The “I”s Have It…

Like many new bloggers, I was consumed with anxiety when I posted my first, tentative essays on WordPress.   “Will people like them?”, I wondered.   “Will anyone take time to read them?”   “How will I ever know?”

As time passed and I grew more assured, I began to think less about others’ response to my words and  more about the writing itself.  Georgia O’Keefe once reflected on a book of photographs and text published to mark her 90th birthday by saying,  “Where I was born and where and how I have lived is unimportant.  It is what I have done with where I have been that should be of interest”.  Reading her words, I felt an immediate kinship.  Over the months, I’d begun to make similar comments when discussing my own work. “This is how I understand things.” ” This is the way I experience the world.”  ” This is what I would like you to see.”

To be frank, that’s a lot of “I”. At one time, it would have made me uncomfortable to say such things.  During my formative years, “I” was a bad word.  No one ever said so explicitly, but if any of us began to use it just a little too often, we knew we needed to stop.  “I” was a  selfish word.  “I” was self-centered,  vain and egotistical, prideful, frivolous and perhaps even a little smart-alecky, like the inevitable kid in the back of the classroom who loved to wave his arms and yell, “Teacher! Teacher!  I know! I know!”  It was impossible to stop using “I”, of course, but we weren’t supposed to celebrate its necesssity.

Life being what it is, someone was bound to challenge that view of things.  My challenge appeared in the form of a rumpled and utterly distracted professor who bore a vague resemblance to Quentin Compson.  Tie pulled loosely to one side, occasionally missing a button, shedding files and paper like autumn trees, he was a natural actor whose classes could be pure theatre.  He didn’t precisely teach but rolled through our lives like a force of nature, tacking signs above his desk that proclaimed  Creato, Ergo Sum  and asking questions like,  “If you had to wear a scarlet letter, which one would it be?”   His lectures were filled with a mix of literary classics, myth and religious texts.   We got Genesis, Gilgamesh and the Gospels filtered through Melville, Eliot, Faulkner and Greene.    

 My first day in his classroom, he  began by insisting each of us recite twenty-five sentences beginning with  the word “I”.  He didn’t care about content. “I hate carrots” was as acceptable as “I love my mother”.   We did it every day.  Once we’d become accustomed to the routine, he increased the difficulty by pairing “I” with some interesting companions: “I hope… I think… I wish… I hate…”  Through it all, we began to stretch and gain a new awareness of self, not to mention an understanding of our vision of the world and what we found of value there.

His more specific point for us as writers and communicators was made the day he glared at us over his glasses and said, “Good writing  depends on the ability to say ‘I'”.   Taking advantage of our startled attention, he added,  “Being willing to say “I” means being willing to take responsibility for your vision, your words and your life.”   For him, the person able to say “I” without apology or arrogance was a person worth listening to.  Responsive and responsible, secure, whole and with a deep commitment to truth, that person alone would have the confidence to say, “Listen to my words, and judge them for yourself.”

He hated nothing more than those who refused to claim their words.  A retreat into false objectivity, so acceptable in academia, drove him crazy.  It was an unfortunate student who used any of the phrases:  One would think… There are those whoIt has been suggested that… Critics say   Using  those or similar phrases in writing or speech would land him in front of you, breathing heavily and saying, “Your words are beautiful.  Your words are elegant.  But are they true?  What about you? What do you think?”

During those confrontations, our pretentious phrases stood revealed for what they were – weasel words, cowardice dressed up as ambiguity, escape hatches for people unwilling to stand for their convictions. Cowardice makes it difficult for an artist  to discover and defend his or her vision, and our fire-breathing professor knew that.  One of my favorite O’Keefe quotations comes from a catalogue for a 1939 exhibition.  Feisty and straightforward as always, she says ”  “I made you take time to look at what I saw and when you took time to really notice my flower you hung all your associations with flowers on my flower and you write about my flower as if I think and see what you think and see – and I don’t.”  My professor called such statements, “Essence of I”, and  Georgia O’Keefe was its embodiment.

