Cold Turkey 2

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Yesterday I copped a parking ticket and an infringement notice for going through a red light.

It’s a serious offence says my husband and he’s right. I shall be more wary in future. It’s not so much the $299.00 fine that irks me as the three lost demerit points. Not lost but gained. Three demerit points that will stay with me for three whole years on my otherwise almost unblemished record. I copped a speeding fine over twenty years ago and that is all.

‘Don’t beat up on yourself,’ my husband says, but I do. I feel terrible, as if I cannot wash this sin from my hands, not so much the sin, as the fact of getting caught. Have I such a feeble conscience?

Similarly with my blog, with my most recent post, Cold Turkey, which almost every one has interpreted as a straightforward statement of my decision to give up smoking. I wrote it in the present tense as though it were happening now and they all almost to a person sent their best wishes and encouragement for giving up smoking.

I gave up smoking in 1981. That’s a long time ago now.

How do my fellow bloggers see me? An old girl with a fag hanging from her mouth. The smell of cigarettes infusing her hair, her clothes and her house.

I can remember the years building up to my decision to stop smoking were years filled with guilt. It was guilt almost more than health and other considerations that pushed me off the cigarettes. Guilt that I should so publicly flaunt a hated habit in front of everyone.

By the time I gave up smoking – largely propelled by the fact of discovering I was pregnant with our first daughter – it came as such a relief.

No longer did I feel unclean, like one of the great untouchables. Coupled with the decision to give up smoking I also decided to demonstrate to my husband and myself how much money we would save from not smoking.

Every week I put aside the money we would otherwise spend on cigarettes and after some six months when I had accumulated a pretty packet, my husband and I invited two of our close friends to go out for dinner to Stephanie’s Restaurant, a leading restaurant in Melbourne at the time.

The dinner costs hundreds of dollars and would not have been something we could never have afforded, let alone pay for another couple as well, but I wanted to mark the occasion of our giving up smoking and I wanted to thank our friends, these two who had given up smoking several months ahead of us and whose inspiration had also inspired us to try to give up, too.

By the time we went for this dinner I was very pregnant, the food was too rich and I could not enjoy the wine, though I vaguely remember allowing myself half a glass of champagne in honour of the occasion.

A few years later I was surprised to learn that one of my two friends had taken up smoking again. They had travelled overseas and were living far from home. Whether it was the loneliness or the work pressures in a hard-boiled advertising agency that drove her to it, I do not know, but my friend still smokes. It could have been she who wrote the previous post or me of thirty years ago. In any case, I am troubled by the whole notion of having to write to truth in the blogosphere again.

Have I betrayed my followers by leading them up a false path or is it okay to write as I have and then when they respond as though my writing were a statement of a present experience to then tell them the truth?

Should I have gone along with the charade? Made out that yes, I am in the throes of going cold turkey. What are the rules?

My good blogger friend, Jim Murdoch says I should have signposted my intention. Why? To alert the reader into reading the post with a different eye, a prepared eye. Why can the reader not tolerate what comes her/his way and make whatever sense he/she makes of it without feeling like they’re foolish, as Jim suggests, because they read it as a statement of present fact rather than a reflection of a past experience written in the present.

I belong to a writing group in which I declare myself to be an autobiographer and the woman who facilitates this group tells me that I am a fiction writer, whether I like it or not. And certainly there are times when I find it easy to slip away from the truth of an experience into something that becomes an extension into a fantasy of that experience, but as I have written elsewhere I am too close to the surface of my experience for it ever to equate with fiction.

Helen Garner
says there are fiction writers who write close to life and others who write further away, who make things up completely. But even as they make things up they have to come from somewhere within. Imagination comes in many forms.

I talked to someone recently about her synaesthesia. She described in vivid detail the colour of all the numbers and how they appeared in her imagination. She had always believed that this was the way others experienced numbers. She could not imagine it otherwise. Then one day, well into her adulthood she heard a radio program on synaesthesia and she realised she was unusual. Most people see numbers as distinct black outlines, they do not ascribe colours to them.

It seems such a joyous thing to do. I wish I too were able to see numbers through the prism of a rainbow. I wish I were able to paint colours around each distinct numeral, but I cannot. I am too earth bound. Similarly I wish I could write fiction. If I could I would tell you all in my profile, I am a fiction writer but I am not.

