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Meta Writing

Advice

02.13.11 | 2 Comments

This post is going to wow you with undiscovered levels of openness and information sharing. Prep.

First listen to this, because it’s quite beautiful, and I’m listening to it as I write. You might as well listen while you read. That’s not a request. (god, I say that to my kids sometimes … )

I’ve been thinking about being a writer lately and what that means, for  me at least. I had a really nice conversation over the weekend with a young woman who knows music in a lot of different ways and loves to write about it, but doesn’t currently have much of an outlet for doing it, at least not a public one. Pop-up. I encounter so few women in this music and writing world that I’ve placed myself into. It’s refreshing to talk with another lady. I’m still a little giddy about transforming into a music writer, even though it’s been a gradual process over a handful of years. Seriously, I’m giddy. I get excited about it. I love writing my dissertation and I do it every chance I get. I haven’t always felt this way and it’s been a recent development for me to actually have some grounded confidence.

Getting right down to it, I’ve been a severely shy lady my whole life. Becoming a mother initiated my exit from some of that – I was going to lose marbles if I didn’t extend myself to a few other mothers and seek support and friendship. A number of years later, still pained by shyness, but a little less so, I moved to Detroit knowing almost zero people here and had to quickly get to know a bunch of folks who could talk to me about Detroit electronic music. At times, I would be going to interview someone I wasn’t sure I would immediately recognize, although that actually never happened. Maybe other people who do interviews and write know what I’m talking about, maybe not. I worked hard to get past all that. But I still would struggle with blindly and randomly approaching people in clubs in Detroit. I always knew who they were, they usually didn’t know who I was. I usually successfully approached and secured interviews with all kinds of people in this way. But not always. Sometimes my fear got the best of me and I went home having barely opened my mouth.

I eventually became tired of the disappointment that came after letting shyness, fear, and temporary discomfort guide my social interactions. I would think, “Shit, I didn’t talk to Kenny Dixon AGAIN. I didn’t talk to Alex Smith, AGAIN!”

It felt pretty bad to allow myself to miss multiple opportunities to talk with people that I wanted to talk with, learn from, interact with on some level or another. I stifled myself with lack of confidence type thoughts: “He’ll think I’m a weirdo. Some white college girl from Indiana who doesn’t know shit about Detroit or music, who just wants to take Detroit stories and information and leave this place.” Now, I think to myself, “Yep, I’m a huge weirdo, to the core. But I do know a little bit about Detroit and music. And even more importantly, I care about it to such a degree that there’s no way I’m going to fuck with it or fuck with you.”

If you hadn’t already noticed, I like to share information. It’s important to me because I appreciate learning from other people who like to educate and don’t hold everything as a big old secret. Yes, of course I keep some things close, but I see the importance of giving out what I can. That’s one reason I started writing online. I didn’t know what I was doing, not at all. But I started a blog anyway. I started writing on the internet in March 2008, right after moving to Detroit and starting my doctoral field research here. I had never really spent much time expressing myself in any kind of slightly anonymous, but extremely public way. I had zero experience with this. I had never spent any time on message boards. I was a total lurker on the 313 listserv because I didn’t have the confidence to share my opinions. I also felt like I really didn’t have enough musical knowledge to qualify me to type any response to anything.

When I started my first blog, I didn’t even know how I wanted to handle comments on my blog. New and weird to the core. I didn’t really understand privacy issues fully, but not in the way you think. I took other peoples’ privacy so seriously that I couldn’t figure out what to do with one of my first comments on my DDD blog. Kent Williams left a generously helpful comment for me early in the life of my blog, and he included his email address. I was totally happy to see his comment, but I didn’t approve the comment for months because I wondered about his choice to include his email address so publicly. As though he somehow wouldn’t want that information public even though he chose to put it on my blog (here I’m rolling my eyes at myself, heavily). Really, how private is an email address anyway? The fact that he managed an email listserv about Detroit techno with over 400 members, had his own public blog, and was active on this internet in a variety of ways apparently wasn’t enough of a clue. Sorry about that lame move, Kent! It took me a while to figure out how I was going to operate on the internet. Learn as you go.

This weekend, I went to a fantastic party at Woodruff’s in Ypsilanti. The party was the first of a bi-monthly event called Discolanti hosted by Todd Osborn, Chuck Hampton, and Mike Trombley. It was excellent, full of dancing people. And I’m telling you something, there were some really exquisite musical selections going on. Head scramble. Anyway, a couple of my special old ladies came out (they’re not old, it’s just funny to say that). One special lady asked me about what the DJs were doing, where does what how. It was such a pleasure to take her up to the front corner of the dance floor so we could see all the equipment and I could yell into her face about it all. I definitely remember feeling way outside of all this. It’s good to be able to bring people closer to it all.

That’s how I use my blog (past and present), facebook, the DLUV message board, and in disturbingly minimal ways, the 313 list. Information sharing. It took me a while to realize that I had information to share, information that other people don’t already have. Maybe being a woman and not a musician impacted my awareness of my information sharing abilities and responsibilities. I would continually assume that everyone else knew way more than I did. When I realized that this wasn’t always true, I began to feel more pride and confidence in the multiple roles I could play as a writer.

This post might seem totally self-absorbed, but I’m writing it from an informative impulse. Life philosophies, life policies information!  I’m writing for any and all of my readers, of course. But I’m particularly thinking of women who have knowledge to share, but let fear and shyness get in the way. Really, this is for anyone with an impulse to learn something or educate someone. It’s not about suddenly becoming aggressively arrogant without anything worth sharing. It’s about being able to acknowledge and act when you are ready to share and educate.

It’s completely unsolicited advice, I know. Hi, I’m Blanche from down the street. Have a macaroon. Need to borrow some sugar? Yes, I’m wearing a cute little frilly apron. Let me tell you how to run your life, what temperature to keep your ice box at, where you should buy your milk, how to grow garlic in your garden, you do have a garden right? You really shouldn’t wear your hair like that. Are you going to drink that with all that sugar and milk in it? I’ll keep going …

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