In a culture given to worship of mediocrity and homogenization,  where skill, intelligence, sensitivity and vision too often are dismissed as irrelevant or uninteresting and clear statements of personal value are confused with egoism on a regular basis, the ability to speak a clear and coherent  “I”  can enliven, challenge, entertain and cajole as surely as my beloved professor.  Today, in a bit of delicious irony, his passion for the confident “I” has born fruit in at least this way: one of my first esssays, “I Believe in Asking, ‘How Can I?'” is being broadcast on Houston’s NPR station as part of the This I Believe series.

Once again, that’s a lot of “I”s.  But on this day, at least, the “I”s have it.


Click on the image to be taken to KUHF’s site, where you can hear the broadcast. 
Comments are welcome.  To leave a comment or respond, please click below.

36 thoughts on “The “I”s Have It…

  1. “How can I” follow that?

    I have just listened to you reading your essay. It was wonderful, both the essay and your reading of it. You have a very expressive, melodic, tonal quality that I could listen to all day.

    Another beautifully constructed WP entry.


    I’m so glad you enjoyed it. The producer was kind enough to send along the produced mp3 a couple of weeks ago, so I was able to listen several times and get used to the sound of myself. I was happier with it than I thought I would be.

    The experience of recording was fun and interesting, and I wouldn’t mind doing it again some day. It’s a qualitatively different experience to speak my words, rather than just to write them. Maybe it’s time to hit the poetry reading circuit on the other side of the Lake!

    Thanks so much for stopping by, and for the comment. Glad to know that I don’t sound like nails on a chalkboard!


  2. That was lovely to listen to, Linda. You have a voice that comes across clearly and convincingly on radio.


    There’s nothing in the world better than feedback from someone who knows what he’s talking about. Thanks for listening, and for the comment. I’m glad you enjoyed it.


  3. Wonderful – the essay, your reading of it, and this blog!

    The stories about your beloved professor are a bit startling to me. Although I agree strongly, I find that too often I fall into the current fashion of qualifying my opinions and thoughts. This is a much-needed reminder to express myself more clearly. I think it is precisely because you state your thoughts unapologetically that you leave us readers with a clear idea of your meaning. We can agree or disagree – but at least we know what you think!


    It’s worth remembering more than a few years separate that classroom from this computer. Some lessons take no time at all to absorb (“The spoons go here, and the forks there”) while others are more complicated and can take years to be incorporated fully into our lives.

    It’s also true I lived through those intervening years thinking of the good professor only occasionally. When I began to write, the process itself made the relevance of all those lessons obvious. Perhaps it’s only a variation on the old saying – when the student is ready, the teacher will appear!


  4. What makes this particularly good is that you seem to have firmly grasped your belief of “How Can I” as personal philosophy. The owning of your “I” as you put it makes this type of essay much more interesting.

    You have actually gotten me out of the sci-fi section and into this literature stuff once in awhile ;)


    From my first post, I knew I didn’t want to simply throw up quizzes and you-tubes and bits of salacious gossip and call it a blog. I really was interested in what could be done with the personal essay – not simply essays “about” me, but essays in which a variety of topics were examined in the light of my beliefs and experience.

    As they say, “So far, so good”. It’s been a lot of fun and worked rather well.

    Maybe you could think of it as “I-fi”!


  5. Well worth the waiting to hear. I enjoyed your voice with its tones and emphasis and the essay’s message is a take-with-me-everyday useful one.

    Wish I’d had a professor like that! Isn’t interesting (and disappointing) that when we look back at all those years of education only a handful of teachers stand out as making a genuine difference in our lives?


    Glad you enjoyed it – I certainly have! The most fun of all was having the owner of the boat I was working on yesterday turn on the radio’s outside speakers – we took a little break and listened to the actual broadcast from the upper deck, giggling a little about the amazing turns life can take.

    As for my professor, and teachers in general, I’ve been thinking about your comment. I’m still in touch with a handful of folks who studied under that same professor. Some of them consider him utterly pedestrian, slightly boring and mostly irrelevant to their lives. So the first truth is that not every teacher affects every student in the same way.

    Beyond that, look how long it took for me to really begin to appreciate those lessons he was trying to teach. In a world given to asking “what have you done for me lately?” and which considers long-term anything happening beyond, say, next Tuesday, waiting twenty years or longer for results seems laughable. But teachers, take heart! Seeds planted long, long ago can bear surprising fruit. It may just take some time.


