what does one do when finding oneself in such a situation? Well, I don’t know what most other writers do, but I developed a plan do deal with my crazy neurotic self.  And, in case anyone wants to market this as a self help scheme, I have put it all in list form!  You’re welcome!

  1. Ask the Tough Questions.  First I pursued the source of my dislike for my own writing.  Did I really hate everything I wrote, or was there something else going on?  I discovered A LOT of bottled up stress from external factors, some of which I could not control, and that was negatively affecting my writing.  It was also decimating my energy, not just for writing, but for other enjoyable projects.  In short, I was getting depressed and needed to confront my feelings in order to move on.
  2. Confront the Problem(s).  Next I approached my “hated” drafts.  Were they really that bad?  Okay, some were.  But instead of scrapping them all, I kept them for future use.  Maybe a snippet from one, a paragraph from another, and so on, could be useful…Most were not terrible, it was just my perception at the time.  This same approach could be used for putting all other problems (not just ill-fated blog drafts) into perspective.
  3. Take an Honest Look at Yourself.  I then looked at my relationship with fellow bloggers.  How did I see myself compared to them?  I have always struggled at putting myself on equal footing with peers.  This goes back to childhood, when I was teased for being shy, ugly, too quiet, too poor, and friendless (which made it difficult to actually make friends).  So I gave myself a pep talk.  Where had all bloggers started out? The same place as me.  So there is no reason to be ashamed of my work, and while I certainly have room to grow, there is no reason to feel inferior.
  4. Ask One Last Hard Question.  Last of all, I asked myself, “Do I still want to do this?”  Over the last couple of weeks I had become so distracted by all the fires I was putting out, I lost interest in doing many things, one of which was writing.  That was part of my response to a high level of stress.  When you are under so much stress, you might feel compelled to let go of anything that seems like an obligation.  But blogging isn’t really an obligation for me, or at least it shouldn’t be.  I started doing this to express myself freely, bypassing annoying obstacles along the way.  Why give up now, when I am still barely getting my feet wet?  There is still so much to experience!

After my self-therapy session, I feel better.  I don’t look better, but that might require more sleep and a trip to the chiropractor.  I can honestly say, though, that now I really LOVE this post. I love it more than when I started writing it.  I am really happy that I wrote about writing, or more to the point, about fighting through the obstacles that can prevent us from writing.  And I hope that all you writers out there are loving what you write.  That is what it’s all about.

— G

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Irons In The Fire

January was a busy month.  I have several irons in the fire and never seem to stay still long enough to gather dust.  Besides adding two new job titles — paraprofessional and literacy tutor — to my responsibilities at the school, I’ve been busy with projects at home.  Watermarking my digital photos as an attempt to protect them has become one priority.  I don’t know that my photos are actually worth stealing, but they are mine, I put work into them, they are special to me.  Anyone thinking of snagging them consider this: they are kinda shitty compared to professional photographs.  Bitch please, I’m an amateur photographer.  If you’re going to commit intellectual property theft, you are on the wrong site.

My beautiful picture

I did a round of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writer’s Month).  The first time I encountered this on WordPress I thought another blogger was writing about Japanese anime characters so I disregarded.  In late December I received an e-mail from a blog I subscribe to, challenging me to participate in NaNoWriMo for January and write 500 words every day.  There were no strings attached except that participants make a valiant effort to write.  My progress was nothing to brag about, but I did make an effort.  Part of my problem was that I ended up ill for ten days, and during this time I didn’t have the energy to approach my computer, let alone type 500 words a day.  I managed to put extra effort into what I did type, and January writing projects were quite enjoyable.  So, I am happy to report that while I didn’t write a novel (and don’t intend to at this point) I have developed the habit of wanting to type about 500 words each day.  That is a good habit to develop!

I began a new project and a bit of a crash course.  I have had this fantastic book, Will Write for Food, by Dianne Jacob, for two years now, and just cracked the cover this month.  I am nearly halfway through and am learning invaluable information about…drum roll please…food writing!  Before I even considered starting a blog, my husband was encouraging me to write a cookbook featuring old family recipes and “secret” ingredients.  Unsure how prepared I was for such an endeavor, I ordered Jacob’s guide and it sat in a corner for two years.  Now that I (finally) opened it I can say that Will Write for Food is THE quintessential resource for food writers.  I am gaining nothing by making positive statements about this book, I just really think it is wonderfully comprehensive!