I write from life, I write it as I see it, and like Emily Dickinson I ‘tell all the truth but’ I ‘tell it slant’.

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52 Comments on Cold Turkey 2

  1. Jerry
    April 3, 2011 at 3:21 am (6 years ago)

    Don't beat yourself up too much over being caught speeding or about the flavor of your blog. We are interested readers and delight in following whatever twists and turns you take us. It is your blog. We are privileged to ride along.

    Reply
  2. The Elephant's Child
    April 3, 2011 at 4:20 am (6 years ago)

    Your writing is a joy and an education. I am with Jerry – we are along for the ride in your car and where ever you take us is fine. At whatever speed seems right to you as well.

    Reply
  3. Ocean Girl
    April 3, 2011 at 4:25 am (6 years ago)

    It was our fault. We should have known you and known how you write. It did cross my mind that it was in the past, and I could not imagine you as a smoker now, but I took my chances because if you had needed our support and encouragement, I wanted to be there for you. Because we were not there when you were that little girl, alone, hungry and scared to enter your own house.

    Reply
  4. Windsmoke.
    April 3, 2011 at 5:28 am (6 years ago)

    When i gave up smoking 40 cigarettes a day 10 years ago i put the extra cash i saved towards house payments and paid off the house. You do the crime, you pay the penalty if you get caught, don't beat yourself up over it just move on, tomorrows another day :-).

    Reply
  5. Kath Lockett
    April 3, 2011 at 5:32 am (6 years ago)

    Jerry, your first commenter, has said it better than I could. Hear hear!

    Reply
  6. River
    April 3, 2011 at 6:22 am (6 years ago)

    I'm wondering if synaesthesia has its origins in those paint by number kits that little kids use.

    Reply
  7. Isabel Doyle
    April 3, 2011 at 6:51 am (6 years ago)

    What a very interesting post Elisabeth!
    First, to get it out of the way, a couple of years ago I got my first ever parking ticket, at Camberwell Junction, near the station, mostly because I couldn't understand the complicated sign (and once upon a time I specialised in traffic engineering). I was gutted and ANGRY, but mostly at myself. It is interesting whether the guilt is at getting caught or at being forced to confront oneself as a flawed human being, like everybody else.

    The part of your post that I found most interesting is the truth/fiction debate. You say you write autobiography, that it is not fiction. From what I can see, you write stories, and your readers (I think) know you are writing stories. They are closely tied to your life – as is I think almost all writing – but I have found the recording of a story, even one I intend to be factual, changes the story. (almost like quantum effects) If I write it at once it may take a certain flavour, whereas with time uncertainties or new insights will season it. We are all unreliable witnesses who muddle up events and doubts.

    Perhaps the most appealing aspect of the saga is the universal support you received for your perceived endeavour – your readers wish you well.

    Isabel

    Reply
  8. Zuzana
    April 3, 2011 at 7:21 am (6 years ago)

    Ah dear Elisabeth, as I never ever read the comments posted before me, I guess I fell for the same thing.;))
    To me the previous post was about kicking a habit I guess.;) I have to say though, that the thought whether you gave up smoking while being pregnant crossed my mind.;)

    Now, I am not a schooled nor skillful writer and have no clue what I am doing half of the time, when I post my creations online.;) But, over the years of sharing my writing publicly, I have come to realize that the beauty of the feedback one gets lies in the versatility. And the surprise. So many times my intentions with my posts is misunderstood and lost, yet again ultimately it matters so little, as I can see that everyone takes something of their own from what they read.
    At times it amazes me how beautiful the human mind is, as the imagination and the way a train of thoughts can travel from a given point is endless. To even be the catalyst in order to make people think is more than I could have ever asked for.;)

    So thank you, as my visits here have that same effect on me.;)
    And sorry about that ticket.;)
    Have a lovely Sunday,
    xoxo

    Reply
  9. Dave King
    April 3, 2011 at 8:16 am (6 years ago)

    It's strange, isn't it. Some say all writers are autobiographers, whether they realise it or not, and some say all writers are writers of fiction, whether they realise it or not. I don't have a position on whether you should have pre-warned your readers. That, it seems to me, depends entirely on your motives and intentions.

