Monday, January 01, 2007

Resolving

Suddenly I don't feel so inspired to write here. No, not suddenly. A glacier of discontent has been creeping into my fingers and brain for the last couple months. I'm not writing well any more. I mean, I don't edit, I'm not as forthwright, my words are meaningless and throw-away. It's all been in the pursuit of pure entertainment, and as such has led me to the conclusion that entertainment is my genre. I've imagined myself freelancing for magazines and periodicals, submitting humorous and cynical pieces about parenting and movie stars. I pursued positions in local papers, shouting out, loud and proud, how funny and entertaining I can be. How their circulation would rise exponentially with my words in their pages. I was full of my self-perceived potential.

Then, a couple weeks ago, I was gushing about My Goals and My Potential to my friend and her freelancing husband. As a concession to his success, I asked him what he thought of my plan. He nodded and looked thoughtful, suggesting I pick up a copy of Writers' Whatever - the magazine for freelancers. He said that's the best way for me to get my stuff out there. You know, in Good Housekeeping and stuff. That's what he said. Get my work into Good Housekeeping. I like this man, so don't get all indignant and angry for me. He's clever and fun - a good husband and father. But that's what he thought of my work. Of me. Good Housekeeping. And since then this little bug in my ear keeps whispering in this nasty teasing voice, "Good Housekeeping Good Housekeeping Good Housekeeping Good Housekeeping Good Housekeeping" as I'm typing away on my blog. So that's what it's come to. That's what I do. I write articles for Good Housekeeping and call it the Thought Concoction.

Fuck that. That's not what I signed up for. I want to write and I want to write well. No, not just well, amazingly well. That's what I want. I'm not there, and I'm not going to get there by writing prim little articles for Good Housekeeping. So at the risk of being snobby, elitist and dismissive, I just can't do this any more. I can't devote my few moments a day, here and there to Good Housekeeping. I've been thinking about this for a while and have come up with the following analogies to my blogging vs. my work-writing: speed chess vs. tournament chess, jogging on a treadmill vs. a 90-minute soccer game, wiping after a pee vs. a full pelvic exam. You get the picture. I just feel like a sell-out, pandering for snickers and LOLs. That's not who I am. I don't pander.

So, 2007, do you want to know what I'm going to do to you? I'm going to rip you a new literary asshole, that's what. I'm gonna work it. I'll be up in the gym, just a workin on my fitness. To my friends and peers out there, I'll be here and there, just not as often, and I might be a little fucked up, considering the story ideas that are floating around right now. The people in my head are strange and ignoble people.

Wish me luck.

And Happy New Year to you all. I hope 2007 brings you happiness, and I'm sorry if I've roughed him up a little. I don't like odd numbers.

26 Comments:

Anonymous Jenny said...

Pandering sucks. But Pandas are awesome.

I wish you a New Year of being true to yourself and reaching your full potential.

And pandas. Everyone loves pandas.

1/01/2007 1:01 PM  
Blogger SUEB0B said...

Good Housekeeping could use a good writer like you.

My old boss used to have a monthly gig for A Certain Women's Magazine (not GH but close) and it paid a nice bucket of money. So. When they come calling, I may just answer.

1/01/2007 3:12 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Harridan said...

GH may seem like a slap of a suggestion, but it beats the fuck out of Woman's Day.

I think anytime a woman writes about her life that includes kids, it turns into either fodder for "women's leisure" mags, or the next Erma Bombeck (not that I dislike Erma, but she has created a pigeonhole).

Happy 2007. I'm just glad you're not quitting outright! :)

1/01/2007 3:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you quit, my babies will cry. And so will I. But I can totally support a new approach, a little fucked-upedness, some breaks here and there, etc. It's a process, this writing thing. Happy New Year, my friend!


P.S. My word verification ends in "bju." As in, BJ University.

1/01/2007 3:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You've said a couple of things I think about too (but you do that all the time, you bitch). The part about the writing, and this: "The people in my head are strange and ignoble people." I told my wife last night around midnight that I resolved to submit something, for God's sake, this year, try to get something published in a halfway respectable forum. If I can help you.......

1/01/2007 3:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I enjoy your writing and I wish you luck on your resolution.

I am not a writer and I work in another field so I haven't experienced or thought about these things.

I guess I write my blog mostly to make my Granny laugh. (If I can. She's kind of stubborn and a bit stoic and old fashioned.)

1/01/2007 5:38 PM  
Blogger DebbieDoesLife said...

So, let me get this straight. Is this your way of turning into...what did you label me? A slacker?????

1/01/2007 5:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I vote for strange and ignoble people. And I agree, I don't think G.H. is your bag.

1/01/2007 6:39 PM  
Blogger Esereth said...

Wow.

God. Yeah. Wow.

New blog. NEW BLOG!! New, gritty, unabashed, ugly truthful brilliant blog!!! NOW NOW NOW.

1/01/2007 7:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can do it you can do it (insert small dancing cheerleaderlike squirrel). :)

1/01/2007 7:12 PM  
Blogger meno said...

Huh. Pandering. That's not a word i would have associated with you or this blog.
I wish you success at all you do this year. I think you should write for Mother Jones myself.

1/01/2007 8:13 PM  
Anonymous LetterB said...

Good luck! I am happy for you but sad for me if it means less TC.

1/01/2007 8:48 PM  
Anonymous wordgirl said...

Well... as they say down around these parts...SHEEE-IT! I just hate it like hell that this guy's words tipped the scales and caused you to quit blogging. Your rare viewpoint will be missed.

Despite the truth in what SueBob says about how much these fluffy "housewife mags" pay (And they do pay...even back in the day at Good Housekeeping when the great Shirley Jackson was pulling down a couple thousand for each pithy short story about being home with kids), I know exactly what a slap in the face it is to be told (especially by a man) that--in his estimation--you need to write for a rag that is famous for keeping a firm muzzle over the discontented voice of the woman who stays at home with kids.

