Thursday, October 01, 2009

I am at home with the me, I am rooted in the me who is on this adventure.

I knew a girl in college who wore long, flowing skirts and no makeup. Her hair looked how it looked with no product or styling or coercing. If she felt like dancing she danced, if she thought something was funny she laughed loud and long (I remember that laugh still: "ha, ha, HAH!" with her head thrust back), and if she wanted to touch you she would. She'd lean in close when she talked, in your space, looking you directly in the eye. Rebecca liked people, liked getting to know them, finding out what made them tick, figuring out how their minds worked, why they did what they did. She hated shoes and clothes and artifice. She liked boys and girls in equal measure, and typically they liked her, too. They couldn't help it. She was light and direct and earthy. And she was the most present and carefree person I think I've ever know.

Rebecca made me uncomfortable while she was making me interested. She just didn't hide. She'd loop her arm through mine and snug her chin on my shoulder, smelling like patchouli and sunshine. She confronted and questioned and she just was so very much her own person. You could take her or leave her and she wouldn't mind either way.

In some ways, Hope's blog Hopenminded reminds me of Rebecca. She has that same carefree directness, that same hippy-dippy, woo-woo peace and love mentality, where they just delve and ask and explore and analyze.

Hope has, by her own admission, a darker experience. There's an edge to her lightness. Her hopefulness is hard-gained and bruised. She is honest (if maybe a little defensive?) about who she is and where she's been. She really is open and hopeful, and based on the glimpses she's given of the life she's lived, it's really a wonderful thing to see. She's chosen -- and probably has to make that choice over and over -- to live simply, peacefully, and joyfully. And for someone like me, who tends to piss and moan about every little inconvenience in her my-god-I've-had-it-damned-easy life, this mentality is really rather instructive.

Now that I've admired the hell out of Hope and appreciated her for drawing out the memory of someone admirable and slightly complicated from my past, let's move on to the nuts and bolts of blogging, shall we? Good. Because Hope needs some help.

Getting the design stuff out of the way, there are three empty tabs. Hey how about taking them down until they're actually useful? You have way too much shit in the sidebars, and you don't need two of them. Get rid of the random posts and recent comments and either stick with the tag cloud OR the categories (categories, please), not both. And your blogroll? It's not really a blogroll. Take it down until it has something in it, or better yet move it to a tab. The design is fine, but consider bumping up the size of your font -- it's way too small.

Now, the writing, which is what Hope and I (and you) care most about. She faces some marked challenges in her writing, with (apparently) little training or education. It shows. But that's ok. You hear me, Hope? That's ok. You keep at it, dammit. You love it, and there's no reason you can't do this if you work hard enough.

But yes, to be honest because that's what we do here and that's what you expect and you can take it, your writing needs some work. You don't need me to tell you there are considerable spelling and grammar and construction mistakes, but I'll do it anyway: there are. You show your rookie roots with rambling, unedited, uncrafted writing. You write because you love it, because it's cathartic for you, because you have to. That impetus is fantastic and can't be taught. What you need -- and what can be taught -- is polish. You need to keep reading good writing that speaks to you, you need to sign up for a local writing group where you can learn from more experienced writers, you need to challenge yourself with writing exercises, and you need to edit the hell out of yourself.

This post here, where you're watching people and recording? That was good (and so was this). Keep observing. Keep figuring out what makes people tick. Write often and always go back and clean up your writing, find the good bits, prune the unnecessary bits, and get to the heart, the poetry, the art of your writing. Your passion is there -- now practice.

P.S. You have a category called "I'm Fingering it all out." I kind of hope that's on purpose. You finger the hell out of life.


  1. I like it but MAN, let us post some comments! I know, you're supposed to click on the little bubble, but give us a clue. Also on the tab about her creations, construction is misspelled.

    I like the header and the layout and the post about the gate keeper was great, I would have had to hit her.

  2. So, who has a list of blogs with good writing, regardless of topic? There are groups of humor bloggers and mommy bloggers and other topic bloggers. Where is the starter blog roll of good writing?

  3. okay, nevermind. I can start with your 4 star ratings.
    Next time I'll think before comenting.

    Anyway, good critique of Hopenminded.

  4. She's not my cup of hippie tea to begin with, but it's more than that. It's rambling and every post feels like a run-on. Sometimes it goes somewhere decent, but more often than not it meanders and I find myself clicking away from the page before I get to the end.

    The post about fighting with the girl working the gate at the football game was painstaking to read. You ran into a rude, ticket-taking bitch. It happens. That post was WAY too long and had no point.

    But Calamity is right that she should continue to write, because writing skills can (and should) always be sharpened. It isn't the worst thing I've ever read, and she definitely has potential.

  5. You're a handsome devil, what's your name?

    This is me breathing...

