The McManual

Blogging my little heart out in poetry and prose.

Tag: on reading

11/30 – NaBloPoMo09 I’m still learning about tags…


Hi All.

First, let me say that I don’t know if I’m going to do very well with the National Blog Posting Month in the next several days – I will be up North, and the internet connection is questionable.  So we’ll see.  Try not to cry if I don’t post for a few days.

But I wanted to write because I was just looking around at the wonders of wordpress.  I followed a link back to ‘humor’ because that is how one reader got to my page today, and while I was just looking around there, I noticed that some of the tags people put on their writing are quite odd.

In one blog, it was tagged with the following: “Just Plain Strange, humour, 80s frat party movies, batchin’ it, anal bleaching, male brazilians, lively dinner conversation, yo-yo management and small children, anal botox“.  I don’t want to put these things in my blog, but it’s an illustration.  Are there people out there entering in things like ‘lively dinner conversation’ as a search?  This is not to make fun.  THis is an honest question.

Are tags meant to be something that people can and conceivably would search for?  Or, in the case of this blog, which I didn’t read, are tags more of a warning not to bother?  I know that wouldn’t be the intention of this blogger, but that’s the function that tags served in this instance, and that I’m sure they will serve again, at least for me. What do other bloggers think?  Do you tag with phrases that won’t be searched for?  Am I missing the point somehow?  Please comment if you have thoughts on this – I promise to read at least 5 of your posts if you comment. (That’s my standard practice, anyway… 🙂  )

Another question I have is whether people put in unrelated tags just to get the hits – like, if you are a blogger, do you put in something provocative and popular and then hope people read anyway, despite their disappointment?  I’m sure that tagging up this blog with Michael Jackson and slang names of body parts would do wonders for my stats, but I would rather believe that people are actually reading…  Or I suppose I could try my hand at writing about the things that are more popular in this world rather than my own random thoughts.  But no, I wouldn’t want to disappoint my loyal readers, whoever you are.

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2/30 – NaBloPoMo09


What is it about writing that is so gratifying and so frightening at the same time?  I have been keeping a journal – off and on – since I was about 20.  Alot of my early independent writing was done when I was in high school, in the form of notes that I never passed on to my friends.  I still have a pile of them, and they clearly reveal that I was a teenager in the 1980’s. ‘Like, gag me with a spoon.’ (shudder.)

When I was 20, maybe it was on my birthday, I went to CityCenter with a guy friend who later was my boyfriend for two days before we realized that we were not really interested in each other.  We are still friends, though, through chance meet ups around town and the occasional facebook note.  Cyber friends, I guess.  The journal I bought was bright yellow and blue with repeating prints of an Andy Warhol rendition of cows.  I especially loved that it was unlined.  I filled that journal up completely.

Since then, I have probably started 10 or 12 other journals, and brought them to varying degrees of completion.  I find it interesting how much I have changed in the time since the first journal.  Of course it has been 18 years, but it’s a lot of change, to my way of thinking.

I used to be mortified if anyone read any of my work.  Now I’ve written a (n unpublished…) novel, I have a little website, I make comments on Facebook, and I blog for all the world to see, should they care to take a gander.

I’m not sure that Mortified has the capacity to convey just how shy, trembly, sick I felt if I knew someone’s eyes were scanning my very own words.  I hated it, but of course like any good passion, there was an equally strong flip side.  I desired intensely for people to have read what I had written and to receive the praise I would demurely say that I didn’t deserve.

Hence, despite wanting to crawl into the nearest hole while ‘being read’, I have shared my writing.  I wrote a few little poems for an improv show I was in during high school – I am forever thankful to my improv troupe for their reactions.  Let me set the scene for you:  We knew that we wanted to do a sketch about people in authority taking advantage of their positions – even the smallest amount of authority seems to go to some people’s heads.  I was up late one night writing, and I decided to try writing something for that sketch.  I wrote a series of short poems from different points of view – a judge, a crossing guard, scout leader….I don’t remember the details, really.

What I do remember is bringing in my poems and telling the other cast members that I had written something, but I didn’t want to read it.  They said I must.  Since I didn’t want everyone to hear, we went into the girls dressing room, they kicked out some non cast member who was in there, and they all encouraged me to read the poems aloud.  I did.  I remember that I felt my voice was not even audible, but they heard me, and then they used the poems in the show.

