23 October 2009

On Not Being Russian

I must not be Russian, because I lost my ‘pov’.

Arrggh. It is a bad joke, I know, but it leapt to the fore of my consciousness when I sat down to tap out my thoughts this day. It was another play on words among the thousands that have branded my hide with the mark of ‘dork’, almost from day one of me being able to speak English.

I fear it to be true. I am afraid I have no ‘point-of-view’. POV has escaped me. Sigh.

This mildly disheartening epiphany blossomed in my po’ lil’ head bone as I dallied in the upper reaches of the blogosphere, skimming on the currents, drafts and vortices that the lovely Interwebs offers to them that cares to read. I was dipping into some of my favorite blogs, catching up on reading, and just generally digging the flow of information.

The more I read, the more I sensed a somewhat common thread to many of the blogs oozing across the screen: themes. Many of them have a theme, even if unstated. By theme I mean that core set of ideas, guiding principles or vibe that gives them a digital “fingerprint”. The subjects vary, but in most and certainly in the best, I can recognize the voice of the author. Sort of like listening to music by U2 or Bob Dylan, or reading a book by John Thorne or Cormac McCarthy. I dig that sort of thing.

I’m not so sure it diggeth me. I was on and off of Irish Gumbo a few times in my travels, and it slowly dawned on me that I wasn’t getting that same sense on my own blog. I mean, I know what to expect, because I write the spooge that ends up getting posted. But I would be hard pressed to describe to someone who had never read this blog, what it is that defines it. What’s the hook? Humor? Sex? A fresh take on cruciferous vegetables (“…consider the broccoli rabe, the surly cousin to good ol’ broccoli…”)? I think maybe a better analogy is, how would I pitch this blog, if it were a book proposal? What is it that is the “voice”?

I find it mildly upsetting that I don’t seem to know.

There are so many fine folks out there who can do so many things so well, so much better than I that I often feel like I’m looking through the window of the bakery. Every so often, the door opens up and a pleased customer rushes out, baguettes tucked under the arm. I stand there swathed in the yeasty goodness that is the aroma of fresh baked bread. The door shuts, my hand is too slow to hold it open, and I am left wondering how I will ever bake my own.


  1. I would say that the theme that ties your blog together is heart and honesty. But that sounds horribly mushy so I'll probably think of a sarcastic way to end this comment instead. (Incidentally, my own theme would be "writing incessantly about having nothing to write and getting way with it sometimes". Long-winded but true.)

  2. Are you kidding? Your writing has a very distinctive voice. Honest and raw and heartfelt. Don't be so hard on yourself, Gumby.

  3. We are our own worst critics, my dear Irish. I'm with the others. There is a raw honesty about your writing that is very appealing.

    As far as a "theme" goes ..your blog is ... well, it's like a box of chocolates ;) Ya never know what you're gonna get.

    ..and that's why we keep on coming back.

  4. Here's the theme I see after a year of reading your blog:

    Irish Gumbo is the story of your life as seen through your eyes and felt with your heart. The writing is so honest and so skillfully done you manage to put us in your place of the moment in what feels like "real time". Sometimes it's a silly place, sometimes a place of mystery, sometimes one of joy, and others one of heartbreak. It's a 3-D story with all of the usual twists, turns, and WTFs one might find in any life.

    It is a delight and a priviledge to be allowed to share in your journey with you.

    So, shut the fuck up.

  5. Your calling card, Irish?

    Excellent writing!

    And isn't Gumbo supposed to be a spicy, slushy, slurry of this and that?

  6. I have to agree with everyone else - I'd know what you wrote just about anywhere. Many blogs have "themes" but some do not; it doesn't make them bad blogs, and dear - yours is EXCELLENT.

    But, yes, I do see where you're coming from - why do you think my blog's byline is "a little of this, a little of that?"

  7. Your blog is a mix and as someone already pointed out that what's gumbo is. You have a voice, and quite a good one at that. You mix laments from the heart in a third person view which is very interesting (In the good way)with humor and a dash of spice perhaps.

    Who says POV has to be the same everytime? I don't write that way when I work. Every POV is inside the author and I think you are just letting each point of view out a little at a time.