    I have only once been done for speeding. We were out for the day in a brand new car to celebrate our son's eighth birthday. I shall never forget the look on his face. He thought I was going to be hiked off to prison!

    Reply
  10. Elisabeth
    April 3, 2011 at 9:36 am (6 years ago)

    I'm comforted and delighted to hear your words, Jerry.

    I try to write as I see fit but I know sometimes it can be disturbing or hit a false note or some such thing.

    I know the 'intentional fallacy' need not apply but still my blogging intentions are honourable, or so I like to think.

    Thanks, Jerry.

    Reply
  11. Elisabeth
    April 3, 2011 at 9:39 am (6 years ago)

    Well I'll try not to speed, Elephant's Child.

    This latest infringement was not for speeding but for going through a red light – symbolic of boundaries you might say.

    I haven't had a ticket for speeding for a very long time and then only once.

    My daughters tell me I drive too slow. I try to keep the slowness out of my writing but I'm sure there are many long and slow passages.

    Thanks again for your kind words, Elephant's Child. You always manage to make me feel better.

    Reply
  12. Elisabeth
    April 3, 2011 at 9:42 am (6 years ago)

    Ah Lisa/Ocean girl, it was no one's fault.

    Most blogs, I find, read as statements of present concerns. I usually respond to them that way myself. So please don't hold yourself responsible and I'm grateful that had I just now given up on smoking you were there with encouragement.

    It's a great kindness. Thanks.

    Reply
  13. Elisabeth
    April 3, 2011 at 9:45 am (6 years ago)

    Wow Windsmoke, you managed to buy a house out of the proceeds of your not smoking. I am impressed. Forty cigarettes a day must have taken up most of your time just to smoke them.

    Good for you. You've paid the price for your so-called crime. Not that smoking is a crime, more a folly, an addiction, a sadness that's hard to overcome.

    But you've managed. Hats off to you Windsmoke and thanks.

    Reply
  14. Elisabeth
    April 3, 2011 at 10:43 am (6 years ago)

    Thanks for endorsing Jerry's perspective, Kath. As I said to him, it gives me heart.

    Reply
  15. Elisabeth
    April 3, 2011 at 10:48 am (6 years ago)

    I find synaesthesia fascinating, River. You may be right.

    A friend commented on the possibility that she had become confused as a child connecting the colours of rods with numbers.

    But from the little reading I've done I understand there's a physiological basis somewhere. There's also evidence that synaesthesia has been around for a very long time, well before those paint by number kits were developed.

    Thanks, River.

    Reply
  16. Jim Murdoch
    April 3, 2011 at 10:52 am (6 years ago)

    Relationships online are odd things, Lis. We tend to ascribe a greater depth to them than they really deserve. And I think this is we also overreact when they don’t progress as we expect them to. As much as we are aware that none of us might be what we purport to be we still prefer to believe that everything our ‘friends’ write is open and honest. Liking someone is easy enough. You don’t need to know much about someone to like them. Kids in playgrounds switch ‘like’ on and off without batting an eye. Online we start off wanting to and expecting to like everyone and it’s always a disappointment when we encounter some awkward bugger who acts as if he or she doesn’t need or even want to be liked. The bottom line is that I like you. I liked you from the jump. (Would that be like at first sight?)

    Caring is different. Caring ascribes significance to a relationship. Caring results in empathic responses. If we care about someone then they matter to us; we have afforded them a degree of control over our lives. We have let down our guard. We have let them in. I try and not care about people; it usually ends badly. The bottom line is that I have come to care for you. When you hurt I hurt; it’s a part of the deal. So, if you break your leg I ache for you and if you decide to quit smoking I feel for you. In the present. Now.

    Now, I know that you have experienced a number of things in your past that have caused you both physiological distress and physical pain. I regret that you had to experience them but there’s nothing I could have done to relieve your suffering back then or even to support or encourage you as you did. This doesn’t mean I can’t sympathise with what has happened to you and wish that it hadn’t but I can do nothing to change what has happened. That’s not the case with what’s happening to you right now. When I was concerned about the time you were devoting to answering every comment on your blog I wrote and offered support. You chose to do your own thing and I respect your decision. That doesn’t mean I still doesn’t worry that you’re going to burn yourself out and perhaps stop blogging … and here’s the selfish aspect of caring … and I might lose this connection but I’ve said my bit.

