Tag Archives: Writing

The big black blob of blah

It’s been a tough week. Not tough in the sense of hard or difficult. It’s been tough in the sense of BLAH.

I have a big black blob of blah that builds up inside of me from time to time. And, no, I haven’t been smoking wacky tobacco or popping illegal drugs. It’s “big” because it’s constantly growing, feeding on the disappointments and negativity in my life. It’s “black” because that’s what my mood becomes when it shows up. I call it a “blob” because it works pretty much like that creeping amoeba-like alien that Steve McQueen had to deal with in the movie – it covers everything and cuts off all that is good and light, growing bigger and bigger as it consumes more and more. And “blah” is pretty much self-explanatory – that’s how I feel inside when it’s around.

The big blob of blah has been around for a long time, pretty much since my teenage years. I’ve always envisioned it looking like a really evil black Barbapapa. One day I’ll feel fine – laughing and joking – the next it’s “clickety-click, Barba-trick” and the blah descends.

My big black blob of blah isn't smiling like this hairy Barbapapa.

My big black blob of blah isn’t smiling like this hairy Barbapapa.

I try to work through the big blob of blah, forcing myself forward, always forward. Get dressed, go to work, do work, socialize with co-workers, go home, interact with the Goobers and the Genius, try to write. But the blob is made of sticky stuff. Peel it from one surface, and it’s soon stuck to another, like an annoying burr of negativity. And lately it’s been getting worse.

Back when I was young and gung-ho to change the world, I composed a mental list of experiences and accomplishments I hoped to achieve in my lifetime. The list was lengthy and – shall we say – overly optimistic. Here’s just a sampling of the feats I was going to do:

  • Win an Academy Award – At first it was going to be in an acting category, then I moved on to directing. Now I’d settle for original work or adapted screenplay. Who am I kidding? I’d settle for best gaffer, focus puller or coffee-getter.
Never going to win one of these babies. Just as well, I don't dust.

Never going to win one of these babies. Just as well, I don’t dust.

  • Write a “great” novel – Of course, along with that “great” novel would come fame and fortune, a Governor General’s Award, possibly the Orange, Giller or Man Booker prize, and the opportunity to adapt it to film, thus leading to the Academy Award.
  • Earn a university degree – When I toddled off to university many, many years ago, I was an immature idiot. I partied like it was 1999 (actually it was 1989) and blew all kinds of opportunities, mainly the chance to earn a degree. It’s something I’ve regretted very much. I have tried various times to get that ever elusive degree but life always becomes too busy and formal education falls by the wayside. So, alas, I only have an honours diploma.
The iconic image of the University of Toronto where I lasted exactly two years in pre-med. I just wasn't blood thirsty enough.

The iconic image of the University of Toronto where I lasted exactly two years in pre-med. I just wasn’t blood thirsty enough.

  • Travel around the world – I have been to some amazing and beautiful places in my life, such as Israel, Egypt, Mexico and England. But currently I seem to be stuck in a rut of work trips to Iowa, Nebraska and Wisconsin. These are lovely places with great people but when you say Des Moines, exotic and exciting doesn’t come to mind.
  • Win the Triple Crown with a filly – I love horses and I love thoroughbred horse racing. I’ve always dreamed of owning a horse farm stabled with some of the fastest horses in the world. Of course, their bloodlines would all trace back to the great Man o’War, the original Big Red. Breeding and training a three-year-old horse capable of winning the Triple Crown is a great achievement and hasn’t been done in about 40 years. And it has never been accomplished by a filly.
The great Man O' War romping down the home stretch in the 1920 Belmont Stakes.

The great Man O’ War romping down the home stretch in the 1920 Belmont Stakes.

  • Meet and be friends with some of my favourite authors and celebrities – Yeah, right! Welcome to Fantasy Island! This has been a steadily shifting list that once included David Hasselhoff (from his Knight Rider days) and Mr. November from the 1986 or 1987 Chippendale’s calendar (I can’t remember which year). Now I’d want to have a dinner party with The Bloggess (Jenny Lawson), Matthew Gray Gubler, Margaret Atwood, Dan Aykroyd, Donna Tartt, Bill Murray, John & Martin Marquez, Jo Nesbo, and a steady stream of famous dead people (Alfred Hitchcock, Sylvia Plath, James Mason, Jane Austen, John Belushi, Charlotte Bronte, etc.). And then I’d probably want Taylor Swift to write and sing a song about it (I’m joking).
An image of John and Martin Marquez from the play Boeing Boeing. I guess the stewardesses could come to the dinner party too.

