Monday, September 19, 2011

Monday Reruns: It's All in the Practice

(original post-date: September 22, 2010)

I posted my very first blog on September 22, 2009, which makes today my “blogoversary.” And today, one year after entering the ‘sphere, I am more than pleasantly surprised. In addition to finding a community and being incredibly humbled by the writing of others, I’ve realized that there is tremendous personal value in this process.

I believe it has made me a better writer.

In his insightful book, Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell wrote of the often unplanned criteria that lead to success. Among that criteria? 10,000 hours of practice. (As he pointed out, it’s what the Beatles ultimately got from all the time they spent in Hamburg.)

I understand Gladwell’s point when I read my own work. Before publishing my novel, The Somebody Who, I must have read that manuscript 40 times. I edited and re-edited and then edited again. And I was quite sure, when I signed off on its “done-ness,” that it was as good as it could possibly be.

… Now, though? I see things (minor things/word things) I’d like to change.

Was it something I missed? Nope. It’s just something I’ve learned.

The same is true for my blog postings. When I read my earlier posts, I occasionally wince at a phrase I wrote. But I don’t wince because I missed an edit in the moment; I’ve simply become a finer technician.

I’m growing. I’m getting my practice. And I’m loving every minute of it.

I don’t have a timeclock by my side. For all I know, I hit the 10,000-hour mark a few years ago. (Or maybe it’s six years away.) Doesn’t matter, though. The more I write, the more I am able to write well. And I appreciate blogging because I no longer write in a vacuum. The words actually go out there. And somebody – often a few somebodies – actually read them.

Beginning this coming Monday (September 27th), I am introducing a new feature to my site: Monday Re-runs. I am doing this because, in addition to growing as a writer, I have learned something as a reader. From having followed the blogs of others, I’ve realized that – no matter how much I love a person’s voice, style, or content – I am unlikely to back up by more than a few posts. And so… I certainly don’t expect my new readers to back up too much.

My Monday re-runs will bring the backing-up to you.

(And I won’t edit them, either. Even though I know I’ll be tempted!)

I realize it isn’t Monday yet, but it’s still my blogoversary. And what better way to celebrate (i.e., reflect) than to repost the first essay of this experiment. It follows below. You may glean some negativity. Some ‘tude. And if you do, you’ll not be wrong. Perhaps I haven’t only grown as a writer during the past year. Perhaps I’ve also grown as a person. I’m cool with that.

Drinking the Virtual Kool-Aid
(originally posted, Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2009)

A few months ago, Kevin Spacey was a guest on Letterman. Several minutes into the dialogue, Dave asked the actor if he “did the twitter.”

From watching Letterman’s show fairly regularly, I have gleaned that Dave is adverse to online social networking, and while there’s curiosity behind his questioning, he’s not likely to change his attitude. Perhaps, when he asks a question about twittering, he’s looking for someone to explain – in terms he can genuinely understand – why everyone is so engaged in this new tweeting-and-following phenomenon. Perhaps he just likes to initiate a dialogue that will afford him several opportunities to look bemused and perplexed.

Spacey’s answer did, in fact, lead to some classic quipping from Letterman, and that amused me. But what stayed with me – and what has motivated me – was how the actor introduced his response. I am not claiming to quote him directly (though it’s possible I’ve remembered it verbatim); regardless, Spacey said this: “Yeah, I was resistant for a long time, but my business partner told me I had to, so I drank the Kool-Aid.”

…He drank the Kool-Aid.

What an interesting metaphor. Sadly, it began in 1978, when hundreds of people committed suicide together. And from that day in Jonestown, it has become the catch-phrase for buying into a perspective and agreeing to embark on the path of whatever individual(s) or dynamic(s) are leading that perspective. And you have to believe, when someone uses the metaphor, that there’s something rather negative underlying the choice of words. When someone says that they “drank the Kool-aid,” you can’t help but believe that they were led kicking and screaming to the trough.

But I am so grateful for Kevin Spacey’s use of the metaphor. I am grateful because I relate to it. I don’t want to participate in the world of online social networking. I find it inherently impersonal, often narcissistic, and completely overloaded.

On the other hand, I have to face the reality of today: people spend more time online than they do offline. They get their news, their views, and their “bemuse” from whatever they can type into their search engine. So…

I’m approaching the trough, and my intention is to return to it about once a week.

I don’t have a plan (and I’m not sure I’ll ever have one). I’m just going to write and share. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll find folks who want to know about the other things I’ve written.

If you don’t know my work, something that relates remarkably to this premiere entry is my Amazon Short, “Too Many Machines.” For a mere forty-nine cents (yes, I spelled that out because it’s so damned quaint as prices go), you can download a copy of a Seussian poem that I wrote in 1987. Once you’ve read it, you’ll understand why I’ve resisted this marketing vehicle for such a long time.

Feel free to let me know what you think.

More to come,
Katie Gates

A little 9/22/10 PS: As some of you know, "Too Many Machines" is something you can read right here on my blog. Amazon Shorts became a thing-of-the-past earlier this calendar year, which is why I reposted the piece on this site.

9 comments:

E.R. King said...

Your blogversary? I have months before I hit my first one. Congrats!

I like that you're recycling older posts. It will feel as if I've been following you for years!

jenniferpickrell said...

Looking forward to more Monday Re-Runs - great idea!

Melissa Sarno said...

Yay Monday re-runs! I've gained so much from blogging and it's helped my writing skills tremendously.

Cheryl said...

You're almost there once again. When I look back at my earliest stuff, I cringe and shudder. I had no clue what I was doing. The longer I do this, the more my focus changes.

Ms Saba (aka Teacher007.5) said...

Happy Blogoversary!!!!!!!!

Samantha Vérant said...

Happy blogoversary! I haven't read Outliers...yet. It's on the list. As for social networking, like Kevin I guess I drank the kool-aid, too. Love the re-run idea!

elizabethanne said...

Happy upcoming blogiversary! And thank you for both these re-runs. Great idea to get people reading the gems you've already written, to have re-run Mondays.

Although I've been blogging for several years, my writer blog is only a year old, and a lot of the more personal posts have now been hidden. I can readily see how I have developed as a blogger and a writer over the years, though. It's been good.

Martha Mawson said...

I am so glad you started blogging. I love your writing and feel that there are parts of you I didn't know before you started blogging (how that is possible, I don't know). I love adore your blogs and to have two a week is just such a joy. Happy blogoversary!

Shannon said...

I'm so glad you shared this. I just started my blog, largely as a way to force myself to write and keep up with things now that I'm out of grad school. I hope that through time blogging helps my writing, and helps me find my voice. I'm glad to hear you think it has helped yours!