  6. Hey Shores – Congratulations on your well-deserved honor. Charming voicing of your fine essay, n’ a nice look, too. Mike


    It was a fun project, from beginning to end. Glad you enjoyed it.


  7. How funny this life is. I came across that first O’Keefe quotation just last night and thought, “Well, that’s it. Exactly.” And here you are, extending and enriching it with your usual precision and grace, your own “clear and coherent I.”

    I love both essays, the recording (yes, you should go and give poetry readings across the lake!!), I even love the wild professor -now. Maybe. In college, he would have terrified me….but he and the understanding captain clearly gave you the courage of your convictions. The rest of us are better for it.



    Isn’t O’Keefe wonderful? I ‘ve always enjoyed her words as much as her painting.

    As for my professor – he didn’t exactly terrify anyone, even in those moments when he was glaring at us. But he astonished us, for sure. We never were entirely sure where he was going, but we knew he intended to drag us along with him.

    The only thing I’ll quibble with here is your comment that he and Captain Tom “gave me the courage of my convictions”. They gave me a starting point, the raw material, the suggestive phrases and lasting images – but what convictions I have I’ve earned with years of struggle through years of circumstance, both good and bad. When I met both of those men, over twenty years ago, I wasn’t at all the person I am now. It’s taken twenty years of becoming, one decision at a time, to reach this point, and I haven’t a clue where I’ll be in twenty more.

    I suppose that’s another of my convictions these days ~ that no one can “give” another person courage, or happiness, or success. All of those good things are there to be claimed, but we’re the ones responsible for staking that claim.

    As always, thanks for the visit!


  8. I’m going to leave a short comment before listening to you – and congratulations!

    I just want to say, your professor taught you about authority. I feel that has been my life’s journey, learning to be my own authority. What a gift you received!

    I’ll be back.


    Ah ~ and there’s a metaphor for what I was trying to say to ds, above. I certainly did receive a gift from the good professor, but it’s taken me those twenty years to unwrap, open and appreciate it.

    As for “authority”, you might get a smile out of this. One of the things I learned early on is that “purity of prose is to write one thing”. For the sake of this essay, I used only one expression of something he told us in a variety of ways. He also enjoyed saying, “Both salvation and good writing depend on the ability to say ‘I'”. His lecture on Adam, Eve and the snake in the Garden, and the results of their refusal to say “I”, is an absolute classic. Truth, freedom and necessity, the nature of creation and our place in it – pretty rich stuff for this kid from the cornfields!


  9. How satisfying to listen to your voice and your story. The question “How can I?” fits perfectly on the shelf in the row of books I’ve opened this week. Of course.

    As for letting the “I” have it, I grew up in a Baptist minister’s family, where “death to self” was my mother’s mantra. In that environment, understanding my self wasn’t easy. It’s taken years – well, decades – to realize that what I feel and what I want might be only slightly related to ego. I believe in a higher self, and when I turn to Her and ask, “What do you want?”, She is usually ready with an answer that rises above my circumstances.


    Ah, yes. I suspect we all have our stories. One of mine is from the decades of my thirties, when I was involved in a decision-making process and someone asked, “What do you want?” I didn’t have a clue, and my clueless-ness startled both of us. He said, “You might want to think about that.” (Insert next quarter decade here….)


  10. OMG, so many revelations as I read this entry. Funny how certain things resonate with readers and you never really know exactly what they will be, right?

    First, I love your professor. I had him, too. Not him, exactly. But the essence. And later, I was a teacher for awhile. I miss that. I miss teaching, the creative excitement. But it gets channeled elsewhere, so it’s cool. It’s just that one of the freedoms EVERYONE should be allowed to experience is that of the great teacher, the amazing professor, that person (other than one’s parents) who walks you to the door and opens it and says “Go. See.” And, you do. I may have to go do an essay in a minute on my fave teachers. Kind of a shout-out.

    Secondly, bravo on the “This I Believe” broadcast. Exciting! You are out there, you are doing it, you are making a difference. (OK, sorry, I just love to see writers and communicators “succeed” in their many various ways.) I’m going to the link now to listen!


