On writing. Part 1

by Andie Mitchell on April 25, 2011

You know, I never set out to be a writer.

I never really liked the process- the pen, the paper, the practice of being alone in my mind. Sitting with my thoughts felt–and feels–a lot like being squished between two people on a crowded subway car. Act normal. Don’t move much. It’ll be over soon.

It’s the perfectionist in me. The personality trait that makes me want to redo, rewrite, rethink almost everything I do. Do it over. You can do better. Once more.

I have a deep desire, the most urgent need, to execute tasks and tests and life in a way I’ll later smile upon. I think about now, the present, and then I think about how I’ll think about now in the future. In ten years, in twenty, will I be proud? Can I enjoy it then? Is there enough here to tell a life story that people will want to have been a part of? That I will want to have been a part of?

Is it ever acceptable to end sentences with prepositions? Get back to me.

 

What I found, in writing, can be summed in such perfection this way: “I hate writing, but I love having written.”

That speaks to me.

That is writing, articulated.

So then, it’s a funny thing to be blogging. Sharing words and images and hoping that what I click out on a keyboard is worth reading. In one year of doing it–putting myself online–I’ve never once felt entirely comfortable.

In many ways, I just don’t know if it’s in me to ever feel that what I’m doing is enough: good enough, meaningful enough, funny enough, engaging enough. I see challenge and room for improvement and ways to grow and perFECT. It’s not all bad. It’s not all good. Likely I’ll be driven, I’ll be [somewhat] ambitious, I’ll demand excellence of myself and others. But those will come at a cost. Maybe that cost will be too steep sometimes, and I simply won’t have the cash to cover it. Or maybe one day I’ll have enough ego coins in my piggy bank to not sweat it.

With blogging, it’s good to find a niche.

How do I find that?

I ask,

What am I sharing here?

Why did I tell my mother on my last film job that I wanted to start blogging instead?

How do I justify taking off my clothes, so to speak, for thousands of people everyday and sharing the intimacy of having lived obesely for 20 years and then losing it all and living in thin for the next six? How do I describe going from size 22 to a 4/6? From apple to banana? What would it even matter? And what did I learn from it?

And, what I address over and over, and over, and over, and over (repeat three times more, please), is the root, the seed, of it all. My story, your story, anyone’s story–it doesn’t mean much when you look only at the ending.

I want to hear the beginning. You want to hear the beginning.

Don’t you?

It informs the rest of the story.

And so I write with one eye on the rear view mirror, one eye on the road. Very aware of the periphery.

 

Years ago I heard a quote,  from the movie Playing By Heart, and it’s stayed with me ever since.  It goes,

“Talking about love is like dancing about architecture.”

It means it’s impossible. It means that no matter how you try, you won’t sum well the essence of love. And while I do agree that a great many things cannot be captured alphabetically and otherwise, sometimes a person explains a feeling I have or have had in a way that just speaks to my soul. Something feels true about it. Raw and pure and exactly how I’d say it if only I’d known those words, in that order, at that time.

Being able to put words to a feeling or a thought or even a time in your life is like hearing a fragment of a song over and over in your head, forgetting which song it is or which way the words go, only certain of the da-na-na-da, and then, all of a sudden, remembering.

Relief.

Comfort.

Click here for part 2

{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Melissa April 25, 2011 at 11:07 pm

Ditto.

*grins* Writing is great. Thinking words is better. Reading it over again… sometimes can be torture. Sometimes is great too. If ever I can be as gorgeous (with or without my weight) I will be amazed by my beauty. I hope you are. Really and truly.

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Halley April 25, 2011 at 11:43 pm

Wow. Good post. I think I agree I prefer the product not the process.

high five for being awesome…

I may be the only one who enjoys high fives this much.

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Cait @ Beyond Bananas April 26, 2011 at 2:53 am

Love this post. EVERYTHING you write is good enough, funny enough… everything enough!!