I think that’s when I started to realize that not only did I like writing, but that writing has a power.  There is something about the written word.  There are other forms of communication – speaking, music, video, plays and so on, but the written word, besides being essential to many other forms of communication, stands alone.

Even while everyone decries the internet and advancements in technology, it seems to me that what a lot of the internet consists of is people reading and writing.  Different forms – not a printed book, but reading and writing none the less.  I mean, here I am blogging my little heart out, and here you are reading it, so what does that tell you?

I think the fear of writing comes from an essential fear of being oneself and being rejected.  And once words are down on a page and released into the world, you really can’t take them back.  You can apoligize, you can claim that something was a typo, but it’s still out there.  And in writing.  A solid piece of evidence about how you felt or thought at a particular moment in time.

For most situations, there should really be no fear – how you felt about this or that is probably inconsequential.  But once in a while it’s important, and you have to have the sense to know when that is.  There is only one sentence I have ever written and sent out to someone that I truly regret.

It was when I was in Mexico, thoretically studying Spanish.  I received a call from a friend of mine, and she was insensed because of something my ex-boyfriend had said.  I do not have any memory of what made her upset, but at the time it made me upset, too.  I was so angry about whatever his offense had been, that I wrote him a post card.  All I said on it was, “You are such a f****** pessimist.”  And I sent it.

I’m blushing right now at the memory of that.  How very wrong.  What a rotten thing to get in the mail.  And he really was a nice person – he didn’t deserve that.  But it also illustrates the power of words.  I think it’s just that power that makes writing both gratifying and frightening.  I, for one, am going to keep on writing, even if it scares the hell out of me.

Thanks for reading.  Peace out.  Sheila

Thoughts on The Brothers Karamazov


Good morning.

I’m reading The Brothers Karamazov because one of my students is reading it.  I have made a couple of half-hearted stabs at it before, probably to the tune of one or two pages.  It didn’t seem like the kind of book that I could get in to.  Nor did it seem that anyone I know has read it; I’ve read the chapter that refers to Plato’s (?) Allegory of the Cave in a few different English classes, but I’ve never been assigned further reading than that.  I am finding it inspiring.  No, not just inspiring, awe-inspiring.

I think it’s at just the right time in my life, too.  As you know if you’ve been reading my blog, I’ve been an atheist since I was about 17.  I’m 36 now, and the eldest of 3 siblings.  Obviously we are not 3 brothers.  But close enough.  The novel deals with the fact that the siblings have very different beliefs, as far apart as being atheist to being a monk!  And it’s a very humorous book, at least so far. I’m really not that far, probably page 60 out of 800, but I have been chuckling a lot as I’ve read.

It’s the right time of my life because I feel that a few years ago I wouldn’t have been able to take characters like the Elder of the Church seriously.  Maybe I would have been able to, I don’t know since I never gave it a chance before.

I really shouldn’t be so surprised that I love TBK , since Crime and Punishment was my favorite book for a long time.  Now I think my favorite book is The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles.  At least until I finish reading TBK…maybe.

Gee.  Now I feel like I should take that whole paragraph back.  How can people even have favorite books?  I only thought of the Wind-Up Bird because it’s sitting right there in plain sight and I really did love it as I read, but I love a lot of other books, too.  They’re just out of sight, out of mind.  Oh, and not to mention Jay’s books, which are destined to be my favorites once they are done.

So maybe I should just say that I don’t have any favorite books.  I am very impressionable, and I am enjoying reading the brothers karamazov, and when I am done with that I will undoubtedly move on to another book that I love equally as well.  It doesn’t hurt anyone to be promiscuous in my literary tastes, does it?  It’s just sort of embarassing when I’ve read a book and then forget, and the next time I pick that book up it totally notices when I suddenly recognize that I’ve read it before…but that’s my problem.  🙂

Well, I think that’s all I have this morning.  I apologize if you were acrually looking for any insight into the brothers beyond the fact that I find it inspiring.  Maybe if you leave a comment with your thoughts, I’ll write more about it.  Until then, I probably won’t.  Have a warm and comfortable day.  Sheila

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