Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Writing Fiction - Chapter Eight

Jenny Matlock
If you missed where this story started just click here to read it or simply click on the Story-Time Tuesday link at the top of my blog to take you to previous chapters.

Writing Fiction - Chapter 8

You know how when you’re ready to go swimming, sometimes the person already in the pool says, “C’mon in the water’s fine,” and you jump in only to splutter and curse the freezing temperature? I felt like that. And you know what? The water was just as freezing as I’d feared it would be and it was even deeper than I’d anticipated.

I psyched myself up to start working on my blog layout, but when I typed the blog name in, I encountered those two, little, innocent spaces in which to enter my e-mail address and password. At first glance, those two little rectangles had seemed pretty benign, but after several minutes I remember almost throwing my laptop across the room in frustration. When I’d decided to start blogging, I’d forgotten to write down my password. Seriously. Who does this kind of stuff? I remember feeling intense relief when I saw that the blog people must run into the forgotten password situation once in awhile, because there was a little button telling you to click on it for assistance. The only problem with the whole assistance concept, is that you have to remember your e-mail address, too. And, of course, being uber-organized I’d decided at the time to set up a new e-mail address, too, which I now couldn’t remember either. Trying every possible combination I could think of, I fought those two watchdog rectangles heroically with absolutely zero success.

Ready to pound myself in the head and then give up on the whole project, I had just closed my eyes in frustration, when I thought of my husband, ‘Mr. Organized’. I felt certain he’d probably written down all his passwords and put them into a special little book or something. Thinking of him in irritation, made me recall that I had written down my new password and e-mail address. I just couldn’t remember where I’d put them.

Is that a consequence of grief, do you think? I could’ve sworn, before my husband used his ‘heavenly access code’, my memory had been as sharp as one of those amazing knives they advertise on TV that can cut an aluminum can in half and then slice a tomato into wafer thin slices. OK. Maybe my mind hadn’t been quite that sharp, but it’s my story so I’m going with the illusion.

I went to the kitchen and rummaged through the junk drawer, looked through all the magnets on the fridge for a sticky note, and even looked on my calendar, but the e-mail address and password continued to elude me. Taking that as a sign that the whole blog idea was stupid, I closed up my laptop ready to surrender to my lack of memory and there, written on the top of it in silver sharpie, was my password and my e-mail address.

See? Sharp as a made-for-TV knife!

I quickly typed in the magic passwords, and I was in!

My smile of triumph quickly faded, though, into a look of disgust once the plain looking blog was displayed. My blog was ugly. There was nothing pretty about it at all. I noticed the word ‘design’ at the top of the page and clicked on it, hoping it would help me make the boring blahness look fancy and neat like the other blogs I’d visited.

But what I saw next made me gasp in abject terror!

All those blogs I’d looked at had deceived me into thinking this would be easy, but now I had this funny screen in front of me and nothing looked simple at all. I took a deep breath and jumped. And the water was most definitely not fine.

Some of the words on the screen made sense, but some I’d never heard before. One word leaped right off the page, though, and that was the word ‘help’! It was the first word I clicked and I must admit to being relieved when I saw a new little rectangle on the top of next page pop up, cheerfully asking, “What can we help you with?”

I quickly discovered that the blog people put those lying little rectangles there just to mess with your head. Did you know, if you type ‘my blog is ugly’ in that rectangle, they don’t tell you anything remotely useful about how to make it less ugly? All kinds of weird things pop-up instead, like ‘how to disable auto pagination’, ‘how to make money on your blog’, and ‘what TV series do you watch?’ I’m not kidding here! Where was the part telling me to ‘go here first and here second and here third, etc.?’ Where was the part that lied, instilling the false belief that ‘Blogging is easy and any moron can do it’?

I felt cheated. And worried. And a little bit afraid.

“No cupcaking out, Pearl!” I reminded myself and decided to re-read all the buttons. ‘Design’ seemed like a good place to start. Whoa! Did you know there are screens BEHIND the screens in blogland?
I decided to start with the word ‘template’.

Maybe the word should’ve been ‘candy store’, because when I went to the screen behind the screen, I felt like I was in one! I was astonished to see hundreds of different blog designs, and even more surprised that every time you clicked on one of the pictures, it changed your blog to look like the one on the screen! Wow! I could change the colors to purple, pink, green, yellow, or any color of the rainbow. There was a template that was orange with pink swirls in the background and another that looked like clouds against a blue sky. I clicked on each picture to see how it would look on my blog. Wow! I liked the one with wide pink stripes and the one that looked like the outside of a hotel. Then I clicked on one with bright green grass, a bright blue sky and a few white dandelions. I’d looked and looked at that one.