    And those teachers and professors are even more important for the kids who don’t have parents or others around them who are willing to open the door and say, “Go. See.” I grew up with one “Go, see” parent and one “Shut-the-door-and-come-in-here-it’s-scary-out-there” parent. There was a lot of internal conflict until I finally found some people (including said professor) who obviously came down on the “go-see” side of things and gave that word of permission to… well, get going. Tipped the balance, as it were.

    As strange as it may sound, one of the things I love about blogging is the presence of that same creative tension and excitement. When I publish something, I’m essentially saying, “Here. What do you think about this?” And when someone really responds, and the conversation starts, it’s just great. Stem the twitter-tide, that’s my mantra!

    And oh, by the way ~ I surely have appreciated your encouragement along this little way I’m on!


  11. Linda,

    Reading this post and listening to your reading is a humbling experience. I must admit that’s a feeling I wasn’t expecting, but I did feel that way. You’ve broken down barriers to expose the “I”, not just in the content but the process as well.

    When I had my academic training in sociology way back in the 70’s, I was told to muffle the “I” in my writing. Subjectivity was frowned upon. In recent years I went back for more academic work, and I found the trend was reversed. The personal voice is important, and needs to be heard. I think that’s why blogging is so satisfying, because we can express the “I” in whatever way we wish.

    Thank you for sharing your “I”. Your voice is an inspiration.


    Your reference to content and process interests me. Somewhere in this essay I edited out the phrase “process and product”. (I used it in regard to writing – how funny that I can’t go back now and find its original location.)

    In any event, I’m thinking about your posts on “slow blogging”, and wondering if the whole point of the slow blogging movement isn’t to allow more time and space for process. After all, a can of vegetable soup from the pantry will assuage those lunchtime hunger pangs, but a pot of soup that’s been simmering on the back burner for a couple of days feeds body and spirit alike, filling the house with aroma as surely as it fills the stomach. Soup isn’t always just soup, and it’s the process that makes the difference.

    I’m certainly looking forward to sharing this next year of “process” with you!


  12. Congratulations, Linda – well deserved. I shall listen to the broadcast when I have quiet time this afternoon.

    I, too, was raised to avoid using “I” – it was much too selfish to be thinking about self all the time, especially for females!

    Your professor said, “Being willing to say “I” means being willing to take responsibility for your vision, your words and your life.” I love that concept of taking responsibility!

    I have a psycho-therapist friend who taught me it is so much better to say “I feel this” instead of “You did that!” I rules in every way.

    It has been so pleasurable reading your posts – you really do put yourself out there, fearlessly, and your writings are much appreciated!

    Happy Spring :)


    I smiled to see your post here. You just wrote your own wonderful entry about a woman not afraid to say “I” – the irrepressible Gráinne Ní Mháille, or Grace O’Malley, the pirate queen of Connaught. The one aspect of self-development that hasn’t been discussed here is the role of physical courage for women, and Grace had that in abundance, not to mention her willingness to take responsibility for her vision and her life. One of these days, when I run out of other topics, there are my own sea-stories to be told, including a wonderful variation on the theme “if you ain’t been aground, you ain’t been anywhere”!

    So thanks for your comments, and your inspiration, and the richness of your vision. And best of all – I see that it’s your Blogaversary today! Congratulations to you ~ here’s to another year filled with visions and words.


  13. Oh, my. This hits me in such a deeply personal way. For many years – oh, so many – saying “I” too often was arrogant, presumptuous, simply not done. Even in all those management communication workshops – “Think YOU, not I” – and that does make sense, and I don’t disagree – but sometimes you can just go too far.

    When I’m writing press releases, corporate stuff, it’s always a third-tense. And I suppose that’s often necessary and even appropriate. But when it sinks into the common vernacular, your own conversations — well, that’s where “I” should be. I loved this sentence:

    “…weasel words, cowardice dressed up as ambiguity, escape hatches for people unwilling to stand for their convictions.”

    So “I” say “Bravo, my friend. For observing something so important, for bringing it to my attention (and others) and doing it so well. How I wish I’d had that professor of yours…

    Now, about your essay — I loved my “sneak preview” and it stands up just beautifully as I listen again!


    Such a delight to see you typing along in my little blog! I’ve popped in to check, and it appears your recovery from surgery is coming along quite well. I’m so glad.