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stephanie April 26, 2011 at 2:57 am

BRAVA! Well said – euhm written I mean! Love the way you think and write it down. Makes me think as well and make me think on how to find and write my own style…
Baci

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Johnny April 26, 2011 at 3:00 am

I don’t know how many people read this blog, I do believe however that those who do can’t wait for the next one! You are pure talent! After my coffee you’re next! You captivate with the beuty that resides so deep in you that you can’t help but be exceptional. I have many favorite authors that I can’t wait for the next book. You are one of those authors and we all have the very rare privalage(can’t spell!) of being able to read something new from you almost every day! You have a very natural talent so don’t fight it just put it down. I can’t wait for the next chapter!!! By the way the pics are VERY cute :)

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Lauren at Keep It Sweet April 26, 2011 at 3:31 am

This is wonderful. I love reading your blog (really reading) because you can tell that you put so much into it. The fact that you are so real and so honest speaks for itself and makes the writing better than it could be.

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chelsey @ clean eating chelsey April 26, 2011 at 4:17 am

You just taught me so much more about writing in this one single post. I love reading your blog for so many reasons – one of them being the fact that I learn so much and can take so many things away from your writing every single time I read. It’s beautiful!

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Melissa April 26, 2011 at 4:18 am

I love this, Andrea. I love every bit of it. I want to bottle the beauty and truth of this post and keep it on my shelf.

I had a writing professor in college who always said the best writing came from making the private public, from being truly honest with your reader and with *yourself.* You’re doing it here. Amazing amazing post.

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Emma @ La Vie en Ginger April 26, 2011 at 4:53 am

Hi Andrea! This is my first time commenting, but I’ve become increasingly obsessed with your blog (particularly your posts on weight loss/your relationship with food, though your recipes also leave me sheepishly hunched over a puddle of saliva on a regular basis) and just had to let you know how wonderfully brilliant your writing is. You articulate things I wouldn’t have the first clue how to put into words and make me aware of thoughts and feelings about food I never knew I had. As another blogger who puts a great deal of thought into her writing (though my blog is more or a hobby and not nearly as legit as yours) and another former fat girl learning to embrace my love of food as a thin person, so much respect from me to you. Can’t wait to read parts two and three. Keep on doin’ whatchu do!

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Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat April 26, 2011 at 6:26 am

I love this post! You have such a great writing style and I love that you’re sharing it with us. Like Chelsea mentioned above, I’ve learned a ton from reading your posts, probably more than you even realize. Thank you!

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Frieda April 26, 2011 at 6:28 am

*applause* love it! cannot say more. :)

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Liz @ Tip Top Shape April 26, 2011 at 7:05 am

You should never doubt your writing or what you post here because it is always fantastic. Yours is one of my favorite blogs and it is one of the few that I return to not only for the recipes (which are great, of course) but for the narrative, as well. Absolutely loved this and looking forward to the next installment!

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brandi April 26, 2011 at 7:26 am

i love this. can’t wait for part 2 :)

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Gina April 26, 2011 at 9:48 am

Beutifully written. Something I am learning in my yoga teacher training is that as human beings, there has been something in each of our (or most of our) lives that has triggered the “I am not good enough” or “I do not belong” feeling. This feeling is a lie. It is something to hide behind and I catch myself coming back to that feeling over and over in many different aspects of my life. I’ve learned that I have to recognize those thoughts and manage them. As time passes, it will get easier to see when this feeling comes up, recognize it, dismiss it and own my life!

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Caitlin April 26, 2011 at 10:03 am

OK…so do you realize how what YOU do here does exactly to me what you love about so many blogs books and the like??? It draws me in, seduces me (love that), makes me want to click around and explore. It makes me want to be your friend down the street who you call for coffee and chit chat. It makes me want to live inside this beautiful world that you so eloquently describe.

For me, one of the marks of a great writer is that when you read their words, you feel like you are the only person they’re speaking to – like it was meant solely for you, even if you don’t know them or they have no idea you’re reading what they’ve written.

That is EXACTLY what happens when I come here. Thank you.

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Katie P April 26, 2011 at 10:08 am

Andrea your statement about “In many ways, I just don’t know if it’s in me to ever feel that what I’m doing is enough: good enough, meaningful enough, funny enough, engaging enough. I see challenge and room for improvement and ways to grow and perFECT.” really spoke to me. I feel that so strongly in my own life. I am always trying to be good enough. A good enough daughter, girlfriend, sister, friend, co-worker and be thin enough, heathly enough, run fast enough. I struggle with feeling like what I do though it NOT enough. How do you keep the demons at bay that tell you what you are doing isn’t enough and that you aren’t good enough?
Looking forward to reading part 2.