After I finish reading the book, work on the suggested exercises and research areas of interest, I will (hopefully) be a more experienced writer.  In the meantime I am launching an ambitious little blog called Okra Blossom, focused on anything food related.  I took a nap a few days ago, and when I woke up I HAD to start another blog immediately, and I HAD to call it Okra Blossom, because that is my favorite flower.  As impulsive as I can be, this is not without some deep and careful (apparently subconscious) thought (while I was napping?) but I am enthusiastic about the positive repercussions of having a semi-professional food blog.  I will still have my any topic/any time eclectic chaos occurring at Blogging Pioneer.  But Okra Blossom will be more laser focused and (again hopefully) will help me develop a specific skill set as a writer.  If you are interested in reading my food writing, come visit me soon at:


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A Newbie Blogger’s Best of 2013

My G-Raffe profile pic from the infamous Facebook giraffe riddle.

My G-Raffe profile pic from the infamous Facebook giraffe riddle.

I decided this morning that I had better get my Best of 2013 published before much more of 2014 slips away.  I also have had blogger’s block thanks to copious amounts of cold medicine and a horrible attitude (sorry immediate family for anything mean that I did to you over the weekend), but my notes for this post are pretty well rounded so I can probably type on autopilot…It just took a really long time to figure out how to spell ‘pilot’.  Hmmm…this head cold is worse than I originally suspected.  Regrouping…

As I have only been blogging for about three months, I still don’t know much (of anything) but I am trying to catch up with the learning curve as quickly as possible.  What I have learned by reading the works of veteran bloggers is that I am one tiny goldfish in an immense ocean of talent, and I am deeply humbled.  After reading a few Best of 2013 posts from highly creative and accomplished bloggers, my meager victories  seem like the stunted and hesitant steps of a toddler.  These bloggers have been researching, photographing, writing, and editing until their eyes nearly pop out for years; what have I done?  But my husband has a saying: “You’re steering a boat, not a race car!”  My boat has just left the dock and is still getting pointed in the right direction, so I have to take things slow and remember to celebrate the small victories.  They keep me going for now.

This is my Newbie’s Best of 2013:

7.  Just starting a blog!  I want to send out thanks to my sister and husband for encouraging me to start writing my stories.  If not for their support, I may not have even bothered trying in the first place.


6. Reuniting with people on Facebook.  An important part of succeeding as a blogger is networking, so I had an ulterior motive when I joined Facebook.  I needed a steady population of readers to circulate my blog around, and this social network seemed like a perfect place to start.  But finding old friends and sharing special moments and funny conversations has become the primary benefit.  It is not nearly as important that my friends like or even read my blog, but I do appreciate the support of those who have been visiting me at WordPress!  Their encouraging comments have inspired me to continue writing and thinking about new topics.  Thank you, friends!

5.  2,000 views by Christmas!  When my blog reached 1,000 views by Thanksgiving, I set a goal to reach 2,000 views by Christmas.  For veteran bloggers, this number probably doesn’t seem like a big deal, but for me it was a goal to work toward through diligent writing and consistent enthusiasm.  The credit really goes to my readers for visiting my blog, and I was thrilled to reach the goal just before Christmas.  Who knows, maybe we will reach 5,000 views by Easter!

4. Viewers logging on from over 30 different countries.  It has been fascinating to see that people from all over the world have been reading my blog!  In 2013, viewers from over 30 different countries read my posts.  The funniest/weirdest search term leading to my blog in 2013 was “cooked camel”, allowing a viewer in Kuwait to find my satirical post about cooking a camel for Thanksgiving.

Camel 001

A card I bought in Kuwait, with the recipe for stuffed camel inside. Yum!


3. My most liked post, about Ross the Dog opening his Christmas present.  I tried to write a few posts with a serious tone, and I worked very diligently on them, but they were not nearly as popular as ‘Christmas for Ross the Dog’, a fluff piece about my dog, who can unwrap presents without any help.  It was easily my most well received post to date.  Go figure.

"Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy!!!"

“Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy!!!”


