Writing booksThe early morning hours can be the most troublesome for me. I swim to the surface of a nice-enough dream and land straight in my day-to-day reality. It is, I can assure you, not dreamlike. In fact, those early morning hours when I’m lying awake often feature a parade of my worst case scenarios come to life.

I should get up. I should get up and brush my teeth and start my day. I know this, because when I eventually haul myself out of bed and do it, the worst case scenarios melt down to the bearable reality. But I want to get back to the nice-enough dream and so I burrow in and try for another go at sleep.

Sometimes it works and occasionally I’ll wake up feeling spiffy and ready to meet my day. More often, I wake up an hour later, feeling drugged because I’ve slept too long. When it doesn’t work, I’m left to deal with all the stuff that I don’t want to deal with in daylight–and then some.

As anyone who knows me through ByJane and MidLifeBloggers is aware, I often write myself out of my sad places. Or at least I have in the past. Now–now I’m a little more loathe to do so. Or maybe a lot more than a little.

I’m feeling very self-protective lately. I’m feeling very unsure of where and what and why I am and I’m fearful of put something out there that will be read in any other way than as I intended it. Yes, I would like to control the way people read my words. I work hard to make them specific and true to me, but despite that, my readers have their own agendas, and they will not obey mine.

So I’m not writing the specifics of my sad places, which means that I’m sort of stuck like sludge in them. I came up with an idea this morning for how I could get around that. I would start a new blog, an anonymous blog that would be a repository for all my writing that feels too vulnerable for public dissemination. When I was a kid, I had a red leather diary, with a key no less, that I kept on and off for not very long. I would address my diary directly, but I was young enough that spelling was still an issue for me. I would write, “Dear Dairy.”

I thought, what a great name for this new blog that would contain my most private posts. It would be plain, perhaps a template that looked like notebook paper. The font would be something handwriting-ish. The header would–and here I pulled up short. Header? Template? Font? For whom? Who would be reading this new blog of mine? And wouldn’t the fact that there were readers drastically interfere with my need for total privacy?

Well, yes, it would. But if no one read what I wrote, then what was the point?

That’s when I realized that for me, writing is a performative act; it requires an audience. In some ways, that seems a bit creepy to me. I have this image of my 9 year old self on the school bus flipping her skirts up to get attention. I know people who do that with their blogs. There’s a fine line between showing one’s vulnerable side and TMI. Some bloggers do it well; they’ve built careers on it, and I admire them. Some bloggers I just want to say, “Pull your skirt down and find another way to fulfill yourself.” I think that fine line is mostly in the eye of the beholder–and of the writer. Which is, I suppose, my way of saying, It’s fine for you, but not, I think, for me. At least right now.

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Daphne Merkin


The action is over at JaneGassner(dot)com….come visit.


bardsley cover“Come on in, sit down. Can I get you a cup of coffee?” I could almost hear Anne Bardsley saying that to me as I read her new book, How I Earned My Wrinkles: Musings on Marriage, Motherhood, and Menopause. In fact, I could swear midway through I could hear her offering to pour me a glass of wine, as well.

Anne explains in the Introduction the source of the many tales she tells about–well, marriage, motherhood, and menopause. She is an inveterate note taker:

I have a library of journals where I jotted down memories and snippets of conversations I wanted to remember. Actually, I’m not really that organized. They aren’t so much journals on a shelf as they are a collection of paper napkins, matchbook covers, and restaurant menus stuffed in a drawer with my scribbled notes and tidbits of memories. Sometimes an idea will come to me and I’ll write it on the back of a supermarket or bank receipt. I now have a vast collection!

Take your choice of tales to read–from”A Weighted Matter,” a discussion of the wisdom of vaginal weight lifting, to “Oh, Those Seven Pounds,” about her granddaughter’s birth, to “Two Old Gals Gone Wild,” which tells of the Virgin Islands getaway she took with her oldest friend. There are over fifty (!) chapters to choose from, on every topic imaginable in the world of a midlife woman.

I read my copy on Kindle, but you can buy How I Earned My Wrinkles in paperback as well. If you’re an Erma Bombeck fan, you’ll certainly recognize Anne Bardsley as a kindred soul.

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JG artThe website is up–have you seen it? I mean, really seen it. As in, went to the Nav Bar and clicked on the each of the headings there? The first ones are static pages, but the last one–Writing and Writing About Writing–is the home of my  traditional, typical and, yes, unadulterated blog. I’m having fun designing the site, creating it as a place to talk about things related to writing. Yesterday I started a new list on the sidebar: This Writer’s Bookshelf. I’ll put there the books that have meant a lot to me over the years as well as those I’m just finding now. If you’ve got suggestions, let me know!

Today I changed my Twitter handle from @MidLifeBloggers to @Jane_Gassner. And I’m feeling my way through creating a social media campaign. My goals–to move my loyal and long-time MidLifeBloggers readers to JaneGassner(dot)com where I hope we’ll be joined by writers of all ages.

Today I also started This Writer’s Truth…basically I cracked open the file box I’ve been keeping throughout my career of things I’ve thought, felt, done, and read, that relate specifically or tangentially to all things writing.

The more I think of doing on this new site, the more ideas come to me. Go, me!



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JG artI’ve been a professional writer for almost forty years and in that time, my work has become scattered all over. Some of my earliest pieces are radio news stories, which exist, if at all, on rickety tape cassettes that I’ve carried with me over the years. My feature magazine articles are in the archives of publications, some no longer publishing, and on tear sheets that I’ve also carried with me  over the years. When I added teaching writing and editing to my resume, of course I kept records of those experiences too: syllabi, lesson plans, rosters. After I got my first PC in the mid-’80s, I was keeping what amounted to two set of books–downloads of all my work on floppy disks as well as the hard copies. Considering the fate of floppy disks, I was prescient, if not a bit compulsive about “keeping a record”.

I’m not sure to what end I intended that record–posterity? future biographers? insurance against dementia? I do know, however, that it gives me all the material I might need to create an eponymous web site. When I bought the url JaneGassner(dot)com, I had some vague inkling that someday I would use it, but how or why weren’t part the equation at all.

Someday, however, has become today and as such, both the how and the why are very much in the foreground. The least of these reasons is to create a single place where the best, if not the bulk, of my writing can be found. That’s what you’ll find in Writing & Writing About Writing: my pre- and post-computer era journalism as well the best of ByJane.com and MidLifeBloggers.com. That too will be the place on the site where I blog, especially about all things Writing.

WriteRight Tutoring is where you go if you need a writing tutor to get you (or your kids) through the rigors of college composition courses, research papers and graduate-level academic writing.

The Writer’s Whisperer is for writers of all genres and experience looking for an expert to coach, console, motivate, educate and in all ways help them realize their potential as writers.

You’ll find all of that, plus contact information at Jane Gassner.com  I hope you’ll visit.


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