    In a way, this is the same discussion that popped up when I wrote my post about bigger words and longer sentences. Of course there is a time and place for clear, concise – perhaps even spare – writing, just as there is a time for third-person objectivity. The trick is sorting out what’s needed, useful, and appropriate.

    For those of us who are fascinated by the possibilities inherent in personal essays, one of the most interesting questions is the nature of the “personal” itself. If personal is defined solely as focus on self, then of course it often isn’t appropriate. But if personal refers in a larger sense to passion, involvement in and commitment to the subject at hand, a willingness to make judgements and take a position, then the realm of the personal expands considerably.

    And here’s something to think about. It just occurred to me today. Remember Helen Reddy, and her song, “I am Woman”? It was released when I was still overseas, and by the time I returned, it already was on its way to becoming a bit of a joke, judged half mediocre pop music and half feminist screed. And yet, there was something in the song that caught me, and many of my friends. Just now, I’m wondering – is it possible that nearly all of us have misunderstood that song’s power by focusing on the “woman” in the title. Could it be that the “I” is the critical word, and that Reddy (perhaps all unknowing) captured the moment when an entire generation of women were just coming to grips with the meaning of that word?

    There’s one version on youtube, which you can find here, that uses the words of the song as background for a documentary about a woman writer. It’s worth viewing, and it’s rather more powerful than I expected.

    Thanks so much for stopping by – good to see you out and about!


  14. What a lovely post.

    And I love this quote by your teacher. “Being willing to say “I” means being willing to take responsibility for your vision, your words and your life.”

    Very true.


    How kind of you to stop by and share your response. There’s so much wisdom in those few words – they’re some of my favorites, that’s for sure!

    Please do stop by anytime. You’re always welcome.


  15. Hmmm… When I said, “he and the understanding captain clearly gave you the courage of your convictions”, that was a poor choice of phrase (read: cliche). The convictions are absolutely yours–earned, grabbed, wrested from whatever circumstances developed them,and they ring bell clear. The courage is yours as well. I am sorry if what I wrote in any way implied otherwise.

    Hi, ds,

    My goodness. No apology necessary. I probably reacted a little strongly because I’ve spent so much time recently thinking about these issues.

    The questions are so simple, and the answers are so complex: where do we find courage? How do we attain happiness? How do we balance the demands of self and others? The only thing I’m absolutely certain of is that finding the answers is a life-long process, and the only thing that really changes is the nature of the circumstances that give rise to the questions.

    Well, and I do suspect that Annie Dillard was right. She was the one who said, “You can’t test courage cautiously”!


  16. I can completely relate. “I” was a bad word when I was growing up too. There was an understanding that it represented pride and egotism.

    This was a lovely tribute to your teacher. How fortunate for you to find such guidance early in life. I can’t tell you how sorry I am that I missed your NPR reading, but I know the quality of your work. I’m sure it was wonderful.


    I’ve mentioned in other places how much I wish I could tell that professor of his influence on me. Lacking that opportunity, it’s satisfying to share some of his insights with others. I already know he’s going to show up at least one more time, along with Captain Ahab and the American political class ;-) But that’s still percolating….

    It’s so nice to see you, and know you got both “home” and “home again” safely.


  17. Thank you for the email, Linda. I enjoyed your essay and your reading voice. I’m not sure why, but it reminded me of listening to a novel by Ann River Siddons, Colony.


    I’d never heard of Ann River Siddons, but one peek into the first biographical sketch I ran across through Google made it clear this is someone I might find congenial. When I think of my favorite writers, I find a pattern: Faulkner, O’Connor, Welty, Wendell Berry. Hmmmmm…. Siddons should fit right in.

    To put it in ridiculously simple terms, I spent the first thirty years of my life reading, the next thirty doing, and now I’m entering what I hope will be another thirty thinking and writing. One practical consequence is that I’m blissfully ignorant of a lot of writing and writers – there are wonderful discoveries everywhere. Thanks for bringing me one!


  18. I will be reading this piece several times over and I suspect with increased gratitude.

    I know that too often my efforts to avoid using the word “I” leave me feeling dishonest. However, saying that I feel, see, believe, need, think, want or know something is to acknowledge that I exist as a sentient being who is responsible for what I do. Thanks for the reminder.