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Bee April 26, 2011 at 10:15 am

So, you have my current dream career. I say “current” because “dream career” changes every few months or so–me being in a cooking/blogging kick right now, your job is making me green with envy and edamame. If you also did copious amounts of travel I’d be so green I’d question whether or not I was going through a reptilian metamorphasis.

My job: I am a marketing assistant for an energy company near-ish to my hometown. The company does pretty much everything energy related–from heating oil, gasoline, and air conditioning to solar electricity and pellet boilers. It’s a great family-owned company and the people are lovely. I went to school for writing/publishing, but marketing was always an interest of mine and I’m grateful for the experience!

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Bee April 26, 2011 at 10:15 am

Also that comment was meant for the post before, oops!

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Bee April 26, 2011 at 10:16 am

Probably expect another novel-long comment once I read this one too though, hah.

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Tina @ Faith Fitness Fun April 26, 2011 at 10:18 am

You should have no fear that you are anything short of an exceptional writer. In fact, out of all the blogs I read, you are by far the BEST writer of all. Or…the cat’s pajamas as you say. ;)

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Clarissa @ Sober and the City April 26, 2011 at 10:20 am

SO GOOD! I absolutely love your writing. I definitely don’t always feel comfortable when I write on my blog, but I keep telling myself sometimes it’s more for me than others! It’s a creative outlet no matter what comes out of my finger tips and I like it!

Also – love the quote “Talking about love is like dancing about architecture.” I think that’s what Leo thinks- he’s always “why do we have to talk about our relationship, let’s just enjoy it!”

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Cindy April 26, 2011 at 11:36 am

oh my gosh how I love you!

I haven’t been checking in because 1. life is crazy. 2. I have not cooked anything quality in a while because of no.1. and 3. when I don’t feel like cooking quality beautiful things it pains me to drool over here!…plus there is the No. 1 thing.

but I miss you and your great recipes and your great posts.

I also just ready your post about your job you love…and now I am jealous becasue I work 6 to 6 and it’s not nearly as amazing. Mostly filing, processing money and keeping a lot of people on track. ewww.

maybe I knit something over the week. and run.

not very romantic I say.

big big hugs!!!!

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MelissaNibbles April 26, 2011 at 12:20 pm

I love your blog. Writing is cheaper than therapy. That’s what I tell myself.

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Jo @ Jo In the Kitchen April 26, 2011 at 12:44 pm

For someone who *doesn’t like writing, you do it very well.
I hope you continue!

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Lauren@LittleYellowKitchen April 26, 2011 at 1:03 pm

Wow. This made me think a little! I like it. You put into words what I’ve tried to figure out. Why do I enjoy reading? I really do like seeing how others express themselves and analyze their own lives…pictures of food are always a plus too. Hmm…still in thought :)

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JaNelle April 26, 2011 at 1:45 pm

I am so moved by your writing! Please keep doing it! I love it! I felt like we were having a one on one conversation. Well done my friend!

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Leah @ Why Deprive? April 26, 2011 at 3:55 pm

I think you’re an amazing writer. You have such a captivating way of telling a story, I just love coming here. I always save your posts until the end of my work day when I just want to read something good.

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Karen April 26, 2011 at 3:58 pm

This is a wonderful post. I’ve been struggling with what I should/should’t post on my blog lately, and have mostly decided that even though I have a food blog, it’s okay to write about other things that are important to me. It is still very uncomfortable for me, as you say, because I’m not great at sharing so much, but once it’s out there, I’m happy. Very nice to read other thoughts on the subject…can’t wait for Part 2.

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Audrey Ellen @ My Scene and Herd April 26, 2011 at 9:20 pm

The “ETC” that you should have tacked on to your name is probably an indication that you are striving to make the most of all of your roles, sounds like you do it very well.

And bacon flavored lube?!

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Helena April 29, 2011 at 4:55 pm

” “Talking about love is like dancing about architecture.”

It means it’s impossible. It means that no matter how you try, you won’t sum well the essence of love, and I assume, anything like it. And while I do agree that a great many things cannot be captured alphabetically and otherwise, sometimes a person explains a feeling I have or have had in a way that just speaks to my soul. Something feels true about it. Raw and pure and exactly how I’d say it if only I’d known those words, in that order, at that time. ”

This is exactly how I feel about your writing :) What you say just always hits the spot. Please please please keep going!

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