An image of John and Martin Marquez from the play Boeing Boeing. I guess the stewardesses could come to the dinner party too.

  • Win an Olympic gold medal in the Three-Day Event – I can still remember the day my high school boyfriend informed his mother this is what I wanted to do when I “grew up.” The stunned minute of silence paired with rapid eye blinking should have been my first hint this was maybe a bit much. Now, I’d be happy if I could fit into my riding breeches and heave my fat ass up on a horse.
  • Win the Nobel Prize for Literature – In order to win this baby, you have to have actually written a book; well, several books. And they would have to be REALLY FUCKING GOOD. About the only criteria I currently meet for obtaining this great honour is the fact I have a pulse.
Never going to win one of these either. My luck, my girl Goober would steal it to put with her track & field medals.

Never going to win one of these either. My luck, my girl Goober would steal it to put with her track & field medals.

So, as you can see, having a firm grasp on reality and setting realistic goals are not my strong points. Thus leading to the big black blob of blah. I’m getting older and older and older and with each passing year, accomplishing even one of these dreams is becoming harder and harder to attain. And that bums me out. BIG TIME. I had all these great ideas and optimistic goals (well, overly optimistic) and I haven’t been able to come close to even one of them. And the big black blob of blah likes to remind me of this – often. As a result, I take lots of blob-busters, rest on couches in tastefully lit rooms and talk to nice, understanding people, and wonder when the big black blob of blah will finally consume me.

HELP! Am I really that “off-putting” and horrible?

A few weeks ago Kristen Lamb, who I follow, wrote a blog entry entitled: 8 Tips to Make Sure Everyone on Twitter Hates Us. I was intrigued because Twitter and I, we just aren’t gelling.

So, I read her advice and thought I would drop her a line asking for a little one-on-one assistance.

Kristen, Love the blog and particularly this post. I’ve been trying to get people to follow me on Twitter but I’m having a hell of a time. I Tweet links to my blog (which I think is funny and informative – maybe it isn’t?), I make funny comments about news and other items I see on Twitter. I try not to be offensive or too edgy, just (hopefully) funny and sarcastic. What do I get? Crickets. There are also a few Twitter accounts I follow and I would love them to follow me. They seem like funny, witty people. I try to engage them in social interaction. Silence. Like you said, I thought Twitter was a tool to be social with other people. Instead, these people just want to be social with people they already know and see every day. I don’t get it? Is it me? Am I expecting too much? Am I that unlovable? Do I suck that bad? Please help!
Manure Gurl

This was Kristen’s helpful advice back:

This is where hashtags help. It’s like communities or groups where people chat. #MyWANA is a good place to start. Also try hashtags of favorite shows or hobbies. Look for ones where people are actually TALKING and that will take trial and error.

I also received this response:

Do what Kristin (sp) suggests, but here’s something to add to the list…and please don’t take it the wrong way: re-visit your decision to identify yourself as “manuregurl.” I don’t know if you’re a farmer, daughter of a farmer, and don’t want to offend farmers in general, but it’s an off-putting moniker, to say the least. It’s about as appealing as naming yourself “Sh*thead”, but more importantly, it sends a message that you don’t take yourself or your blog seriously. And if *you* don’t take yourself seriously, why should an anonymous reader/Twitterer/blogger/potential agent or publisher? -Just a thought. And FWIW, I’ll follow you and your blog – promise. 🙂 Best from Nashville.

So, after I read that, I promptly took it the wrong way. What didn’t help was The Genius agreed with this person – he too thought my name was “off-putting.” I cried, wailed, pulled out my hair and ground my teeth into mere stubs. A few days later, I came up for air.

Is a Twitter handle like Manure Gurl really like calling yourself Shithead? I don’t think so. But maybe there’s something wrong with the way that I think. After all, I’m the one who originally picked the name.

