10 Years of Blogging

Yes, this blog has been going for TEN years. The very first post went like this:

Speech is Silver; Silence is…

…not golden. Just a fake gold that soon dulls.  Like the necklace I bought in Cyprus. They told me it was gold. I knew they were lying, but I bought it anyway. I felt I had to buy something because they gave me tea….

I’ve been keeping silent for most of my life. It’s time to talk.

So tune in again, keep in touch and don’t suffer in silence.

A lot has happened to me in those ten years.

I began the blog anonymously, and eventually ‘came out.’ I was afraid of negative comments, but so far there haven’t been any.

I’ve had short stories and three… almost four… books published.

And I talk – not so much in conversations, but through my books and even in presentations. Slowly but surely, I’m telling the world about social anxiety.

Miriam Drori - Presentation on Social Anxiety

P.S. Not all my stories involve social anxiety.

EDIT: I was happy to receive this from WordPress:

Happy Anniversary from WordPress

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This is the eighth in a series of posts describing my recent trip to England, Ireland, the Netherlands and Wales, from writing course to school reunion and more.

Do you talk to strangers when you travel alone? I tend not to. I tend to assume they’re not interested in talking to me. And besides, I always have a book to read, and if I spend the time talking I won’t be getting on with my reading.

But sometimes people start conversations with me, and sometimes they turn out to be interesting. That’s how I met the English woman who lives in the Netherlands. I don’t know her name, so I’ll call her Nonstop.

Nonstop first talked to me at Schiphol Airport when she saw me playing Scrabble on my phone as we waited by the gate for our flight to Southampton.

“Do you like the new version of Scrabble?” she asked, stealing my attention from the game.

I shrugged my shoulders. “I used to like being able to see the meanings of words, but otherwise it’s all right.”

Nonstop had several issues with the new version, mostly because she played with strangers.

“I only play with people I know,” I told her.

I thought I’d seen the end of Nonstop when we went through security and boarded the plane, but she appeared again in the seat next to mine. For an hour and a half, she kept talking. She was very friendly and what she had to say was interesting – for an hour and a half. She told me about her family and her job and why she ended up living in the Netherlands until I started to feel a bit overwhelmed and wasn’t altogether surprised to hear that her marriage didn’t last.

And then she told me about an online conversation she’d had with one of the strangers she played Scrabble with. Instead of just saying, “Goodbye,” she said, “Must go, head count, lights out.”

I wouldn’t have understood this, but the stranger understood and believed that Nonstop was in prison and asked what she’d done.

Nonstop replied, “Murdered my husband,” not expecting the stranger to take her seriously.

“He must have deserved it,” the stranger wrote back and continued to play Scrabble.

Finally, we landed, taxied, waited, said our goodbyes.

As I was remonstrating with the ticket machine at the railway station, I heard a voice behind me. “There’s a queue here, you know.”

“Just a minute,” I called, anxiety rising.

“It’s me.”

I turned round to see Nonstop smiling.

We waited for the same train while Nonstop told me all about the people she was going to visit. When we got on the train, the luggage area was full, so I couldn’t sit next to Nonstop because I had to find a place for my suitcase.

Actually, I wasn’t sorry.

I’m popping out of hibernation just to say it’s my blog birthday today.

This was my first post:

Speech is silver, silence is…

…not golden. Just a fake gold that soon dulls.  Like the necklace I bought in Cyprus. They told me it was gold. I knew they were lying, but I bought it anyway. I felt I had to buy something because they gave me tea….

I’ve been keeping silent for most of my life. It’s time to talk.

And I’ve been talking for four years. Thank you so much for listening and encouraging me to continue.

Just back from three weeks in the UK packed with fun and excitement. OK, it started with my mother’s stone setting, but even that provided an opportunity to meet family. Then there was a barmitzvah plus party – all very enjoyable. Then we met and stayed with a few friends of mine from university.