    No one likes it when a friend playacts; we feel betrayed. If my wife came in and said, “Jimmy, I just saw a kid get run down by a car,” my initial response would be to comfort her. But if she had then said, “That was twenty years ago. I was just talking in the present tense because I was thinking about it and it felt as if I’d just seen it,” then I would, at the very least, be confused but I suspect I’d get annoyed quickly after that. We expect cars to drive on the left-hand side of the road (at least in the UK), we expect water to circle down the drain clockwise, we expect the sun to rise in the east and set in the west and we expect people to use the past tense when they’re talking about things that happened in the past.

    Writing is different. I accept that. We know if we pick up an old letter it may well be written in the present tense even though it might be centuries old and the same goes for novels; the present exists in the past. And, of course, things that happened in the past can still feel so real that they might as well be happening to us right now. So, if you’re distressed now about something that happened twenty years ago I care about that current distress because I can try to minimise its effect on you now. That is why most everyone jumped to offer encouragement now even after the dog story. You tricked us. Not deliberately. But it amounts to the same thing.

    Does that mean I’ve stopped caring? Would I have spent half the morning writing this if I didn’t? Will I question the next thing I read from you written in the present tense? How can I not? Doubt has raised its ugly head.

    Reply
  17. Elisabeth
    April 3, 2011 at 10:58 am (6 years ago)

    My readers certainly wish me well, Isabel. And I'm grateful for it. One of the joys of the blogosphere is the support readers offer. By and large there's a positive groundswell for most posts.

    I find a degree of criticism helpful as well. It keeps me on my toes, especially the criticism I get from the likes of Jim Murdoch because he too wishes me well and he has such a thoughtful approach to whatever he undertakes.

    I also value your comment here, Isabel. What a coincidence that you too should cop a parking ticket in Camberwell. I know the traps.

    One of my daughter's boyfriends was telling us how the other day his entire family, his mother, father and two siblings all copped fines for parking outside the front of their house. They had forgotten to display their permit tickets on the dashboards.

    Normally they all work by day and only need the permits during working hours, and not on weekends.

    They were all home at that time as they were off work to the funeral of their grandfather.

    They intend to appeal.

    Certainly the parking laws can seem arbitrary at times, as arbitrary as the arguments over fact and fiction.

    Thanks, Isabel.

    Reply
  18. Elisabeth
    April 3, 2011 at 11:00 am (6 years ago)

    The versatility of responses is indeed one of the great joys in the blogosphere, Zuzana. Like you I find it intriguing to register the many different ways that people respond.

    I'm glad that you too were not offended by my efforts to explore an idea and to not stick so firmly to the truth that I lost my meaning.

    Thanks, Zuzana.

    Reply
  19. Elisabeth
    April 3, 2011 at 11:06 am (6 years ago)

    I can just imagine the look on your eight year old son's face, Dave. Children find these things so devastating. I don't imagine that you were impressed at the time either, Dave.

    Today despite my intention to drive cautiously from now on, I did an abrupt u-turn on a side street when I suddenly remembered that rather than going home I needed to collect one of my daughters from her school.

    I did this turn onto the wrong side of the road. There was no traffic around, as far as I could see.

    You can imagine my horror when I looked into my rear vision mirror and saw immediately behind me a police car. Fortunately he did not stop me, though technically I believe he had good enough cause to do so if her chose.

    Life on the roads is hazardous, in more ways than one – symbolically and metaphorically.

    Thanks, Dave.

    Reply
  20. Elisabeth
    April 3, 2011 at 11:30 am (6 years ago)

    Oh Jim, I'm so relieved to read this comment from you now. I'm glad you're still talking to me. I was worried you might be even more cross by my efforts to clean up the mess.

    I agree with all that you write here. I agree with the idea that we come both to like one another and to care for one another online, and that we can also feel for each other deeply.

    Most of us in the blogosphere want to be liked, and admired and cared for, otherwise as you say, why would we spend so much time communicating with one another as we do?

