Comments, Conversations, and Coffee



By: Marilyn L. Davis

sun in a cup of coffee

“Let us make a special effort to stop communicating with each other, so we can have some conversation.” 
 Mark Twain

Communicating or Conversing through Comments?

I received an email recently that touched me. The reader said, “Reading your articles is like a great conversation. They are informative, laced with humor, insight and valuable information. I get myself a big cup of coffee to satisfy my illusion of a conversation with you, Marilyn.”

Later in the day, I got this comment from Delicia Powers, a poet at Wikinut.com. ” I admire so much Marilyn your style of writing…we are allowed to follow your stream of thoughts effortlessly. They become our own and we are comfortable, at home with feelings that flow so honestly through your mind…you put it so beautifully in one of your earlier pages…your thoughts are all connected threads unraveling…not the exact quote of your words but what remains in my mind…a marvelous story of self-discovery…thank you Marilyn, I am looking forward to reading more…”

I almost didn’t write anything that day wanting to savor the comments.

While I would like to take credit for Alice Bag’s quote, I cannot. However, it reflects how my writing is transforming.

“…I became obsessed with following the threads of my memories, one leading to another. I start pulling on a single, seemingly trivial strand, only to discover it is attached to a longer strand; that one in turn is attached to an even bigger one. Sometimes, I find I have tugged a whole, hidden tapestry of my past into view, one thread at a time.”

Delicia has an excellent point in that my connected threads are unraveling. Learning about writing as I am means that there’s a new style emerging. I am discovering a completely new types of writing – the personal essay and memoir.

The “I’m narrating the experience and including my thoughts and feelings, the nit-picky examination of what was, what came to be, and what I’m doing with it”. No, it’s not a genre yet, but certainly an apt description of the process.

About two years ago, when I started writing about addiction and recovery on another site,  I thought that I must write long-drawn-out articles to stand out. Stand out is not exactly the right term, maybe just write more to be in the running is more accurate. After all, why should anyone read my article over all the others published that day?

In my more honest moments, I realize that writing about addiction is not like warm, fuzzy, ethereal poems or feel good narratives. These articles are about the harm done to others and ourselves. Addiction is the raw hunger that drives us to self-destruct, the complete and total disdain for not just the abstract “fellow man”, but our children, our parents, and us. In our use, we do not care about other people. Defining addiction beyond the simple fact of using drugs and alcohol, how it affects people, and how to recover are parts of my mission.

heart and ruler (2)

Lengthy is Not Necessarily Better

For a long time, I thought that the examples, underlying causes of addiction and directions to recover needed to be serious, educational, exacting and L-E-N-G-T-H-Y.

I was wrong. Some of my early efforts were tedious, pedantic and nitpicky. I preached and lectured, and I no longer want to spend my time writing lectures.

On my addiction blog, FromAddict2Advocate, I now try to leave out the unnecessary words and find the heart. I would rather give my readers the human stories that illustrate the subject of the lecture; getting to the important aspects in fewer, more straightforward words.

I can educate about addiction and recovery with the A-B-C’s; however, I believe that giving the examples of Ann, Brad, or Carl help readers relate and connect to the issues of addiction and recovery much better than Dragnet’s Joe Friday perspective, “Just the facts”. Writing non-fiction cannot just be the facts and statistics. Are facts important in non-fiction? Certainly they are; however, they must be woven into the article creating an atmosphere where the reader relates to facts and becomes emotionally engaged in them. I am understand that a few concise, well-chosen words can convey the entire concept. They form the heart of the writing, and that is what readers want.

Revealing in our Writing

In Revelatory writing, there is a point in which the writer starts out with the message of conflict, tensions, hardships and adversities and then discovers a solution. It is the written moments of personal insight, awareness, feelings, and thoughts that make non-fiction human. And in writing well, we attract readers who are interested enough in a post to grab a cup of coffee and read awhile.

Now, It Is Your Turn to Chat: Tell Me about Yourself

In truly authentic conversations, I would talk a bit and then listen to you. I would like to keep that going, writer to writer. If you will, indulge me. If you leave a comment, which I always appreciate, tell me something about yourself and your writing. I will grab my coffee and be prepared to learn. Thank you.

