Monday, April 19, 2010

Avocational Singer -- MIA

Dear Friends of my blog,

Anyone paying attention may have noticed that this blog disappeared suddenly and without a word.

I am very sorry if anyone who enjoyed reading my ramblings was puzzled by this.

It's very hard to explain what happened, but I had a little "blog crisis" moment.

This whole thing may best be explained by telling a little story.

When I was in fifth grade, a weird writing incident happened which may have something to do with why I became suddenly hesitant about continuing my blog.

We were given an assignment to write a paragraph or two using a topic sentence.  The teacher had provided five topic sentences to choose from, and as I sat down in the evening to approach the assignment, I found myself completely uninspired by any of the topics. I decided to choose the topic, "Why I Like Stamp Collecting." I thought that this would be quite a creative challenge and lots of fun for me because, being that I did not collect stamps at all, I would have to be extremely creative to make up what I wanted to say about it.  I would have to imagine myself a stamp collector and imagine what that would feel like and write about it.

Up until this point in my life, I had been engaging in creative writing like this in order to make my homework more fun and interesting for a long time.  And for a long time up to this point, I had considered my creative writing a special experience between me and my teacher.  In second and third grades, when we had been given a list of ten words to use in ten sentences, for example, I amused myself by  making a little story out of the ten sentences.  These writing amusements of mine were for the teachers' eyes only. I do not recall any of my teachers every saying anything to me about it.  They usually handed back the assignments with the grade: a 10 out of 10, or a big check-mark that indicated I had completed the assignment.  So, whether the teacher was sitting there smiling as she read my little story and thinking of how clever her student was, or if she didn't even notice there was a story there at all,  I really do not know.  I remember being aware that I was "performing" and that there was someone, the teacher, on the receiving end of that performance, and that in some way I was providing the teacher with a little gift.  A little gift to amuse her, perhaps.  Although no word was ever exchanged about it, it made me feel connected to the teacher in an odd little way.

So, having been writing creatively like this for the teacher in my school assignments, this little essay about "Why I Like Stamp Collecting" in fifth grade was to me, just more of the same.

However, when I got to school the next day, the fifth grade teacher announced that we were going to read our essays aloud to the class.  I began to panic, my palms getting hot and sweaty.  "No!" I thought.  "Had I known about this I surely would have picked another topic and written something entirely different.  I would have written something much more safe."

She called on me to go first.  I clammed up. I was almost crying.  I told her I just could not read my paragraphs aloud.

"All right," the teacher said kindly, "someone else can go first."

After a couple of students finished reading their essays, the teacher, most likely expecting that I would be more relaxed knowing that the other students were in the same boat and had read their paragraphs, returned to me and asked me to read mine.  I absolutely refused.

The entire class began to argue with me.  "Mine is stupid too," they exclaimed.  Pretty soon they started to become angry with me as I refused to give in.  Persuasive arguments turned to jeers and even threats.  One boy, a very popular and smart boy, snatched the paper out of my hands and began to read out loud in a singsong voice:

"Why .. I ... Like ... Stamp ... Collecting."

In a state of confused horror, I jumped from my desk, grabbed the paper from his hands, crumpled it into a ball and threw it out the window from the third floor of the school building.

Well, there's a lot more after that ... about how the whole class got punished and had to pay back the time we had lost arguing over my paragraphs.  About how everyone thought I was so weird and glowered at me when they were doing the chores to pay back the lost class time.  It is a horrible memory for me.

Something like this happened with me and my blog.  It was being more and more widely read, and getting more and more hits.  One day, something happened to make it real for me that someone out there was actually reading what I had to say.  Just like in fifth grade, when this realization took hold, I panicked, crumpled my blog up into a wad and threw it out the window.

This time, however, unlike the lost "Why I Like Stamp Collecting" Essay, I have, after several weeks of reflection, gone down to the schoolyard, found the crumpled blog, carefully unfolded the paper and put it back up.

I have decided to try to work through this "issue" and continue with this blog.

Thank you to anyone who has been reading my scribblings and scrawling up until now.  There may be some ups and downs as I work through having a "voice" in this blog of mine, and I may not be posting frequently for a while, but I've at least put what I've done so far back up for anyone to find and read.


  1. Corraggio! Despite the hurdles you may face, I truly believe that you have something important to say and something of value to give to the world when you blog about your journey as an avocational singer. You writings contain wisdom and a spirit of inquiry, balanced by a sense of humility.

    Remember how I once mentioned that, as avocational singers, I feel like we exist in a kind of purgatory? I have always felt that this blog was a refuge and safe space for singers like us to come together and exchange our ideas and experiences as we travel our artistic path as avocational singers, with the unique challenges it presents.

    I admit that I am glad and relieved that you've restored your old blog posts. I had been reading through the older entries - they are a source of inspiration and motivation - and when they disappeared I was a bit crestfallen! I'm glad your blog is back, though. Whatever direction you decide to take your blog in the future, you have my support!

  2. Thank you very much Blue Yonder! That kind of in-between existence of the serious amateur is the very reason I wanted to make this blog, and that's why I put it back up again too.

    This is one of those growing moments of life, and I'm sure it will produce the fruit it is meant to and I'll get back blabbering again soon.

  3. Glad you're back! I just found your blog now, but it's always fun to have more singers to read, reference, and chat with about singing.

    I actually cross-publish my blog to facebook as well, since I primarily use facebook as a performer. It's always interesting to me when someone new remarks, whether electronically or in real life, that they like reading my blog- I do a quick doubletake, honestly. Half the time my mental response is a slight incredulity- "why would you want to read that weird stuff??" But I can't complain! If they come back, they must find it interesting somehow!

  4. Hi, Steven,
    I'm glad you came over to check out my blog. I had been reading yours already (think I found it through technorati), for some of the same reasons you mention above. Each singer has his/her own insights that are always so valuable to read. I've enjoyed following your progress and insights there.

  5. I sympathize with your story about writing. Especially when something you've written, which is close to your heart, is subjected to the criticizing eyes of the public, one tends to feel so vulnerable and open to attack. I think that's the same way with singing, too. You put all this effort into something and expect to get good reviews for it simply on effort. when people laugh at your attempts, it really hurts.

    I'm glad you decided to put your blog up again, though. As others have said before me, the insight you've provided for us avocational singers is truly something to be treasured.
    Keep up the great work in all you do!
    Cheers and many blessins!

  6. Iris, Thanks for your comments. You're right about the vulnerability of writing a blog being like singing, but I didn't experience it at first. Writing seemed "safer" somehow because there wasn't a live audience. Now I know better. Whenever you put yourself out there in any way, no matter how safe you think you are being, there is always a scary element. Every singer has to contend with it, and, I'm discovering, writers do too! And now it seems that having to contend with it ends up being a personal growth journey.