    I also agree that we begin to assume things about one another and that there are things that one or other of us might say that can quite unsettle the other.

    I have this experience in my correspondence with Gerald Murnane, too, and with others with whom I have corresponded over the years.

    Online I find it's more fraught because it's so much faster and so much more public.

    You might have noticed some time back a blogger who complained to me from time to time that I wrote more in my comments to you than I did to him.

    It was intended I think as tongue in cheek, and yet I sensed a kernel of truth in it – his annoyance, his jealousy, his resentment that he too communicated with me but I did not appear to make the same effort to respond to him as I did to you.

    From what I have read, this blogger is one of those people who gets some vague satisfaction out of not being liked, or so it would seem. Though I'm not sure I buy the notion that anyone actually enoys being disliked. I see it as a type of defense against being hurt.

    In any case, he's stop visiting my blog or at least commenting here because one day I drew the line at including posts that to my mind actively insulted my fellow bloggers.

    He thought I had become a goody two shoes. He may be right, but I am wary of hurting any one's feelings in this fragile and volatile space, the blogosphere.

    I'm sorry you doubt me/my writing, Jim, but I understand it well enough. I doubt myself. It's not such a bad position to be in.

    Imagine if everyone in the blogosphere trusted everyone else implicitly. There'd be trouble for sure.

    Thanks, Jim.

    Reply
  21. steven
    April 3, 2011 at 12:37 pm (6 years ago)

    elisabeth – i would say that if there's some sort of ethical arbiter out there saying that you have to provide some sort of chronological context to your narratives then you'd better follow suit. however, i don't think there is so bringing a powerful experience into the present moment – in which it clearly belongs for the time being for some reason – then it would be your privilege!!! there's more value in examining why that choice was made. steven

    Reply
  22. melissashook
    April 3, 2011 at 12:41 pm (6 years ago)

    Just stopping by..
    Fr whatever reason, I haven't been reading or writing blogs, so I missed getting caught in the smoke…it's all embroidery, I think.
    but anyway, thank you

    Reply
  23. Ms. Moon
    April 3, 2011 at 2:24 pm (6 years ago)

    Guilt. I think this is about guilt. I wish I could erase it for all of us- that needless, nagging, crappy guilt when really, all we are trying to do is live our lives in the best way we can.
    Honey. It's art. You're the artist. Create.

    Reply
  24. rosaria
    April 3, 2011 at 4:59 pm (6 years ago)

    Elizabeth, so sorry for your ticket. It's hard on so many levels, especially for those people who are conscientiously good drivers.

    Now, about blogging and writing and fiction:

    These exchanges are a very new form of communication across the world. We stumble to recognize all the signs, across cultures, across modes of expressions.

    No need to apologize at all. We are all misappropriating and translating stuff we read. If we get it wrong, no harm done, really.
    This is all done in good faith.

    I'm doing my fiction writing in a separate blog, to separate "the writer" from "the blogger". I find it helpful.

    Reply
  25. Noxalio
    April 3, 2011 at 5:04 pm (6 years ago)

    ah, truth or fiction … caveat: a poet is the least reliable source for commentary regarding this … yet, for what it's worth: i thoroughly enjoy your posts here, Elisabeth, without regard to linear time-line (what a quaint construct, no?) … i say, simply write and don't worry much about the reader's notion, after all, this is not purely social interaction in which the conversation is to be judged by those norms … and posting a surprise follow-up to a prior post is fair game … after all, this is a work in progress (by definition) … and you are in the lead … and we follow …

    noxy.

    Reply
  26. The Weaver of Grass
    April 3, 2011 at 5:50 pm (6 years ago)

    Interesting read Elizabeth. It always strikes me when I read blogs – and when I write my own – that we only know what we are told – we only have the writer's 'slant' on it, as you say. For all you know I could be a forty year old man instead of an pretty ancient farmer's wife – but in some ways that is the beauty of blogging I think – there is an air of mystery about it.

    Reply
  27. Anthony Duce
    April 3, 2011 at 6:00 pm (6 years ago)

    The traffic tickets I can relate too, and remember feeling similar to what you have expressed. As for the smoking. I’m glad you cleared this up. It didn’t make sense based on what I’ve read in the past by you.