1. What have you discovered about yourself through your writing?
2. What motivates you to write?
3. What inspires you to write?
4. When was the last time you tried a different style of writing?
5. How much time do you study the craft of writing?
6. What writing goals have you established for you?

Oh, one more thing, I am curious if there are books, sites or articles that you recommend to help me become a better writer. I could always opt for a second cup of coffee and learn more.

Two Drops of Ink: The Home for Collaborative Writing

 

 

 
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5 comments

  1. 1. What have you discovered about yourself through your writing?

    My history is more significant to me than I realized. Adding up all – and I mean all – of the pro’s versus con’s during my lifetime provided surprising results! No, I won’t reveal those totals now…probably never.

    2. What motivates you to write?

    The challenge of accomplishment.

    3. What inspires you to write?

    Difficult to answer because I can readily write a rough draft about any person, place or thing. Of course, only three drafts out of ten would illuminate enough inspirational spark for further development. Of those three, I suspect only two, maybe just one, would totally grab me.

    4. When was the last time you tried a different style of writing?

    The typing of some words, or a particular word, occasionally provides a spark that screams for a detour into writing song lyrics. Once there, word application requires an entirely different mindset.

    5. How much time do you study the craft of writing?

    Not as much as I should? (Question mark intentional). Yeah, I know…you expected me to say “too much”.

    6. What writing goals have you established for you?

    Oh, sure, Marilyn…make the final question the most difficult!
    Only a solitary writing goal exists for me – commendations from accomplished writers. Those folks who frequent the Two Drops Inn come to mind.

    Like

    • Hi, Slug. Thanks for letting us get to know you a little better. We’re such solitary creatures, and this seemed like a good way to engage in conversations with readers and writers. I appreciate your responses, too. So, you thought the last question was the hardest? How come? She smiles and asks yet another question.

      Like

      • So…question #6 – some elaboration required, eh? A half cup refill is all you’ll need for the answer, Marilyn.

        At age 75, I recently accepted the fact that long-term goals are irrational. Oh, yes…I hear the yowls, tsk tsk’s, reprimands, textbook psycho-babble! But, you’re not in my shoes…yet! There is little, if any, future for me. That is a reality now. Do I like it? Hell, no! Fulfilling hourly goals is an achievement – woo hoo!

        No, I’m not ignorant or unaware…I’ve read half of all the positive reinforcement writing extant. I’m truthfully telling you how life looks when you become an “actual” aged person.

        I can now see that about eighteen months past I “crossed over” an invisible line that separated me from being a “senior citizen” or “old person”, to an “actual” aged person. During that period the word “goal” became meaningless.

        That is totally opposite of how I lived my life. I was always active, productive, and goal-oriented. I’ve been forced to accept I’m no longer the person that I’ve known all my life, can’t think, act, react like that person did from the age of fourteen. I’m not even recognizable as that person.

        I’ve dealt with various degree’s of difficulty throughout life, several requiring major physical, mental, emotional adjustments. However – heads-up here for you younger people – absolutely nothing in the past demanded the staggering transformation that “real” old age has forced upon me.

        If only I could iterate words that would force brains to absorb and retain critical information, the following statement would be my submission: cherish and productively utilize your current abilities and time, both will eventually diminish to zero. Goals will likewise disappear. Guaranteed.

        Yeah…the truth is often ugly! So is no goals. Sorry for the downer!

        Like

  2. 1. What have you discovered about yourself through your writing?
    A lot of buried memories finally put to rest.

    2. What motivates you to write?
    The challenge of putting my thoughts into stories.

    3. What inspires you to write?
    Reading other peoples writing and reading books.

    4. When was the last time you tried a different style of writing?
    Haven’t lately, hope to in the future

    5. How much time do you study the craft of writing?
    Minimum one hour each day. Some times in long marathon sessions.

    6. What writing goals have you established for you?
    Not to quite. Keep moving forward to become better at the craft.

    Thank you Marilyn. Another goal is to one day buy you a cup of coffee in person at your favorite coffee shop. John

    Like

    • Hi, John. I just love it when a call to action gets a response like yours! Your answers ring true. I know you do study how to be a better writer, and it shows in the attention to detail that you put in the memoir pieces you’ve contributed here.

      Like

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