Telling Your Story: Thoughts on NaBloPoMo (Part 2)

my story

Wow!  We are already well past the halfway mark of NaBloPoMo.  I’m so pleased to see that many of you are still hanging in there with me.

One of my kind readers asked me whether I will continue writing daily after NaBloPoMo is over at the end of the month.  I really had to think about that one.

Writing every day is a difficult proposition.  Not only are there a million distractions (all those people and tasks that make demands on our time), but once you sit down at the computer, it can be tough to come up with something interesting to write about.

More than twenty years ago, back in New York, I wrote a weekly column for a tiny community newspaper.  I remember having a hard time coming up with something worth printing every week.  And now here I am writing seven times as often!  It doesn’t seem possible.

If memory serves, much of the time I filled my column with a lot of syrupy nonsense.  One of these days I’ll pull out the boxes and share some of my clippings so you can have a good laugh (or maybe just gag).  I’m telling you, they were bad.  I would write about snow in the winter, about the leaves turning green in the spring, about the beauty of our local river.  On Father’s Day, I wrote a letter of appreciation to my dad; on Mother’s Day, I wrote a poem to my mom.  A seriously corny poem.  Schlock the likes of which you have never seen.  (I’m taking my own advice from last time by “telling on myself.”)

I wrote about stepping in goose poop.  I griped about annoying, noisy video games in restaurants.  I wrote about Murphy Brown and Beavis and Butt-Head.  I poked fun at then vice president Dan Quayle.  I poked fun at Bill Clinton playing sax on Saturday Night Live and never inhaling his puff on that joint.  I wrote about enjoying an egg salad sandwich at a family picnic in the park.

In other words, I wrote about everything and nothing.

What I didn’t yet know was that I was preparing for blogging.  This was a few years before the internet really took off; I didn’t have a computer.  When I got an idea, I scribbled notes on scrap paper or on the back of a business card or on a fast food napkin.  When I sat down to write the week’s column, I used a yellow pad and a pen.

I got the bright idea to write a column while I was working as a typesetter in the composing room of the weekly newspaper in which I would eventually be published.  (Scanners and desktop publishing hadn’t really taken off yet.)  After about a year of setting type, I noticed that a columnist from another state was mailing her work to the newspaper (without charge) in the hope of getting published in as many places as possible.  I ended up typesetting those columns.  I remember the first one was about holding a birthday party for one of her kids at a nice restaurant.  Of course, the birthday boy got sick, the other kids started acting out and pandemonium generally prevailed.  In future weeks, she continued in this vein, writing about the foibles of family life.  And as I’d typeset her column each week, I’d think “I can do that!”  Mentally, I’d do a little tap dance like Wayne Cilento playing Mike in A Chorus Line.

And just as Mike eventually got his chance the day his sister refused to go to dance class, I had mine when the columnist informed the newspaper that future columns would be provided by paid subscription only.

Today, we’re fortunate in that we can all easily share our lives and writing talents with the world.  Matt Muellenweg, the entrepreneur who created WordPress, calls this “the democratization of the Web.”

But looking back on my days as a columnist with a tiny newspaper, I remember that some weeks it seemed next to impossible to come up with anything new to say.  And yes, I must admit that there were occasional weeks when the spot reserved for my column was occupied by filler because I had drawn a blank.  Luckily for me, I had an understanding employer.

So, returning to the question I posed at the start of this post, I don’t know whether I will continue writing daily after December 1.  I had written nearly every day for a month before the beginning of NaBloPoMo, so you could say I had a head start.  But blogging daily consumes all the time I would otherwise spend on other writing projects that I don’t want to languish for too long.  Perhaps I will drop back to publishing every other day.  On the other hand, I am having entirely too much fun doing this and I might just keep plugging merrily along.  It remains to be seen.

For now, however, we still have a couple of weeks to go in NaBloPoMo.  And some days I, like the rest of you, wonder what else I can say that hasn’t already been covered.  Here are just a few ideas that I have been rolling around in my pea brain.  I hope they help to inspire many exciting new posts!

Thanksgiving is next week.

The very nature of Thanksgiving is a gold mine of blogging ideas:  Food, family, giving thanks.

  • Tell us about the earliest Thanksgiving you can remember.  What was it about that particular occasion that causes you to still remember it?
  • Write about your favorite Thanksgiving disaster.  Did the turkey turn out raw?  Was it eaten by the dog like in A Christmas Story?
  • Tell us about the most unusual place you ever ate Thanksgiving dinner or the most unusual guest who ever sat at your Thanksgiving table.
  • Tell us about the aunt/uncle/cousin who always prepared a dish for Thanksgiving that no one wanted to eat, and how you avoided hurting that person’s feelings.
  • Tell us about a family fight that occurred at Thanksgiving and how it was resolved.
  • Describe your fantasy Thanksgiving dinner.  Who would be sitting around the table and what dishes would be served?
  • In your family, do you have a tradition of enumerating specific blessings for which you give thanks?  Do you offer a special prayer?  Tell us all about it.
  • The first day of Hanukkah falls on Thanksgiving this year.  The way the lunar calendar falls, this will not happen again for more than 5,000 years.  Any special plans for celebrating both holidays together?  There’s actually a website!

Christmas is (gulp) 34 days away!

  • So, how’s the Christmas shopping coming along?  Do you buy a little all year long or are you a last-minute rusher?  Fess up!
  • Over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house we go?  Or staying close to home this year?
  • What’s the plan for kids and grandkids who have grown into adulthood?  Do you still buy all of them gifts?
  • What’s for dinner?  Do you do a turkey for Thanksgiving and a ham for Christmas?  Does serving turkey for Christmas seem like a reprise of Thanksgiving?  Or do you go for ethnic specialties or something else?  (My wife’s family has always been big on tamales.)
  • Ever think of going out to dinner for Christmas instead of cooking?  Why not?
  • Tell us about the relative who everyone can count on to tell the same story every Christmas, as if you’ve never heard it before.
  • Do you sometimes wish you could skip Christmas entirely, like the couple tried to do in Christmas with the Kranks?  What would you do instead?
  • Any tips for saving money on Christmas?  Is it necessary to break the bank every year?
  • What’s your favorite holiday cookie or candy recipe?  Please share!  (And don’t forget to tell us all about why it’s your fave.)
  • Natural tree or artificial?  Do you use a set of heirloom ornaments every year or do you buy new ones?
  • What’s your favorite Christmas song?  Does it bring back a specific memory?  Do tell!
  • Is there a particular movie that you have to see every Christmas?  I can understand Miracle on 34th Street.  But just how did ET and Home Alone become holiday movies?

Got some holiday blogging inspiration now?  Get typing!  I can’t wait to read your new posts.

Catch you on the blogroll!

Oh, and happy holidays. 🙂


NaBloPoMo November 2013

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