    Reply
  28. Laoch of Chicago
    April 3, 2011 at 8:37 pm (6 years ago)

    Moving to a big city and selling my car immediately improved my driving record.

    Reply
  29. Elizabeth
    April 4, 2011 at 4:49 am (6 years ago)

    I think this smoking thing was more a problem with Comments and less with your Writing and your Ideas of Truth and Fiction. What I mean is that we have these communities when we blog, of people who "know" us and who, in some cases, are incredibly supportive of us and sometimes just Chat throught comments, remark, etc. I know that I was happy to learn that you had "quit smoking" so I commented and whether you quit one hundred years ago or yesterday, I'm still glad. Mainly, though, I'm glad to read your writing — to see how you parse your words to describe your interesting life and how you see yourself in it. And I certainly don't imagine you as an old lady with a cig hanging out. I was thinking more in terms of a very cool intellectual with a cigarette burning — something entirely romantic, I suppose and stupidly so!

    Reply
  30. A Cuban In London
    April 4, 2011 at 10:17 am (6 years ago)

    "I belong to a writing group in which I declare myself to be an autobiographer and the woman who facilitates this group tells me that I am a fiction writer, whether I like it or not"

    You are who you want to be, and nothing else. 🙂

    Greetings from London.

    Reply
  31. Elisabeth
    April 4, 2011 at 10:56 am (6 years ago)

    Given there is no such ethical arbiter in existence except in my fantasy, Steven, then I suppose I can let it rest, other than to ponder, as you suggest, on why I shifted chronologies. It was my decision after all. And I will. A dream perhaps.

    Thanks, Steven.

    Reply
  32. Elisabeth
    April 4, 2011 at 10:59 am (6 years ago)

    There's not much smoke here, Melissa, though perhaps a few reams of embroidery.

    Don't you just love the blogosphere for the creation of dramas, mainly of our own creation? Writers are such sensitive souls.

    Thanks, Melissa.

    Reply
  33. Elisabeth
    April 4, 2011 at 11:01 am (6 years ago)

    Guilt can be a great inspiration for art, Ms Moon as well as a great strangler.

    I find I straddle both positions and sometimes I wind up with egg on my face. You'd understand, I suspect.

    Thanks, Ms moon.

    Reply
  34. Elisabeth
    April 4, 2011 at 11:04 am (6 years ago)

    Rosaria, I sometimes toy with creating a blog with a fictional identity into which I might pour my soul – a truly fictional endeavour. But I fear it would all get muddled up in my head and I sometimes think I'm muddled up enough already.

    Thanks, Rosaria.

    Reply
  35. Elisabeth
    April 4, 2011 at 11:10 am (6 years ago)

    Nox, talk about fictional identities.

    When your profile popped up on my Face book page asking to be friends today I wondered now who can this be. Such an unlikely name for a Nox, which to me means night.

    Thanks for your kind words here. The world of Face Book seems slightly less fictional to me, given it's greater limitations and I'm not as active there as I might be. I prefer the depth and intensity of the blogosphere but still I meander through FB regularly and I'm pleased to meet you there.

    I used to connect my blog and my Face book until my daughters told me my blog is too revealing and those folks on Face Book who know me personally would think I was quite strange-mad and so I have severed that connection.

    My blog and my Face Book life are now separate.

    Thanks, Nox.

    Reply
  36. Elisabeth
    April 4, 2011 at 11:14 am (6 years ago)

    I agree Pat. Within the blogosphere we like to think we know one another as we write away – but we don't.

    It is a strange and virtual world in which there are truths and deceptions all the time. Still I think we can usually pick up on a lack of authenticity.

    And somehow I just can't see you as a forty year old male, but your son, D might be. Assuming he is your son.

    Now how do I know that? Thanks Weaver Pat.

    Reply
  37. Elisabeth
    April 4, 2011 at 11:18 am (6 years ago)

    I don't see myself as a smoker anymore, Anthony and can well understand your confusion now. I'm glad you could empathise with the traffic infringement, though. It still smarts.

    And what about you, as an artist, Anthony, who regularly paints the naked human form in all manner of positions, does it not sometimes trouble you or your children or perhaps more likely your grandchildren if they exist, what granddad gets up to?

