Thursday, February 26, 2009

On getting free HBO for a month

[This essay has been removed and is being polished for publication elsewhere.]

Friday, February 13, 2009

Maybe all writers need pen names now, given our Googlubiquity

It just so happens that the same day I was invited to participate in yet another list exercise on Facebook (this one called “The Name Game”), I  discovered that there are several other Beth Blevinses in the United States who write blogs.

The Name Game asks you to combine your and your family's names to create new names that are sometimes silly, sometimes distinct. For example, combine your grandfathers' first names to create your Nascar name (mine would be "Parks Monroe"), or your mother’s and father’s middle names to create your Witness protection name ("Rose Bret"). 

Despite my list-burn-out (25 Random Things being the main culprit), I probably would have been drawn to the Name Game since my southern family has such great first names: Guy, Bertha, Stella, Lola Belle, Maxie, Collie, Monroe, Hobson, Mattie. But realizing my lack of uniqueness, even in the blogosphere, spurred me on. I was in search of a new name.

I already knew there were other Beth Blevinses in the world. I started running vanity searches as soon as Google became available. There is a golfer Beth Blevins, a doula/nurse Beth Blevins and a realtor Beth Blevins. I long ago corresponded with the writer-editor-intuitive Beth Blevins who lives in California after finding her web site (we both agreed we should hold a "Beth Blevins" convention someday.)

Still, I clung to my name. It has a certain alliteration and, well, it's what I'm used to.

However, to see that I am not the only Beth Blevins in the more limited world of the blogosphere was a blow from which I'm not sure I can recover. 

There is a Beth Blevins who blogs about World of Warcraft in a blog called "The Family Business" (which uses the same template I originally used with “Writing Home”). The writer-editor Beth Blevins in California has a blog called "Sacred Feminine Rising"—the postings appear to be descriptions of meditations.  The realtor Beth Blevins appears to have reserved blog space, but has yet to post.

Here are my options, I think:
  • I could choose some variation of "Beth Blevins": My gmail account is "thebethblevins" since "bethblevins" was already taken. But, as a byline, "The Beth Blevins" is just too pretentious, and most catalogers would drop the "The" anyway. Perhaps I could go by the hybrid single name, "Beblevins," which I have used for several email accounts, or split it into "Be Blevins"—but it reminds me too much of all those placards people put on their kitchen walls, or in their gardens, like "Be Peace" or "Just Be." Just Be Blevins.

  • I could add my middle initial or middle name; but, neither "Beth F. Blevins" nor "Beth Frances Blevins" sound that great and "Elizabeth Frances Blevins" just seems too long.

  • I could use initials, e.g., "E. F. Blevins," but when I mentioned this to someone recently they said it sounded like I was "trying to be 'J.K. Rowling'."

  •  Or, I could add a different/better middle initial in place of the "F.", like "Beth X. Blevins" or "Beth Z. Blevins."
None of these options is really grabbing me now. Taking a cue from the Name Game, perhaps I should henceforth go by my soap opera name (middle name, then place of birth).

Signing off as:
Frances Wilkesboro

Monday, February 9, 2009

And so I begin again...

I have a quiet morning for the first time in weeks. There are no pressing deadlines, nothing to do except a household to-do list that can be checked off gradually over the next couple of days.

It is not the sudden-silence that bothers me, but all the ideas I've been waiting to convey—they are not lined up politely in my head, waiting their turn to be let out, but are crowding at the exits eager to be written down, transformed, made public.

My house is quiet but my mind is chaotic. I have been trying to choose an idea to write about, but with so much noise in my head I can’t hear anything particularly, it’s all static. Not being able to choose, or to simply begin, I feel something akin to panic—that there might be nothing there after all. So, I take the easier, perhaps more cowardly approach by choosing none of them, merely writing about the unquiet.

The thoughts are not appeased. If not written down, they will come out in my dreams. Characters who could-have-been will be dream characters, berating me; unwritten stories may become the themes of dreams repeated over and over and never resolved.

Now I understand why a writer should keep a regular schedule. John Updike was quoted as saying he wrote three hours a day, six days a week. Barbara Kingsolver has described herself as a working mother who writes non-stop eight hours a day. The idea here is that the creative mind is a muscle that needs to be exercised regularly, if not daily.

But I think regular writing also is a conduit for visions, an exorcism even. I sometimes wonder at people who sit in bars, drinking until they are numb, or all the housewives given Valium to calm their nerves. Maybe their heads are brimming with ideas, and they don't know how to let them out, or even acknowledge them.

Being able to write—having to write—is both a blessing and a curse. When I am unhappy it is most often because I haven’t been able to write for a few days. At least I know that I want to write, whether I have made the time to do so or not—the pencil is a cheap and easy cure.