    I don't make any sense unless you live in my head sometimes but the bottom line is: You are a wonderful writer so keep writing. It doesn't matter if the blog has a theme, it's about your life and life is made up of a lot of different themes.

  8. Yup. Honesty and heart. That's you. And some kick ass fiction thrown in for good measure.

  9. Like my own, the title of yours says it all. A little dis, a little dat, and literary diners come away sated with the flavors and rich mixture of ingredients.

    PS You're voice is that of the unspoiled. You are deep inside the bakery, whipping up special concoctions almost unconciously like the best of chefs do, and not even realizing it. Write on!

  10. Your theme could be blended authenticity with sherry and vanilla high notes. Or perception disco. Marigold and gunpower love brigade. I don't know. Does it matter? I like you.

  11. 172 folks beg to differ.
    and that's not counting the lurkers.
    i'm sure there are many more.

  12. If your blog had a voice it would be white noise - ie, the sound of an old analogue television that is not tuned in to a signal - the same noise they use to torture prisoners.

    I hope this helps

  13. Just don't become Spooge Gumbo.

    I would go with what IB said. Except I am a lady and would never tell you shut the front door up.

  14. Dude, I post pictures of grilled cheese. Listen to IB and STFU.

  15. It's you, Irish. Like Baldy says, heart, honesty, truthfulness..and being fearless in expression....that's what we all think of you, Dumbass Jnr. :)))

  16. okay, Stephen King. Just shut up and admit your a professional.

  17. (But I totally get it. I'm not sure what I am, either.)

  18. I wrestled with my relationship with my own blog, until I decided on the following;

    1. The blog established my writing practice. People struggle to make writing a priority and a regular practice. Done.

    2. I've built the foundation. Even if I don't know exactly what I'm building, it's got a strong foundation.

    3. I value the community. I've made friendships, forged writing partnerships, and made valuable connections.

    So more than "who I am" on-line, I look at what I've accomplished. The benefits are significant.

  19. I would like to say right now that your talking bollox Irish, but I won't as I'll leave that to the end of this comment!

    You have an indefinably well crafted style of writing Irish, I don't know your history (literary wise) but where ever it is that your coming from right now has a POV all of your own stamped right across it.

    One thing I strive to do, but which you do so very well, is flash segments of humour all over the place. Be it in your series stuff or in the fiction. If we were all 'writers', none of us would be here! We create in a way unheard of just a few years ago and I can honestly say that your Blog truly stands through somebody who is committed to a cause....I haven't quite worked out what the cause is yet though...for myself at least!

    I think the beauty of a blog such as yours, is that we are finding our voices in real time. We learn as we go along and we share that openness as we do so.

    I can only write once a week, more than that and I know dam well that I'd bore the shit out of myself....and others! I'd know that Irish wit, style and POV of yours if I was to read just 3 of your lines on a blank page....

    Believe me Irish, if your the flour and your blog is the water then you shall surely continue to rise with your own words...

    Ohhh Jezuzz, now I'm talking bollox!!!

  20. Irish Gumbo, Your blog name says it all, cher! Thanks for stopping by the gumbo cook-off and for your sweet comment. :)

  21. Themes are like a sieve. You cram stuff through it to get a homogenized slurry.

    I'll take a steaming bowl of Gumbo any day, extra chunky!

  22. like I always tell you,just be your self.(with a little bull----)will see you this week.oldman irish

  23. I like your vibe. It's better than my own, which I think is profanity. At least, that's what I seem to be "known" for. You are much more grounded and centered than you realize.

  24. NONESENSE! You are being far too hard on yourself. There is a definite "voice" to your writing! I think even if I didn't know you I would still hear your voice speaking into my ear with all emotion of a deep conversation. Or your Smart @$$ tone...

    Oh yeah! One more thing...What's wrong with being a "dork?" ;-) We're just a Family O'Dorks, don't you forget it ;-)

  25. Yup. They are all correct. Your voice is very distinct or why would I remember it two years later? Out of the blue? Huh?


"Let your laws come undone
Don't suffer your crimes
Let the love in your heart take control..."

-'The Hair Song', by Black Mountain

Tell me what is in your heart...