First anythings are unnerving. But this is far from my first post.
I feel nervous writing my first BLOG post. Facebook posts I know about. But not blog posts. I have put off making a commitment to blogging for, well, years. I began sticking a toe in the blog pond by writing longer than acceptable posts on Facebook beginning back in 2004. Back then they were mostly ignored; but I persevered because I need a venue, an audience. I needed to write and be read. I got teased. A lot.
“Who writes long stuff on Facebook? ” said my then teenage daughter thoroughly disgusted I even had a profile. But Facebook was as good a place as any to write about “stuff.” The handful of people who did read my stuff seemed fine with it. It got my relatives off the hook. And I liked the ‘likes.’ I ignored the nay-sayer(s,) mostly family.
Facebook became my practice pad as I began to enroll in writing courses both online and in person. I hadn’t written in more than twenty years–starting out in journalism in 1977, then moving into public relations to pay a Manhattan rent. I was dying to try creative writing, which in my youth, monies earned wouldn’t have paid for more than a pair of my sneakers. This new form, called Creative Nonfiction, seemed to me to be similar to the New Journalism I had left behind with my IBM Selectric so many carbon copies ago. I was excited to give it a whirl on my keyboard. My keyboard–also new.
The more I posted about my daily goings-on, the more people started following the posts, but it took years–eight, in fact–and an MFA in CNF, to boot to collect a tribe. At first, I stuck to about 200 words per post which may or may not have included a photograph. I mostly waxed purplish poetic paragraphs about the wonders of life in the country on our farm, including the “violet-tipped timothy grasses rippling” in our New Jersey hayfields. I do remember writing something about a “lollipop colored cardinal…” which I hope I deleted.
My Facebook followers are now probably a little bit tired of reading about our farm called Cedar Ridge ( hence the name of the blog) –but I hope not, because I am writing a memoir about it. There is a lot of new material I’ve written about the ups and downs of renovating an decrepit old house replete with eleven barns and thirty tangled acres of overgrowth; about my father, who originally offered to sell the place to my husband and me after he inherited it, and about Lizzie, my only child who is the fifth generation to walk barefoot on the wide, pumpkin pine floor boards of the c.1745 side of our Georgian style farm house (she’s twenty-six now–five years old when we moved in.)
I was twelve when my family first moved to Connecticut from the same farm and forty when I moved back onto it. The house and barns were mostly a wreck by then–the last relative to live there both physically unable and financially unwilling to keep it up while he had life rights to live there. But it’s not a wreck now. Far from it. It almost cost me my marriage, but more about that later. I needed that farm, I love that farm. My roots there are deep–practically to China.
Other too long posts included: stuff about our funny little white West Highland terriers, Petal, George, and Atticus Finch, all bunched up on the end of my bed every morning; falling off my horse, Elliot; my sobriety; postpartum depression with a premature infant; spousal arguments; longing for life back in New York City. Plus things my mother actually did approve of and would give me a ‘like’ for: gardening posts and descriptions about learning to plant perennials, funny things ladies in the garden club say; canoeing as a child in Canada; running wild on the farm as a kid. After all, I still need my mother’s approval. Don’t we all? Just a little?
There was much teary eyed stuff in 2010 about my daughter leaving for college and funny, loving things my parents would say to each other in the hospital during 2014, the year my father died–which coincidently was the year I started grad school. And a lot of teary stuff after Dad died, mostly about how brave Mom was–how strong for all of her three children and five Grandchildren (she didn’t approve of those, although she was secretly flattered by all the ‘likes’ the posts received.)
I pretty much just stopped crying about my dad’s death. He has been gone three full years on October 18th. No-one told me how long it would take to get over his death….if ever.The first draft of my memoir is all about that incredibly horrible passage. I call that first stab, the practice book. The horrendous first draft. Very little will make it into the next draft. The material is far too sad. Maybe some will. I don’t know.
This blog will be about the many interesting aspects of a picking up a writing life (especially in ones fifth and sixth decades) writing craft, lots of stuff about nature, birds, horses and dogs, art, gardening, rebuilding and keeping up old houses that creak in the night, mother-daughter relationships, author interviews from the Nantucket Book Festival and other sources for which I blog, sneak peeks at passages from my book-in-progress, funny stories (life at sixty-two can be pretty amusing) and posts I have decided are definitely too long for my old pal, Facebook.
So now, here it is, my first blog post. I feel a little like I am cheating on Facebook. But maybe my “friends” will be a little bit relieved. There is nowhere to hit ‘like’ even if you didn’t read it. No more guilt.
All comments here will be answered. I love to chat. And please, continue to follow me on Facebook and feel free to let me know if you like this. That’s a joke. (But not really, because I’m a writer after all, and we need approval. Don’t we?)