Archive for November, 2013


Is Blogging the New Letter Writing?

For many writers, getting started is the biggest hurdle.  It is why I like to suggest to my would-be writer friends that blogging may be an effective exercise.  I treat blogging like a first draft of an idea, and this article about the lost art of letter writing reinforces my thinking that for writers — writing of any kind — is beneficial (though may be not email).  

Of course,  there is something special about the handwritten card or note and I look forward to receiving Christmas cards in the mail as much as I love sending mine.  For day-to-day “put your thoughts into the world” writing, blogging is productive and fun.  It might function for writers as a first draft.

For my birthday, my husband surprised me with tickets to an off-Broadway show, Buyer and Cellar.  The one man play (sold out most shows) is an expansion of Barbra Streisand’s basement mall.  In her book My Passion for Design, the singer/actress describes the “mall” she built in her basement and the playwright imagined what it would be like if someone were hired to work for it.  The play is hilarious and entertaining, but it made me think about the serendipity of the creative process.  Was the playwright, Jonathan Tolins,  hanging out in Barnes and Noble when he picked up Streisand’s book and his imagination went wild?  Where do ideas come from?   Can blogging help us form ideas?  

Invention or inventio, one of the five canons of rhetoric, is the one most fascinating to me because it is something from nothing.  It seems to me that to stay alive as a thinker and a writer we need to let our imaginations run a little wild.  Letter writing of old was an activity that calmed the mind enough, perhaps to stir the creative juices.  Can blogging be the new letter writing?  

Blogging gets things off my chest so I can put them out there and see what others think (or not, and that’s OK too).  It frees me to think of the next thing or go back and develop that blog into something grander.

Where have YOUR ideas come from?  What do you do to turn on your creativity?



This is what a senator looks like

Happy First Saturday in November! I love November for lots of reasons:

For starters, pumpkin flavor is everywhere, Thanksgiving and my family will be around the table, autumn leaves are beautiful and okay, I’ll admit it:

my birthday. I’ll be 49 in 10 days and I’m really excited about it. Really. Plus, I’m going to New York to celebrate! I love New York.

Recently, I was introduced at a meeting at work and the person doing the introducing did one of those “slurring of the sounds” when the introduction got to the part where it revealed how long I’d been teaching. Why slur it?

I’m proud of my age and experience! I’ve been teaching for 25 years and I’m almost 50!

Not only is gender holding women back in this country, there is also a age bias. Is it real for men, too? You tell me; I study women. If women are to be elected to the presidency, they probably aren’t going to be twenty-five when it happens. We need to get used to aging faces.

A wise mentor recently told me that in the few years leading up to her retirement she was called (behind her back) the “menopause” dean. I thought this kind of vicious name calling ended in middle school. If we want to level the playing field for our daughters we need to confront not just gender discrimination, but age discrimination, too.

I’m happy to see these two senators on the front page of my NY Times today debating military sex assaults in the senate. It is progress, but we have to confront the nasty stereotypes and bias against women aging in our society.

Next year I’ll be 50, and I want to have a big party to celebrate it. I’m proud of it and all you aging men and women ought to be proud of your ages, too. It beats the alternative.


November 2013
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