    Congratulations on your appearance on “This I believe.” My wife and I both listened together.


    The radio experience was such fun. The most interesting detail for me lay in the producer’s introduction to the piece, when he referred to essays being “written and voiced by fellow Houstonians”. I don’t remember hearing “voiced” used as a verb before, but it’s particularly appropriate here, especially since writers do struggle and worry so about finding their “voice”. I’m glad you and your wife enjoyed it.

    The issues that swirl around “I” and honesty have such consequences for life, and they’re deeply rooted. Writing this piece, I remembered my first conscious recognition that conflicts lay on the horizon. I was quite young, but old enough to be taken to restaurants. One night, someone asked, “What would you like to eat tonight?” I don’t remember what I found appealing at the time, but I remember saying, “I want (whatever).” The adult next to me said, “Oh, no. You wouldn’t like that. We’ll get you (something else) instead.” And so it begins….

    The truth, of course, is that you won’t be the only one re-reading this. Some lessons need to be re-claimed over and over.


  19. When you say Yes you take the responsibility and ownership. When you say No you have already given up. So it’s always more courageous to say Yes and those who have said it are ones who have inspired others.

    It’s important to own up by saying “I”. When you do you will suddenly find there were many others who just wanted someone to stand up. We have a saying in Urdu :

    I started on my own, kept meeting people.
    That’s how this caravan was formed.

    I can see your caravan is taking its shape.
    Keep it up !


    Your Urdu saying brought tears to my eyes – it is so beautiful, so perfect. Thank you so much for bringing it here.

    I have a habit of keeping little snippets of wisdom taped to my computer monitor. I change them from time to time, putting the ones I take down into an envelope where I can browse through them. My current snippets are headed for the envelope, and your saying is going to replace them. The image of the caravan is full of mystery and promise, and a reminder that the journey is for anyone who wants to join.


  20. I found this fascinating. It’s funny, you know. I’m a creative writer at heart, but I’m also in grad school working on my master’s in professional counseling, and the writing is predominantly technical. “I” is so frowned upon in academic writing; on top of that I’m actually a tutor for grad level writing, so it’s like a battle within me as I write.

    Truthfully though, I think the hallmark of a good writer is that it is their own writing and voice regardless of their “I” tag. You can take words and use them in such a way that your identity shines through.


    I haven’t kept up with developments in the fields of social work and psychology, but there’s no doubt early pressures to maintain objectivity and detachment were related to the professions’ desire to be considered “serious”, i.e., scientific. I suspect that pressure has eased a bit.

    I agree completely with your point about the importance of voice. My memory is terrible – but I think I mentioned somewhere in the comments that the personal essay needn’t be about my life, just as it need not be filled with “I”. It’s the consonance between a writer’s words and their most cherished convictions and beliefs that makes the difference, no matter the subject.

    Thanks so much for visiting, and for the comment. It’s been a particularly interesting discussion, with so many points of view!


  21. Linda,

    I am glad you liked the couplet.I have translated lots of urdu poetry on my blog
    The interesting bit is that we use the same theme so sometimes I get confused its your blog or mine.


    i enjoyed looking at your site. The Quentin theme is a lovely one – I’ve noticed that many writers and poets use it. I suspect that it’s unusual enough to attract attention in the blog surfing engines, too.

    Again, thanks for stopping by.


  22. It took me entirely too long to find out where I was supposed to leave a comment! I’m trying not to be too embarassed about that.

    I haven’t read all of your entries just yet, but I definitely have enjoyed virtually everything I’ve read. I just started my own writing blog a few days ago and I spent a few hours trying to get the page to reflect my ideas. When you mentioned: ‘”Like many new bloggers, I was consumed with anxiety when I posted my first, tentative essays on WordPress. “Will people like them?”, I wondered. “Will anyone take time to read them?” “How will I ever know?”’ I found myself nodding…a lot. That’s exactly what I was thinking–and while I’ve been blogging for ages in one form of another, my writing is probably the most…naked of them all. I think it’s because it’s a part of yourself–your creative self that you’re putting out there and you desperately want people to like it.

