I got outed.
“Is this you following me with this blog?”
“Yes,” I confessed. I wanted to say, “no.” I’d just pushed the button on what I thought would be my blog. I thought it was good. It was not. I got caught.
My friend Kamal made me promise to write. “You need to write for real…promise?”
I didn’t know what I’d write about, but I would write. Who’d read it? Would I have to write every day? The objections flowed.
When I promised to write “for real,” I thought I’d be writing an essay or two. Simple.
“How about a blog?” he said.
“Okay, set me up.” Blogging was more than an essay or two, but why not?
“Set you up?” Kamal said. “No, you don’t need me to set you up–it’s easy…You can do it yourself…Use WordPress. Take the domain name, too. You may want to do something with it later.”
What would I possibly “do later” with a blog no one would read? “It’s easy…” he’d said.
I didn’t know what WordPress was and had never seen the back end of a blog. This was my first exposure to technology outside of the normal stuff. Blogging or writing a book was as remote as winning an Olympic gold. Famous people did these things…not me.
But… I promised.
Naming the blog was the challenge.
Naming it required me to commit, to make it real, to define who I was and what I wanted to be–not easy. Being in schools so long, I’d been institutionalized.
Then there was, as author Stephen Pressfield calls it, “resistance.” That’s when well meaning friends try to save you from the pain of your newfound insanity.
“Don’t blog about education,” said a friend. “You’ll get fired. Be careful.”
But I’d promised. I promised I would write, “for real.” So, I told this friend I wouldn’t be too radical.
I was stacking up promises to everyone but myself.
What would I name this thing? It could be GreenyGal. I’d write about vegetarian cooking, food-freak stuff and sustainability. “Sounds like you’re sea sick,” someone said.
Every time I hit upon a new name, it was, “No.”
I hear a lot of “no” in life, in education.
It used to stop me, put me in a box. Now, I treat no as more of a “not yet,” and press on. Another bad name. “No.” Another. “No.” Another. “Not yet.”
And all of a sudden I knew. I knew what to write about, and the name appeared.
“I’ll write about everything!” I’d call it Wittischism. I’d combine wit with the schisms of life.
How do you spell “schisms?” Google, click. Phew. Spelling confirmed.
Thank God for Google. I didn’t want to spell my own blog wrong.
“Is that you following my blog?” It took Kamal exactly thirty-two seconds from the time I pushed the button on WordPress to find it and fire off a text.
I’d done everything so quietly trying to make it a surprise, not realizing every computer in the world alerts every other person in the universe immediately. It’s how social networks are built.
Truth be told, I wasn’t taking initiative or trying to create a surprise. I was really avoiding another “no.”
WordPress followed Kamal’s blog, and it linked to a few other things it thought I would like–social networks are helpful like that. That’s all great, unless you’re trying to be sneaky.
“Is that me following you?…Um…yes?” I told the truth.
“You can’t use that name, it’s bad,” he said.
He told me I couldn’t choose names that are long, confusing, the public can’t spell, are non-common foreign language words, swears, or have double letters. I should also avoid the vowel “e” when naming your blog on Sunday.
Choosing a name was taking weeks. “No, no, no, no, no!”
I didn’t know it yet, but Kamal was, in fact, setting me up to write “for real.” There are lots of details involved in this stuff, and I wasn’t ready for any of them. He was letting me experience, not giving me a college lecture. That’s the proper way to learn.
I should’ve recognized the lesson. I’d studied Japanese arts for years. My sword and calligraphy teachers taught the same way–learn by experience, not by memorization and direct answers.
True learning comes when you are led to, then discover the answers on your own.
It’s how I teach, yet I didn’t recognize that I was being taught, even with the lesson two inches from my face. I wasn’t ready to understand, but I would be. This would one of those few where I look back and say, “That moment changed my life forever.”
“Listen, do it right, or don’t do it at all,” he said. I was frustrated and out of ideas. I took a break and let it be. Eventually, a few days later, the answer came.
“Yes, I like that a lot,” Kamal said. And CaféCasey was born.
That was the big lesson. Relax, let things flow. Open my mind and wait, and the answer will always appear. Keep putting one foot in front of the other, and soon, I’ve walked a mile.
Writing “for real” wasn’t just keeping a promise. It was a lesson in trust, vision, and execution. I often get stuck in my boxes. My gift was having a friend who saw this, and was willing to help me through my objections.
My only job was to say, “Yes.” Now, I help others do the same.
In a world full of yes men, it’s critical to have a friend who cares enough to say “no” when it counts. That’s gold. “No,” is often the key to opening up a whole new world of “yes.”
It turns out, “Yes” is inside of all of us… the only thing stopping me, was me.
Congratulations on a year of successfully providing insightful, fun, educational, and inspiring glimpses into your life and the world!
Thank you! The official year of writing is in mid-August. It took me that long to name this thing.
Love this! Congrats. I feel like blogging has opened up a whole new, braver me.
Agreed. I also feel that blogging has opened up a new, briefer me. That, I hope, is helpful:)
Thank you, Gino.
Kick me in the backside to push me through the entropy-well trying to suck my blog into the Dead Zone… I’m serious. Remind me that all I have to do is write. Not think. Not solve world hunger. Write.
All you have to do is write;) Pushing the button helps, too… Have you ever read Stephen King’s “On Writing?” Love that book….
I have not. I should. I’ve read Ursula Le Guin’s Steering the Craft, which I enjoyed…
Read it… what I liked about it, was that it validated the stuff I was doing–writing every day, not worrying about it so much. He has this concept of the “ideal reader.” Basically, you write as if you’re writing for who you picture your ideal reader to be. Ironically, I was taking an awful lot of my more thoughtful content from email conversations. It seemed, somehow, easier to converse with a real person than to just sit and say in the abstract, “I think I’m going to write something earth-shattering right now.” It’s always seemed inauthentic that way, but in a deeper conversation, it comes out. And later, that translates into some type of theme I can write… In the same way as it’s never difficult to write a letter or an email, writing with an “ideal reader” in mind–whether it’s a single person or a group–is something I never did writing history/research, and it’s something that, for me, made all the difference in the scope, content, and quality of my writing. I’ll look at that book…
I am a fiction writer, and also have had some success with poetry. Academic writing *almost* destroyed my love of writing. In some ways, I’m blogging as a way to “steal back” a passion that academia poisoned. I never was afraid of the written word until I began to work on my dissertation. Then my writing developed a sort of “stutter” — an anxious, self-critical editorial voice came to interrupt the creative process and derailed it (For me, at least, creation and critique need to be done separately). Writing without the internal critic is how I write when I write a letter or an e-mail (or an FB post, which is why editor-friends drive me nuts). So what you’re saying makes really good sense to me. I sense a trip to the library coming soon!
I find academic writing gives me a different voice. I can still do academic writing, legal writing, formal writing, I wax poetic every now and again… fiction’s never been believable with me…
I hope to see you enjoying the game more:)
This is beautiful.
Thank you, Kamal:)