As for the not taking myself too seriously comment – guilty as charged. I don’t take myself too seriously. I currently take three pills a day to ensure I don’t. I used to take myself and my life and everything going round and round in my head too seriously. I’ve been down that path and I have the mental and physical scars to show for it. Once in awhile, I rebound and it isn’t pretty to see. But I don’t think that should stop someone from reading and enjoying my writing. At least, I hope it doesn’t.

So I would like to know – do you consider my Twitter and Blog name off putting? Am I a shithead? Do you feel that’s why I don’t have many people following me or reading my Blog? What do you think I could do to make it better? How do I get more followers and readers? Should I start all over from scratch with a name like Bubbles R Gr8 or Happy!Happy!Joy!Joy! ?

Please be honest. I know there aren’t many of you out there who follow or read my blog but maybe you could ask some of your friends or fellow Twits and bloggers. I’d like to get this right, if I can. As I stated once before, I’d like to make this a success because I don’t have a lot of successful things of my own in my life – at least, nothing I am actually capable of seeing.

Thanks.

Breaking out of my shell

I want to make this blog a success because, to be honest, I don’t have a lot of successful things in my life; well, at least none that I can see. To work toward this goal, I have decided to take part in WordPress’ Zero to Hero exercise, which promises to help you develop a better blog in 30 days.

I’ll believe it when I see it.

According to the first assignment, I am supposed to introduce myself, which just goes to show I’ve already fucked up this blog thing and made my first post about my Doc Martin/PC Joseph Penhale meme habit. Shit!

To help remedy this error, I’ve decided my second post will be my formal introduction to the blogging world.

Greetings, venerable ones. I am Manure Gurl, a 40-something writer, editor, photographer, wife and mother who lives in the far rural reaches of southern Ontario, Canada; not quite in two-headed calf country but pretty damn close. To get all the stereotypical mumbo-jumbo crap out of the way, no, I do not live in an igloo, although there are some winter nights when my house is probably as cold as one. I drive a mini van, not a dog sled. I haven’t skied in more than 25 years, I cannot ice skate, and none of my children are involved in hockey (sacrilege!). Instead, they are aficionados of the beautiful game, football/soccer, which is played during the summer on a grass-covered field in warm/hot/stifling weather, rain or shine, or in a converted roller rink in the winter (weird but true).

I know you’re wondering, why Manure Gurl? There are several reasons. When I was younger, my best friend used to joke that my eyes were brown because I was full of shit, which wasn’t too far off the mark (my eyes have changed colour since then and are greenish hazel now). I’m a smart ass, a joker, a teller of tales and love hearing and telling stories, the funnier and more off-beat, the better. Also, my first Twitter handle was ManureGurl (I had to go with the creative spelling because someone had already taken ManureGirl, I shit you not) and I still maintain the account. Of course, the main reason is the name has some relation to my day job, what I do when I’m not writing blogs. I write about excrement – shit, manure, crap, dung, muck, guano, poultry litter, droppings, organic fertilizer. I admit, it’s not what I dreamt of doing when I graduated from J-school (I wanted to be a war correspondent) but it helps pay the bills. As the old adage states: It’s a shitty job but someone has to do it.

I’m hoping to use this blog as a vehicle for displaying my true passion, which is writing fiction and poetry. I’m also a big fan of theatre and opera so there may be the odd review thrown in for good measure and, of course, stories and vignettes from my life, both past and present. My world can become pretty fucked up from time to time and that’s always worth a big laugh. It’s better than crying.

I’m a pretty passionate person and can become somewhat obsessive about subjects and hobbies. I’ve been known to research a topic to death, the more obscure and difficult, the bigger the challenge. My current obsessions include collecting Canadian, U.S. and UK first edition books; reading, particularly the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die; British TV shows Doc Martin and Sherlock; raspberry lemonade; U.S. TV shows Criminal Minds, Mad Men, Homeland, The Killing and The Walking Dead; and losing weight.

I’d probably pee my pants in glee if my blog, or even my Twitter feed, were followed by The Bloggess (Jenny Lawson), British actor John Marquez (@MrJohnmarquez), Matthew Gray Gubler (@GUBLERNATION) or really anybody with a pulse. I know that probably won’t happen, after all these people actually have lives. But it’s nice to dream. And, in the immortal words of that awesome Canadian band, Hedley: I can do anything!