The last time I looked, there was a HUGE difference between a woman who keeps house (maid, housewife) and a woman who stays at home with kids. Maybe I haven't been paying enough attention, but I can't recall a time when you blogged about stubborn stains or cavities. You're edgy and thoughtful and though I'd love to see GH (or anyone else) hand over a buttload of money to you, your brand of writing would cause their little wifey's magazine to burst into flame as soon as the ink hit the page.

Sure...take a break if you need to, but I've found that I write better when others hold me accountable for my words and, when I'm not getting paid, blogging has helped me immeasureable. Don't go away completely. Take this down and start over someplace else. But...don't go away all the way. You don't want Arabella's babies to cry...do you?

1/01/2007 9:13 PM  
Anonymous mamatulip said...

If anything needs a new literary asshole ripped, it's 2007, by you.

Onward.

1/01/2007 9:14 PM  
Anonymous wordgirl said...

Immeasureably. Sorry.

1/01/2007 9:15 PM  
Anonymous kathie said...

Jesus, Mignon. I hope you're not abandoning this blog. Are you thinking of writing short stories or essays? God you're passionate this morning. Channel that into your writing and you've got something.

1/02/2007 6:32 AM  
Blogger Jaye Wells said...

You're scaring me a little, but I like it.

1/02/2007 9:00 AM  
Blogger Orange said...

Good Housekeeping? Fuck, naw! You don't write the sort of stuff that appears in what I've always called married-lady magazines. Too much snark. Alas, there are very few parenting/women's magazines that have a good snark factor. I mean, look at the "women's magazines" that are out there. You've got the married-lady and parenting magazines that slant conservative and traditional—the GH reader poll has ranked evangelists like Jerry Falwell and Billy Graham as "most admired men," and Kathie Lee Gifford has made the "most admired women" list—are these people your role models, Mignon? I didn't think so.). And then you've got the fashion magazines that don't publish much targeted at women with kids.

Which is to say, holy cow, Good Housekeeping is hardly your shtick. You're funny and talented, so eventually you'll find your way into paid writing. But that literary asshole you rip us won't be in a married-lady magazine. And you know all your readers here will read anything you write, ignoble characters or not. Because we're cheapskates, and we like to sit on our lazy asses with a computer reading free stuff (as long as it's good).

I'm rambling. Hey, is there a writers group you can join, with hardcore critiquing of each other's stuff? That wouldn't be prim.

1/02/2007 12:40 PM  
Blogger Tink said...

But you're not leaving us right?

Jesus that sounded needy huh? I totally respect your dream of writing professionally. I know you can do it. And not just in Good Housekeeping. *Spit*

Happy New Year Mignon. It's GOING to be a good one!

1/02/2007 1:54 PM  
Blogger Jess Riley said...

I sincerely hope you're back here with an update from time to time...But I know exactly what you speak of, and I wish you well. I love your take on things, and you've got the talent, attitude, and ideas...publishing is waiting for a voice like yours. Good luck, and please keep in touch!

1/02/2007 8:54 PM  
Anonymous V-Grrrl said...

Hmmm, so are you devoting yourself to finding your voice or finding your media--or both?

In any case, a worthy cause. All the best.

1/03/2007 9:03 AM  
Blogger Mitzi Green said...

good housekeeping. jesus. i don't care if i was fond of him, i still woulda kicked him in the nuts.

though, it pains me to admit, he's right. not in that you are good housekeeping material, but in that no other publication seems to have much interest in "slice of life vignettes" (a term i'd like to kick in the nuts, btw).

but damn, even "reader's digest" would have been less painful...

1/03/2007 1:12 PM  
Anonymous TB said...

Getting published in any national magazine is nothing to sneeze at. Submit to Good Housekeeping, The New Yorker whatever, just do it. You will not feel good about this endeavor unless you do. And it's going to happen.

1/04/2007 6:37 AM  
Anonymous DD said...

I read your post some days ago and really could feel your pain and frustration. So I thought I'd take some time considering all this and see what thoughts might percolate.

Below - your steaming cup of fresh joe:

The most informed and important opinion of your writing is yours. That said, the conflict of true art vs. economics / popularity should be taken into account as well. This seems to be the root of tension that your acquaintance's opinion brought to the surface.

Is it "selling out" or "pandering" to intentionally direct some creativity in a direction that might open up additional future writing possibilities… or bring some additional income into your family? I'd suggest not thinking about your writing as some binary choice between "pandering" and "true to self" unbridled creativity. You can do both… and maybe leaning toward the "pays the bills" part a bit heavily now will lead you down a path where you can eventually follow your bliss nearly 100% of your writing time.

In other words: channeling some creativity toward popular / income producing now does not have to be an END, but it certainly could be a means to the end you hope for.

1/04/2007 11:16 PM  
Anonymous Nancy said...

I feel the same way about my writing lately -- it's floundering, and it's frustrating the hell out of me. But like you, I don't want to give up the blog because it's my connection to so many wonderful people.

But your writing, Mignon -- it's amazing. You have a raw energy and humor that gives you such a unique voice. Sometimes you can lay stuff out there seemingly without even trying, and it makes me gasp because it's so damn good.

You know, you could just use Good Housekeeping as your stepping stone, until you end up writing for Mother Jones or The New Yorker or some other amazing periodical. You've got a group of fans here rooting for you. With big-ass banners and everything. (Mine has a giant Hungry Nancy head).

1/07/2007 4:39 AM  
Blogger lildb said...

ignoble is one of my favorite words.

Mignon is one of my favorite people.

that is all.

1/26/2007 1:51 PM  

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