    The world of art and life as they coalesce within the blogosphere can be deeply disturbing.

    Thanks, Anthony.

    Reply
  38. Elisabeth
    April 4, 2011 at 11:20 am (6 years ago)

    Walking is the great antiodote to parking and traffic infringements as you say, Laoch.

    In Australia it's harder. The distances are vast and the public transport system abysmal.

    Reply
  39. Elisabeth
    April 4, 2011 at 11:24 am (6 years ago)

    Imagining what my blogger friends look like in 'real' life Elizabeth is one of my favourite pastimes.

    I like to play a game of match words and image. I know it's all fanciful.

    It's one of the great joys of the blogosphere for me that the appearance of one's body matters less than the facts of one's life as presented through our creative endeavours, whatever form they take.

    Thanks, Elizabeth.

    Reply
  40. Elisabeth
    April 4, 2011 at 11:28 am (6 years ago)

    When I see my words printed back at me like this, Cuban, I think how differently they look on the page from how I heard them at the time. On the page these words look like a terrible injunction in reality they felt full of encouragement.

    The written word can be very misleading, can't it Cuban?

    Thanks for your support. I value the encouragement to write for myself, whatever others might say.

    Reply
  41. Kirk Jusko
    April 4, 2011 at 11:51 pm (6 years ago)

    I'm one of those who thought you were trying to quit smoking now rather than back in 1981. I'm not offended or bothered that you weren't, but I think I had good reason for believing otherwise. What, exactly, in that post was suppose to clue me in that this was all taking place in the past? I'm surprised Jim Murdoch figured it out. I'm going to have to go back and re-read it and see what I missed.

    You also seemed surprised, in that earlier post, that everyone took it for real, ie, happening now. Well, chaulk it up to your talents as a writer, Elisabeth, which are considerable. Also, people want to believe what they're reading is true. I've seen people write stuff on their blogs that are CLEARLY LABLED FICTION, yet those who populate the comment section believe them to be true, anyway.

    On my own blog, I've written fiction, without it being labled such, but with comic exaggeration, so people usually know it's not real. Like you, I have toyed with the idea of starting another blog under an assumed name, to write about some stuff–conflicts, hangups, and, finally, experiences–that might complicate my life were I to put them under my own name. Also, like you, I haven't because I'm afraid I might just end up confusing myself. I do want and need to write about them. I sort of have already, but under the guise of writing about other things. We'll see if I go farther.

    Keep on writing, Elisabeth, be it fiction, non-fiction, or in-between, and I'll keep on reading.

    Reply
  42. Ellen
    April 5, 2011 at 12:12 am (6 years ago)

    Your writing about the ticket brought back the memory I have of getting my one and only ticket…for running a red light.

    My mother had had major surgery and once my dad and I knew she was out and in the recovery unit he thought we should go out to dinner. He didn't want to eat at the hospital but go somewhere nice. Since I would be driving back to my family we had separate cars with me following him. He drives was quite a bit ahead of me and I didn't want to lose him at the light and sped up. Bad mistake. A motorcycle cop was there just as I ran the light. My dad noticed that I was stopped in his rearview mirror and pulled over. He tried to explain to the cop of my mom in the hospital, my worry and would you please give her a break this one time. That cop said nothing. Just wrote the ticket and got back on his bike. I felt awful.

    I fully understand the feeling of having done a horrible sin. Then the mark on my record. I look back and realize I was too hard on myself. We all do make mistakes.

    Reply
  43. Elisabeth
    April 5, 2011 at 6:55 am (6 years ago)

    That's a far worse experience than mine, Ellen, not only the context, your mother ill and all that but my infringement came in the mail. I could hide my shame.

    I've never been pulled over, at least not yet. I think I'd find that more mortifying than the ticket itself.

    Reply
  44. Elisabeth
    April 5, 2011 at 7:00 am (6 years ago)

    I agree, Kirk: people want to believe that what they are reading is true, even when it's labeled fiction. And if it's not and seems far fetched they might then scream fraud or hoax or untrue. In that sense we're damned if we do, and damned if we don't.