I debated with myself: Was it too frivolous? Should I choose something more somber? Should I pick one ‘better suited to a woman my age’, or perhaps more appropriate for a woman who was still emotionally married to ‘he who will never boot up his computer again’?

I looked through all of the choices again. There was a black and gray one that was simple, but it made me sad. Right next to the green and blue one I liked the best, was a chocolate colored background with a little map on it. After I tried that one on my blog, I finally raised my head and looked around at the now darkened room. Glancing at the clock, I could not believe that the entire afternoon was gone! I was starving. My butt felt like it had grown roots into the chair. The blue and green one was it! I clicked on the little button that said “apply ” and the screen filled up with my new happy looking blog. I shut down my laptop and tried to stand up.

It was hard to balance with my butt all flat and numb; I felt like I might be permanently bent into an upside down letter ‘L’ shape. If you’d been peeking in my kitchen window at that exact moment, you’d have thought I was as crippled and hobbled on the outside, as I was on the inside. But I guess you wouldn’t have known about the crippled on the inside part, because even if you’d suspected it, I’d never ever have let you see how maimed and mangled my soul was. I still had my pride back then and I was still writing fiction inside my heart and trying to convince myself, along with the rest of the world, that I was doing just fine, thank you very much.

To be continued, Tuesday, November 3.

(c) 2010 Jennifer R. Matlock
This publication is the exclusive property of Jennifer R. Matlock and is protected
under the US Copyright Act of 1976 and all other applicable international, federal, state and local laws. The contents of this post/story may not be reproduced as a whole or in part, by any means whatsoever, without consent of the author, Jennifer R. Matlock. All rights reserved.

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My name is PJ. said...

I was the upside down "L" yesterday and still am today. It's rather attractive, I think. I feel as close as I could ever feel to short in stature. Wish I felt petite...


Ahem! You may pass me sitting on a street corner with a sign that says, "Need work to keep sane."

Jeanie said...

I had to laugh because I felt the same way at one time, wondering how people got all those pretty backgrounds on their blogs. I think our girl Pearl is on a roll.

Tina said...

Delicious as always. I think Pearl is doing better than she thinks. She's managed to get quite far in the blog thing considering how inexperienced she is, and how depressed she is! On really depressed days, a goal might be "get out of bed". "Take shower before getting back in bed." Sigh. If you need to research what depression looks like and feels like, I'm your girl!

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading this so much...was totally absorbed. When Pearl ever gets around to writing on that blog it will be amazing I am sure. So looking forward to the next chapter. Hugs

Aelwyn said...

I love this story! Can't wait for the next installment!

Willoughby said...

I was so excited to read the latest installment of your story! I've been looking forward to it since last week. You did not disappoint, I loved it!

Sue said...

This is bringing back some very funny memories. I had no clue whatsoever what I was doing when I started my blog.

In fact, I still have no clue!


Paul C said...

How interesting to read about expanded horizons.

Amy said...

Ugh. I can completely relate. Finding the right background or "template" is hard enough. Add on to that the html coding and I can see why so many people charge to build a great looking blog for you! If I didn't have a programmer for a husband, I would do the same. As it is, he encourages me to figure it out on my own... which is why I currently have a white background. Go figure.
I am glad Pearl found one she was happy with, and I say that she should use whichever one she likes, regardless of how happy it makes her feel. Unless she wants a Jonas Bros background. That would just be wrong. ;)

Ms. Anthropy said...

I still feel this way every time I log in... inept, stupid and crippled! I'm convinced it will never improve.

PS: I email all my usernames and passwords to myself, or I'd be up the creek!

H said...

Pearl is making great headway, but now I'm wondering how she is going to lose her pride and whether or not this will ultimately be a good thing.

Mighty M said...

Design done....a post can't be far away!! :)

The Words Crafter said...

I've spent hours looking through backgrounds, trying to change tints and colors. It's fun. I'm very glad Pearl has found something to focus on. I can't wait till she starts writing!!!!

Lourie said...

I no longer have a butt....seriously it's flat. I want lypo done on my gut and transfer it to my butt! I have no bootie! hahaha.

I can't wait to see what Pearl does next. I am rooting' for her!

Terra said...

we wear the mask that grins and lies...

Pearl is a fun character with a lot in her head...you know I wait each week to read your chapter until I can sit and enjoy it, you never disappoint.