2. Building rapport with other bloggers and learning from them.  I cannot stress this enough to other newbie bloggers: veteran bloggers are role models that can teach us how to be professional, ethical, and eloquent.  I have learned so much and made friends with a handful of amazing writers who I can look up to as mentors in the blogging world.  I want to express gratitude to those who have been friendly, professional, and fun to correspond with over the last few months.  Thanks veteran bloggers!

1.  Most popular picture of me in 2013.  Does it need explaining?

Love Henya3

Having a moment with my sister’s best hen at the Missouri homestead.

Thanks to all my readers for making my blogging debut a very satisfying experience.  I look forward to writing more stories for your enjoyment!  Have a blessed 2014!

— G

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My Biggest Fan Doesn’t Read My Blog

My husband spent two days with his best friend, hunting and making homemade sausage and beer.  During that short time I managed to get bored enough with life to get into my first official online cockfight with several completely insane total strangers.  This all played out in the Comments Section of an article about mountain lions in South Dakota.  Why did I do it?  Why didn’t I know better?  I should have realized that everything I wrote, no matter how factual or rational, was going to be used against me by bat-shit crazy people, because that is the Law of the Comment Section.  But, like I said, I got bored, I had nothing better to do, and I just…couldn’t…resist the Comment Section!

Two things we MUST take from this story: 1) you will rarely walk away from Comment Sections feeling good about yourself, unless you are a psychopath, and 2) I have a serious problem with cat people, and they with me.

While I was at work I received a text from my husband asking if I wanted to meet him for lunch, and I responded “yes!” because after two days, I felt like I hadn’t seen him in forever, and I kind of wanted to tell him about the mountain lion argument.  I was a little embarrassed about it being out there on the Internet, but not ashamed about sticking to my beliefs.  It was the first time I had been publicly and personally attacked by absolute strangers who also happened to be absolute jackasses, but it likely wouldn’t be the last.  I will have to get used to this if I want to continue blogging, especially about issues that are controversial.  The problem is that stupid people might be my Achilles Heel when it comes to tackling those controversies.

When we slid into the booth at the restaurant my husband looked at me with a slight smile and said, “So I saw that crazy discussion thread about the mountain lions this morning.”  I stared at him.  The dude never looks up anything on Google+.  Then he really blew my mind: “I read your blog too.”  Oh crap.

“What, my ranting in my last post?” I asked feebly.  I really didn’t want him to start reading my blog during a particularly bitchy time in my life…

“No, I just looked at your photos of the snow in South Dakota.  They are nice, except they are not all from the same snowfall.  One is from a later snowfall, maybe in February.”

“Oh, okay.  I was going to write a post about how you are my biggest fan but you never read my blog.  I guess it still counts if you just looked at the pictures.”

“Yeah, I like them.  I also really liked how you handled those ‘whack-a-doos’ on that discussion thread though.  They were wicked and condescending to you but you held your own and you held the higher ground!  And you told them too!  That was some funny shit!”

So dealing with the nightmare of the Comment Section aside (that may be a separate post — seriously, communication is whirling down the toilet because we can’t have respectful, intelligent discussions online) you may be asking why my husband doesn’t read my blog.  You may be thinking that he is kind of mean for not supporting me by logging in religiously and then patting me on the back every time I post something, or for not jumping in and helping me fight crazy whack jobs online.   The opposite is actually true.  He is so supportive of me that he stays out of my business — out of my blog — and lets me do my thing.  And that is the best way for him to be a fan.

When I first mentioned that I wanted to blog I was worried how he would react.  I was more afraid that he just wouldn’t care.  Instead he told me that I have talent and that I should do what makes me happy.  When I started writing stories featuring him, I wondered if he might get insulted because I was making fun of how crazy our family can act.  Hey, the truth is pretty damn funny.  I was even more worried that he might become a bit of a back seat driver, always asking me why I had chosen to write something a certain way instead of how he had imagined that I should have written the story.  Or he might feel obligated to always read and love every bit of shit that I produced, even the especially shitty stuff.  Let’s face it folks, this is no Hemingway.  In all, I was scared that my blog might make us both feel encumbered by obligations to be a certain way to each other instead of just being ourselves.  But, honesty won the day!  I told him I did not need constant reassurance; he told me he probably wouldn’t read the blog every day.  And he has given me the best advice about my writing that I could EVER ask of anyone.

