Thursday, August 31, 2006

Posting Pictures and other ways we strip ourselves naked for the world to see...

The online world...

It's this whole amazing place where you can be whoever you want, where you can create a persona for yourself from scratch if you so desire--choose a new name, a new identity, a new voice that is completely different from the one you use in the everyday real world. And in turn we on the other end conjure up a face to go with the persona, a build, a bodytype, a smile, a voice.

Of all the members of my writers' groups, I've seen pictures of a whole 3 of them (of course, I think they're actual pictures, but who's to say that everyone out there isn't splicing in and doctoring up the details?) How weird is it when you see that picture for the first time? When you can finally put a face with a name that has been talking to you for the last however-many years?

I didn't want to put my picture on my website AT ALL. I like my online anonymity. Once your face is out there, it's out there, in all its flawed reality, and you can't pretend you have perfect skin or a perfect figure or long flowing dark hair that looks perfect everyday.

What do you think? Do you like being able to put a face with a name? Does it change your perception of the person, the author, you thought you knew? How close are you in matching the real face with the one you created for that person in your head?

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Revisiting my babies

So in the name of good old procrastination the other day, I started going through old files saved on my computer. Amazing what things we (OK, I) leave out there over time. I came across about 5 versions of the first novel I ever attempted, about 4 years ago. Started reading...

And I thought, wow, some of this is really bad. And some of it isn't too bad at all. And I fell in love with a couple of my characters again, enough to want to see them have a real story to live in. Believe it or not, I'm actually brainstorming ways to fix the plot ('cause it's really the plot that needs fixing more than the characters or the voice, even. How on earth did I think I was going to write a romance with zero conflict?). Now, I'm really supposed to be finishing up a final edit on my latest WIP, but I've been in a rut lately. I figured maybe revisiting this old piece will rev up my creative juices. That's what I'm hoping, anyway. Either that or I'm just avoiding looking at my WIP for the thousandth time and trying to see it with fresh eyes.

Ugh. Revising is so hard...

Monday, August 28, 2006

Adolescents on the 'Net

Today was my first day back in the classroom, and I had my new students read an essay titled "What Adolescents Lose by Growing up in Cyberspace." It was all about how teens (and adults, really) spend so much time online--shopping, surfing, socializing--that social interaction in our society has decreased significantly over the last 10-15 years.

I asked them to read and then to respond. I really wanted to know what they thought. I figured most of them would disagree, since the Internet is really where they socialize and develop their identities and meet people and make plans and fight and make up and...

Out of 32 students, 2 disagreed with the article. The rest agreed whole-heartedly and, really, it was almost sad to see how aware they are of the social and person-to-person skills they know they do not have. The Internet gives us so much in terms of resources. But what has it taken away?

Sunday, August 27, 2006


OK, this blog doesn't really have anything to do with writing, but in our Sunday paper today there is a huge article about how "KidWorld" has taken over adult world. That is, kids and their sports activities are the focus of every family's life, in a way that didn't exist 10 or 20 years ago. This, of course, doesn't surprise me, as everywhere you turn you will see 3 year olds on the soccer field or moms and dads coaching on the sidelines or minivans racing down the road in an effort to get to the next game on the schedule.

Sports--heck, any kind of organized activity--is great for kids. Don't get me wrong. They learn all kinds of things about life and cooperation and hard work and goals and dealing with victory and failure. But at what point does it become too much? According to this article, the majority of families have sacrificed any adult time to be with their kids on the playing field rather than taking an afternoon to read an adult book or a Friday night to go to dinner with a spouse or, God forbid, a Sunday morning to go to church together.

What concerns me is that, as a teacher, I see the negative effects of KidWorld way too often. My students have been told, and shown, that they are the center of their parents' world, since the day they were born. Their events, and really, their wants and needs, are more important than Mom's or Dad's. Here's the problem with that: they begin to think that their wants and needs are more important than anyone else's in every other arena, too.

Newsflash: this isn't really preparing kids for the adult world. Once they leave the cozy nest of home, their employers or college professors aren't going to buy into the whole notion of the world-revolving-around-Johnny.

And what then?