Friday, February 06, 2004

In Which Manny Throws Me a Bone

When I started this blog, I reveled in the sheer anonymity of it. Only two people knew of its existence, and those two friends are so sweet and non-judgmental that I never had to worry about censoring myself or sounding self-indulgent and whiny. It felt good to start writing again after all these years; it was therapeutic to put my thoughts in order, editing and refining my words, and to find some space for *myself* outside of my role as mommy, daughter, friend, sister, employee, or wife. I even began to enjoy playing around with the template, using my rudimentary HTML knowledge (combined with a handy cheat sheet) to make little cosmetic changes, adding a link here and a change of color there.

Of course, it wasn't long before I had a small but nagging desire for a larger audience. I suspected that J. would get a good laugh out of my Stampin' Up entry, and I knew my dad would relate to my piece about crossword puzzles. Maybe there were even special needs moms out there that might find comfort and connection in my musings about Bug. But something kept me from going "public." Part of it was that I wanted to be able to write freely about my life and family and friends without misunderstandings or hurt feelings. For every new person who reads this I have to go through and make sure there is nothing objectionable - I wouldn't want Rabbi Rachel to see the entry about her friend and colleague Mrs. Guitar, and I would NEVER forgive myself if my dear friend C. ever came upon my snide comments about her party.

There was a larger hurdle too, and that is the sheer, naked vulnerability of putting my thoughts out there for people to judge. I have wildly ambivalent feelings on the matter. Part of me is convinced that my writing is stale, cliche-ridden, trite, clumsy and awkward. I have always had a bit of a self-esteem problem - and that's another issue. Would my friends feel differently about me if I was honest about my shortcomings as a parent, or if I revealed what a hopeless misfit I was in grade school? Writing is best when it is heartfelt and true - and I am not at all sure I am ready to broadcast that truth for all the world to see.

On the flip side, what if people read my blog and thought my writing was actually GOOD? Then I'd be back to where I was 25 years ago - people expecting me to "do something with it," which would only set me up to disappoint everyone all over again. I'm not going to do anything with it. I know my limits - I write great job postings for work, and my emails can be witty, but anything beyond that is out of my league. Even if I was good enough for something more, I couldn't take the endless cycle of hope and rejection. I have already made my peace with this - I don't need that particular Band-Aid ripped off again.

Little by little my persistent ego began to win out. I showed a few entries to Chef, and then I sent to link to J. She called me afterwards to tell me how much she enjoyed reading it, and I was so pleased and embarrassed that I could barely stammer out a response. She said she especially liked the essays about Bug, which led to a more honest talk about my feelings and challenges with him than we have ever had before. After much hesitation, I finally sent the link to my dad so he could read my crossword puzzle piece - and then of course, to be fair, I had to send it to my mom as well, who then sent it to my brother.

Next thing you know, I got an email from my personal idol, crossword constructor extraodinaire Manny Nosowsky himself! Somehow, my dad obtained his address and sent him my website - and he liked it! He really liked it! In fact, I will take the liberty of pasting my favorite part of his email here:

Cheers, and keep that blog going. Debbie and I were both admiring your writing last night - she remembers you from Beth Sholom when you were a kid.


Did you read that? The great Manny, toast of the New York Times, father of a senior editor at the prestigious Farrar, Straus and Giroux - admires MY writing! I pored over that nugget of praise every few minutes yesterday, glowing a little each time. If Manny thinks I have talent - well, maybe I *should* at least keep up my weblog regularly like he said, just to stay in shape. Giving in to the urge to brag a little, I forwarded his email to my dad, who replied:

See, everyone is impressed with your writing, like I've been telling you for the last 25 years!

Get on with it!

See you tomorrow,


Sigh. And so the cycle begins again . . .


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