Two weeks into my blogging he asked, “Have you made any money yet?”  And I said “No honey, it really doesn’t work that way.  On WordPress I don’t get to make money, and I have like, ten people reading my blog right now, so I practically don’t exist.”

A month went by and he asked “When can you make money for your writing?”  And I laughed, “I wish I could make money for this!  Remember what I told you?”

“Yes,” he grumbled, “but you really should get paid for what you write.”

See why he is my Number One Fan? While I was being eaten alive by the mountain lion lovers (kind of ironic because I had a feeling most of them were vegan) he was the only one who was out there wanting to stick up for me, but he held back because it was my battle.  I told him today that I learned an important lesson, which I should have remembered anyway.  No matter how neutral you try to be, you can’t post in a Comment Section and expect NOT to be attacked by a hypocrite.  Even when you are not looking for a fight, when you are only trying to state an idea or support something you believe, you WILL be attacked on a personal level.  You will be cruelly judged by strangers, and it doesn’t matter what you say to defend yourself.  Any further comments made in defense of yourself will only make the attacks worse.  You just have to expect it in this day and age.

“But, I also learned this today;” I told my husband as we left a tip on the table before exiting the restaurant, “I don’t have to explain myself to anyone, especially not to total strangers in some random Comment Section.  If I know who I am, that is good enough!”

Remember that people.

— G

World Traveler

Me Playing Mandolin

Happy trails to you, wherever you may go!

An unexpected perk of having a blog on WordPress is the feeling of excitement from seeing different countries highlighted on the status page when a viewer outside the U.S. has been reading my posts.  As a soldier I  claimed bragging rights as a world traveler because my flights to and from the Middle East landed for layovers in places such as Scotland (go Ross Clan!), Ireland (yum, Guinness), and Germany (Guten tag, chocolate!).  That counts as “visiting” right?  Anyway, now my blog is doing the traveling for me and I can happily add Canada (although I was there for Spring Break once — long story), Italy (thanks to a high school friend who is having a blast there now), and Japan (my current dream PCS destination)!  Who knows where this writing will take me tomorrow…

Thanks for reading,

— G

Later that day: add Poland to the list!  Dziekuje!

Hello World!

How fitting that I officially begin this journey on my 32nd birthday!  I woke up feeling especially adventurous today, which is good because I still have no idea what I am doing or even if this blog is actually on the Internet.  I keep feeling like I am Creed in that episode of ‘The Office‘ when Ryan just gives him a Word folder to save all his random thoughts into so no one ever sees anything!  I am just so happy I can revise things over and over!  Yesterday when I was working on my About Page I accidentally added a link to an End Times site, and while that is hilarious, it isn’t quite the right kind of attention I want to draw.

If someone had told me two years ago that I would be starting a blog, I would never have believed it.  Why?  Well, first of all, I am horrible when it comes to computer technology.  I can type just fine, I can turn on my computer, and I can usually shop online successfully as long as no complicated processes are involved.  Sad, isn’t it?  This blog will be a learning experience (or a lesson in pain).  Second, I can be very shy and I am not in the loop when it comes to social networking.  While a lot of people really embrace technology, I tend to run screaming from technology into whatever wilderness is nearest to me.  Again, I will have to learn to use these social networking tools, or die trying, right?

Third and finally, as I began to research blogging and form a plan for how I wanted my blog to look and operate, I began to also doubt my natural abilities.  I started to wonder if I would be taking too great a risk.  I mean, blogging sounds too good to be true, way too easy, and there has to be a catch!  What if I fail at my goal to create this space for sharing my stories and adventures?  Would it just be easier to not start a blog and pretend I never considered it and became really excited about the idea?

Then I remembered something that my sister told me: “You are freaking awesome!  You need to do it”  And besides being awesome, I am also kind of adorable, so maybe this will turn out to be okay.  Also, I have realized that I don’t have to be perfect.   I know that I will never be the best out there, I will probably never present the most up to date information (although I will try), I will not know how to do everything immediately, and it will take time for me to learn how to be a great blogger.  But I will get there because I always reach my destination.  So if anyone really is reading this, I hope that you come back and visit again and see what I’ve been up to — I promise that you will not be disappointed.  I am a mischievous little shit.