    It’s strange, but even as the few days roll by, I suppose it doesn’t matter that much anymore. I’d like to think I’m too old to worry about it–but I still do.

    That was a really great post and I’ll definitely be adding you to my blog list!

    Sun Up,

    Oh, that comment business is a problem. The template doesn’t make it at all clear where to put comments – that’s why I added the small note at the bottom to help people figure it out. When I started the blog I intended to learn enough CSS to get that tidied up, but so far just writing entries has taken up the bulk of my time. No need for embarassment on your part, that’s for sure.

    I think the most basic question for any of us in the beginning is, “What am I willing to do to be noticed and read?” I made an early decision that I was going to use a blog platform for writing, and I rejected suggestions that I include quizzes, personality tests, photos of half-naked people, or entries tied to hot celebrity gossip. None of that is wrong, it just wasn’t what I wanted to do. I wrote what I liked, and then hoped others would care about it, too. It was a long first six months, but today I’m happy I chose as I did.

    One of the things I’ve learned during this year is that there’s a vast difference between worrying and caring. These days, I don’t worry at all about people’s response, but I care a good deal more.

    I’m glad you stopped by, and I’m happy you enjoyed the read. Good luck with your new blog – let me know the link.


  23. I just realized that I left the wrong website address…and I wanted to correct that, forgive my spamming. My fingers move faster than my brain apparently!

    Sun Up,

    I’m glad you did update it – and I love that quotation from Emerson. Good luck with your writing!


  24. What a lovely blog entry. You describe your teacher with such love and respect.

    In Sweden (and in the other Scandinavian countries) we have our Jante Law ( deeply rooted. I wish I had had a teacher like that at school.

    “I” also mean to stand for my own opinions. Thank you for reminding me about that.

    Thank you for shareing the link to the radio broadcast. You have a nice voice.


    He was a good teacher, and a good man. I owe him as much as any teacher I ever had.

    I was amazed by the Jante Law – although I must say, we have some of that thinking here, too.

    It was fun sharing the broadcast, and a nice way to let people get to “know” me just a bit better.


  25. “If you had to wear a scarlet letter, which one would it be?” Now that is a fabulous question.


    Isn’t it, though? I’ve spent a good bit of time pondering that one. As with so many good questions, the answer’s never a constant.


  26. I want to come back and read all of this, but right now my attention span is kinda short. I found you on AlphaInventions and when I saw the art work and then Georgia O’Keefe’s name I had to pause this thing. I collected that very quote of hers out of the phone book and have it hanging on my earring holder-hoop. She was so against too much attention.

    peace n abundance,



    I so appreciate Ms. O’Keefe’s work I do the same thing – pause whenever I bump up against her words or her art. I made a trip out to Abiquiu once, and still have one of those red rocks. I stayed out of Santa Fe – kept to the hills. I did visit Ghost Ranch, though, and Taos and Chimayo. Wonderful country.

    I like your greeting – peace and abundance. I’ve never seen it before. It’s worth thinking about.

    Thanks so much for stopping by!


  27. Linda,

    It took me over a year to get here to this story… but for some reason, this time while I was in your Word Press, I saw off the the right that list of words… and I clicked on Georgia O’Keefe…and it brought me to this story which I really enjoyed… and learned from… I have always been told “There is no “i” in TEAM”….etc.etc.etc…”I” was always a bad word…
    I agree with your Professor’s take much better.

    Then, I clicked on the audio of you telling your story…and loved the sounds of your voice and your sailing story.

    I may have to “click” on some of the others I never got to read last year. So happy they are all here for safe keeping!



    Yep ~ this is my little treasure vault. Do you know, I’ve been at this long enough now that I come around from time to time and re-read some of these posts myself! I tend to forget what I’ve written, as once something gets posted I’m moving on to the next entry. My next big project is getting all of them into text files and hard copy. Mom doesn’t like reading on the computer, so I’m going to put them all together in a “book” for her for Christmas. And it’s not a bad thing you have them printed out, anyway. Servers are known to crash and lose data ;-)

    I’m so glad you enjoyed this one. You have to be able to say “I” to be able to create. When you paint, you’re saying “This is how I see the world”. And that’s good – no one else sees it quite like you do!


