I haven't always been a rod wielding, pain inflicting pedagogue, you know.
Not so many years ago (okay, it was 1995, shut up), I had the rod pointed in my own face, was accused of having no direction, no attention span, no motivation, and no ability to sit still and shut the fuck up long enough to allow some knowledge to seep into the bored-looking thing that sat between my shoulders with all the stupid piercings hanging off of it. I was a budding 18 year old whose sole outlet for creativity and brain power was to find a way to convince a certain bass player to take my virginity or to bribe anyone of age into buying me some Boones at 7-11. I spent my time in smoke shops wishing I could afford another cool glass blown pipe and more meaningless bumper stickers for my beat up Chrysler. I loitered around coffee shops pretending I was studying and not scoping out anything that looked like it might have had a penis attached to it. Happiness, for me, was a Jimmy Eat World show, a new Jerky Boys tape, ditching Chemistry class, and scheming a way to sneak to California for the weekend to take acid.
I didn't write, I didn't sing, I didn't play music, I didn't dance, I didn't paint. I sure as shit didn't study.
My only motivation for going to college was to locomote after my beloved bass player like a pathetic caboose and it was no surprise that he soon realized I had nothing whatsoever to contribute to any conversation or creative process and duly told me to go play in traffic.
If I were to look back on journals written during that time, I would likely find the flying brain chunks that were the residuals of a self-conscious, immature pre-adult obsessed with any boy that would make eye contact with her for longer than five seconds. The entries would have no point to them, no overarching theme and they would likely have the literary value of the wall in the toilet stall of the girls' restroom near the freshman lockers.
When I started reading Tiffany's blog, this is precisely what I expected to find. How on earth was I going to relate to this teen that whines about her braces and how her senior year is coming to an end and how she will have to say goodbye to the drama club?
But Tiffany, unlike my 18 year old counterpart, is a writer, and she knows it.
To be fair, and to bludgeon all of my pupils with the same instructional force independent of age, Tiffany does have some work to do when it comes to her blog, that is not entirely centered around aging ten years. I won't lie-- as far as my interest goes, that does have something to do with my willingness to become an avid reader, and I think it's only fair to tell the readers of ASK what they can expect. Let's face it – the repertoire from which Tiffany draws experiences to post about is limited. She herself admits that the lowest point in her life has been having chicken pox. But I don't believe she can't be a wonderful writer just because she hasn't experienced enough.
The problem with Tiffany is that she sometimes loses sight that her blog should NOT be an online journal. If she's truly in this for the writing, her blog should be a place where a greater proportion of the posts are as well thought out as all of her scholarship application essays and her short stories. On an online journal, it is acceptable to have posts dedicated to updating your readership a la letters to Grandma, and it is also acceptable to write 'LOL' excessively (I guess). On the blog of a writer, it is not acceptable. The blog is the writing outlet, my dear, not the outlet for the writer to post updates about the ho-hum details of her life, whose true writing is located elsewhere. Tiff usually gets this, but I want her to remind herself of this each time she posts.
In general, her entries stick to the point and are decently written (with the exception of a few I/me problems). She's funny, and thoughtful, and willing to accept and talk about her weaknesses which I find thoroughly inspiring. She's naive, but not despicably so. Tiff has some kind of fiery electricity exuding from her personality that I totally dig on which she has managed to transmit through her writing and that has desperately made me wish I could go back to being 18 so that I could be best friends with her and learn from her ability to focus on what will be a source of happiness in her life-- her centered creativity and the development of her voice.
Tiff, it's time to fine tune things. You know how to paint a picture with broad strokes with a synthetic paintbrush in earth tones, and you do it well, essentially telling the reader what happened to you. Now it's time to start going back over your posts before you publish them with tiny, colorful brush strokes and paint in the split ends, the moles on the back of your characters' necks, the rust stains, the subtleties that will make your readers live the moment with you, as opposed to hearing you relay it. It is rarely the actual events described in a piece that strike a reader; it is the writer's capacity to take the reader on a ride somewhere they have never been and see the world through someone else's eyes that really counts.
As to the design, it's alright, although I hate headers on principle that have the word 'blog' in them and I don't get the water bottle thing. Maybe she explained it back when she was doing the font colors and center aligned text thing but since that was making me want to head butt my computer screen in an epileptic fit, I couldn't dig much further in to look for explanations. I'm glad she grew out of that phase, by the way. She desperately needs to create tabs across the top underneath the header to contain all the madness that is currently polluting her sidebar, and to include a complete about me page (the paragraph she has proclaiming herself as a novelist is not enough – which, by the way, I hope she's aware of the kind of literary expectations this creates). I also recommend that she collect some of her best stuff, the material she is the most proud of and create a tab for it, to reel in some potential readers.
For now you get two stars. I was tempted to give you an additional star based on pure cuteness and potential alone, but I want you to earn a better score. I'm adding you to my reader. Because I really think I can fucking love you someday.
P.S. Tiff - I love that you put 'willing to learn' with a smiley face on a job application where it asked for relevant experience. That kicks ass and if I were the one hiring you would get the job.