Then I had a week alone to stay with friends and do some interesting things. I saw the houses of parliament and tent city with Gill, and our journey back turned out to be quite an adventure. I saw Swansea Marina with Jane, and Swansea was the only place where I encountered heavy rain. (It always rains when I go to Wales. Either that or it always rains in Wales.) I visited a car pound with Tania, but hasten to add that she also gave me a quick tour of Bristol and took me to a cafe and a restaurant. And I attended another friend’s ballroom dancing class, and even joined in.

What I’ll remember the most are two things I don’t do enough at home. One is walking. D and I both enjoy walking. We always do plenty of it on holiday, but when we’re at home, it’s easy to find excuses: there are other things to do, there’s nowhere to walk to, we need a rest. It’s true we don’t have a river or sea or a large park near us, but we can drive to all of those and should do so more often.

The other thing I need to do more is talking. Talking is a bit of an effort for me, but it’s so satisfying and something I often miss at home. I was going to end by saying that some people are going to have to suffer listening to me, but really my conviction that people don’t want to hear me is one of the reasons why conversations are hard.

I’ll end, instead, with a Stephen King quote that I saw posted at some station:

If you go back and fix the past, make sure you don’t break the future.

That’s it for now. Next time, I might even post some photos.

To tell you the truth, I’m having a hard time believing my last post but one. Yes, we’re all different. Yes, some people are better at some things while others are better at others. But there are certain things that everyone’s expected to be able to do.

It’s OK to say you can’t sing, can’t dance, can’t walk. But can’t talk? Everyone’s supposed to be able to talk, unless some physical disability prevents it.

All right, I talk. But sometimes I dry up, sometimes I don’t express myself well enough to be understood, and sometimes, in a group, I don’t join in for fear of drawing attention to my shortcomings. And when one of those things happens, my mood drops as eyebrows are raised, and I don’t feel at all proud of being me. Sorry.

hint fiction (n) : a story of 25 words or less that suggests a larger, more complex story

Changing wordsI’ve just written my entries for a competition of hint fiction at http://www.robertswartwood.com/?page_id=8. I don’t expect that any of my entries will be chosen over the many others for the forthcoming anthology of hint fiction, but I’ve enjoyed the experience of composing them. I enjoyed pondering over each word, wondering whether it best suits its purpose, whether its meaning is exactly the one I want in this particular place.

When you’re allowed no more than twenty-five words, you have to use the best ones you can find. In a novel of fifty thousand words or more, you try to do the same, but there’s a limit to the amount of time you can spend getting it just right. Writing a novel is more of a balancing act.

When you talk, you have practically no time to choose your words. And that leads to embarrassment, if you’re me. It leads to wishing you’d expressed something in a different way or wishing you hadn’t said it at all. And that, in turn, leads to refraining from talking. If you’re me.

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Frustrated presenterIf I said I had a fear of public speaking, you would probably believe me. You’d probably say, “Me, too.” After all, most people do fear public speaking, and I should fear it even more than most. And it’s true that most sufferers of social anxiety do fear public speaking and many to such an extent that they would never dream of trying it.

Sorry, but I don’t. I feel much more at ease giving a presentation in front of a hundred people than talking to one person – not everyone I talk to, but most people.

Why? Because a presentation is planned in advance. When I know what I’m going to say, I know I can look at any number of people and say it. I’m not shy. A conversation is spontaneous. When you talk, you have to be able to think up things to say. While worrying about whether your clothes are suitable for the occasion, whether the other person felt the sweat on your hand when shaking it, whether the expression on your face fits the mood you should be in, you have to make up some witty, or at least presentable, remark. And I’ve never been good at multi-tasking.

So I’m not good at talking, and knowing that makes me more afraid of it. Also, knowing that most people aren’t afraid of it and don’t understand others who are makes me more afraid of making a mess of it. And talking, as opposed to public speaking, is something we all have to do – often. And I want to talk, too. It’s just….

I think I’d rather have had a fear of public speaking.

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