    (God, I love that movie)

  6. Alie, thank you so much for reminding me.

    (Like I'm gonna put a bullet hole in your fuckin' forehead, and I'm gonna fuck the brain hole)

  7. Oh, thank goodness someone got it. I freaking love it. "I killed the president of Paraguay with a fork. How've you been?"

  8. The gods want you to go back home and they want you to delete someone while you're there.

    His best movie, ever. I'm sentimentally partial to The Sure Thing but this was hands down the best.

  9. I'm so glad you got to my blog. My heart pounded as I read your review. It's still pounding. I appreciate every word. I need to take a few deep breaths and come back and read it again. I sort of feel like I'm in a fog right now.

    I will be back.

  10. Loved the post you linked about observing people. I will go read more.

  11. "See you at the 'I peaked and I'm kidding myself" party!"

  12. I have to disagree with Daddy Files, I thought the football game post was pretty good...long, to be sure, but I could feel her frustration and conveying emotion like that is tricky. Like Cal said, Hope has innate talent, it just needs honing.

  13. Calamity,

    The time you spent on my blog is not wasted. It means more to me than you know that you understood me.

    I am sure I have improved much of my writing just from reading other reviews. What you see that is left to repair are all things I have just not had time to do. I had a friend start that new wordpress blog and he get so busy he never has time to help me fix it up. I knew the font was too small but he says I can't fix it on my own. Not his fault. I really am that lacking in computer/blogging set up skills. All the other points you brought up will be addressed and I hope to be able to resubmit someday and show the improvements.

    any mention of missing info and fucked up tags and too much side bar shit is so correct. I wish i either had the money to pay someone or time to fix it all myself. What takes most people 5 minutes to change takes me an hour to figure out. An hour I just never seem to find.

    Im glad the observant blogs were a good thing. They were helpful to me in many ways. I think sometimes i try to take on more than i can chew and cant slow down my thoughts, hence the run on blogs. so those kept me bound to certain rules that i needed.

    that fucking unedited work drives me bonkers. It was usually shit i started at 2 a.m. and became delerious so i just posted and walked away from it. Thanks for being patient enough to read it anyway.

    I really do want to go back to school and learn more about how I can improve my writing. Having people tell me I have even the spark of a writer, inspires me to hang on and fan it into a bond fire. I will it will just take TIME.

    and yes I meant to spell it FINGERING. Its sort of my signature.

    thank you again.

  14. Daddy Files,

    I did give a big fatty warning in the beginning of that football game post, Im glad you even gave it a go though.

    It really is a lot more than just some douche at a gate. It's bigger than that. Maybe because of my current limited skills as a writer I was unable to get that across to all readers. But its ok cause it really was intended more as me just vomitting a bad night than really entertaining or drawing in others.

  15. Mutha,

    Im sorry. I really don't understand how the comment thing is even set up. My friend has done all that. Im sure if i made the damn thing more user friendly i would have more readers.

  16. Hope,

    I liked your blog much more than I've liked a lot of blogs reviewed here.

    You get my cat's tongue-kiss seal of approval.

  17. Hey Gap,

    thanks. I dig a good puss kiss. My cat likes to lick my eye lashes if God fucking forbid i sleep past 8a.m. so I know how important a kitty kiss can be.

    Maybe someone could help me figure out how to add to my blog roll. I need direction. I have many writers to add I just dont know how.

  18. BTW, I have just barely the equivalent of a HS education. I learned to write by being beat up online by a crazy English Major. I can't recommend that path.

    I'm sure someone will help you with the less urgent details like rolls and stuff.

  19. What makes a blog like this a joy to review is not the words, really (not yet), but the intent. It was just so obvious to me that Hope wants to write, that she knows her limitations and wants to go beyond them. And I can't help but encourage that.

  20. Calamity,

    See that's cool with me cause it means my passion is showing. I am doing it right if you see I have a passion for it.

    The sad thing is my husband is an English Teacher and and excellent writer himself but doesn't have time to help me and for some reason really has shown no interest in reading my blog. I was lucky to get him to read the review last night. I think he thinks he would be too hard on me and do more harm than good.

    I love this review site, always have. Not just saying that because you didnt rip me a new asshole.

    seriously if anyone reading this can help me fix up my blog. I dont have the cash but i could make things for you if you need a sling or a hot/cold herbal pack or some kind of medicinal tincture like kava kava or chamomille or whatever else you can think of. Im up for a trade.

  21. I just had a thought. It might work or it might bomb. You could try craiglist's barter section and ask around to see if someone can lend their blogger skills in exchange for the things you offered here.

  22. This review just made me want to cuddle up with Calamity cause I love her so much.

  23. Blues, you cuddle right on up. I promise not to smell like patchouli.

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