    I'm glad you share my concerns about starting up an anything-goes-blog, given the confusion in your sense of identity it might engender.

    I reckon we are all of made up of multiple aspects within our personalities, we take on different roles and can be quite inconsistent in our behaviours snd our values.

    I suspect most peolple want a clear and coherent and plausible narrative but life simply isn't like that, at least not as far as I can see.

    Thanks, Kirk.

    Reply
  45. Lo
    April 5, 2011 at 6:18 pm (6 years ago)

    Thanks for visiting my blog….I am returning the favor and am glad I came.

    Reply
  46. Frances
    April 5, 2011 at 10:58 pm (6 years ago)

    Elisabeth: You received your infringement notices "yesterday"? In the mail? On a Saturday?
    Now, that really doesn't seem likely.

    I used to read your blogs as a diary interspersed with memoir, and it's interesting to see them as something more complex.

    Reply
  47. Friko
    April 5, 2011 at 11:00 pm (6 years ago)

    You may not actually see this comment but I'll write it anyway.

    As for the smoking, I only gave up when my then almost grown daughter said, "Mum you smell of fags, Give it up, I can't stand this house any more".

    Talk about writing from life. That's what I'm doing too. I've recently fallen out with my creative writing teacher; she finds both my blogging and writing 'life stories' boring or not emotional enough. I've given her up (two recent posts have brought oodles of supportive comments re my decision)

    Writing from life has to be faction at times, there is research into the period and, to fill in gaps in my memory, that research becomes incorporated in the stories. Writing about other people too has its factional edges, we all see our personal histories through different perspectives.

    I am glad you visited my blog; thank you, I certainly like your writing style and shall follow you to find out more. It would make me happy if you returned the favour; but you might, of course, not like my blog.

    Reply
  48. Elisabeth
    April 7, 2011 at 5:54 am (6 years ago)

    I'm glad you're glad you came, Lo. Thanks for visiting and for the comment.

    Reply
  49. Elisabeth
    April 7, 2011 at 5:57 am (6 years ago)

    My blog pieces are all over the shop, Frances, in time and in fact, in memoir as you say interspersed with diary, as well as interspersed with what I call autobiographical fiction.

    Hence the occasional confusions of my readers, but I also find the blogosphere generally a confusing place in which to exist especially in terms of temporal meanings.

    Thanks, Frances.

    Reply
  50. Elisabeth
    April 7, 2011 at 8:23 am (6 years ago)

    I think anyone who says they find your writing boring is not a good idea as a writing teacher Friko, so I'm not surprised you sacked her.

    As for giving up smoking under pressure from your daughter, I can well understand that.

    Our children can teach us a great deal of what is helpful and necessary in life.

    I look forward to reading more of your blog. Thanks, Friko.

    Reply
  51. Ruth
    April 13, 2011 at 10:38 am (6 years ago)

    Again, I have not read comments. But I see how much I missed after the last post by not reading them!

    No, I did not know you were not talking about the present. Nor do I care. The power of it is not lost.

    I love what you make me think about here. What is truth, what is fiction. What are facts even? Inge and I talk about this all the time. Truly, each of us sees everything through prisms and filters, like your friend. Whether they are imagination or "the real thing" they will always be something other than what another sees. Inge and I discussed recently how we wish we could "see" an event that has come to us through our parents' memories or a newspaper, so that we could interpret it for ourselves.

    I really should read all the comments in the last post and this one, to see what you and others have said about online relationships. I'm fascinated by this blogging phenomenon, on many levels and on many topics. Frankly, Elisabeth, you could write about clothes pins and I read suck up every word, whether they were fictional or some other kind of truth.

    Reply
  52. Elisabeth
    April 13, 2011 at 11:03 am (6 years ago)

    I've been talking to John from Penal-colony, Odradek blog, about this very issue- http://www.blogger.com/profile/04578228230659521795. He has left a long and fascinating post about the importance of being able to tell our own story and not having someone else tell it for us through their own biased perspective. It's fascinating and intense.

    It seems it's morning for you Ruth and for me well into the evening and the end of the day. Thanks for your thoughts here.

    I enjoy the discussion through blogging almost as much as I enjoy posting, reading blog posts and responding to them.

    Thanks, Ruth.

    Reply

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