  28. Is this it? Is this the post you alluded to in the comment on my post this week? I clicked on your category “Sailing” and was drawn to this one. Funny the connections words make. When I clicked on this I didn’t know if this was the essay I was looking for, but the title “The I’s Have It” unlocked the same thoughts I have had about overusing the word I. You stated the defense of using I so clearly. Oh, I got so much out of it.

    And, then by clicking on the radio broadcast, I listened to your essay. And, to my amazement…I said to myself…this is it! Perhaps it was the connections I can make between “I” and “aye, aye, captain”. Who can explain, that I found this so quickly.? I reserved this morning to look for a “needle in a haystack” as your archives are deep. But because I have more time on Tuesday mornings, I wanted to search…and to have found it so quickly and to have read the answer to your view of using “I” leaves me astonished! That does it…in just two clicks, I am drawn to your messages and how artfully, purposefully and clearly you write.

    I love your voice by the way, and you remind me in appearance and voice of a friend I had growing up in Tyler. She was an English major from TCU. Many years later when we met up again in their new home in San Diego, she encouraged me, “Keep writing.” and she even shared some cherished unpublished pieces.
    Anyway, thank you again for visiting last Sunday. I especially like this line from your broadcast essay regarding sailing, ”the joy of confidence and the discipline of the seas…”

    1. My goodness! we were cross-posting this morning! And what a connection between “aye” and “I”. This is a fun world, for sure.

      The professor I mentioned surely shaped me as much as any teacher I’ve had before or since – with the possible exception of Captain Tom. Of course, Tom turned me into a sailor, and the professor is turning me into a writer – even now, and long after his death.

      I loved the experience with NPR. The joke in our family used to be that I couldn’t read a recipe aloud in front of the relatives. To move from that to real comfort – and enjoyment! – of public speaking was quite an adventure. I do think I prefer a live audience, just because there’s a more personal connection, and an ability to judge reaction. But of course, you understand that from your teaching.

      I have a great deal of affection for Tyler – particularly the La Quinta. Mom, my kitty and I rode out Hurricane Ike there. Then, I took Mom to her sister’s in Kansas City, before returning home to sort things out. What’s amazing is that I have no memory of what I did with Dixie Rose during that trip to KC. I surely didn’t leave her in the motel room by herself… But I don’t remember taking her with us.
      Strange, how details of what we do in the midst of stress can just disappear.

      Anyhow, I’m glad you found the piece for yourself, and I’m so glad you enjoyed both my “I” musings and the broadcast. I enjoyed reading it again myself – there are lessons in life that need to be relearned.


  29. The internet went down this morning, and I read this while having a leisurely lunch at a restaurant in town.. very nice, though it brought up new feedback concerning art,, as the moments when art seems to be its most ‘magical’ is when it just happens as if painted while in a trance… or like having a lucid dream, you ‘awaken’ and look at the art and think,’I painted that?”

    .will let it incubate a bit….

    not sure if the internet will be back on tonight… things are still ‘touch and go’ with progress…

    1. Perhaps that’s why you’re an artist, and I’m not! The thought of writing “in a trance” doesn’t seem wise to me. Who knows what I would produce?

      The closest experience I’ve had would be my etherees, which generally come to me as a single line or a combination of words, and which finish fairly quickly — a few days at the longest. I don’t wrestle with them, precisely — they just seem to emerge.

      But I don’t see any conflict between what you describe, and my own conviction that a healthy ego is important for any artist: be it writer, painter, photographer. That’s what underlies our ability to persist, to deal with criticism, to be true to our vision.

      Anyway: it’s fun to think about. One of the things I enjoy about disagreements and different views is that they help me clarify my own convictions!

  30. I forgot to mention that I read it ‘offline’ – nice, and I look forward to hearing the broadcast..

    Am now at a friends, and she’s printing out a driver’s license study guide for me.. talk about stretching the brain – wow! all of those technical questions in spanish about things like, ‘what’s the fine for blood alcohol level x%, etc etc!

        1. Well, shoot. I got all the way to question 11 and there weren’t any more questions. I was curious to see how well I’d done on the test, not speaking Spanish and all. I could figure out three or four for certain. The rest? Who knows? Multiple choice always is good, though. The phrase “fighting chance” comes to mind!

          1. it kept going to ’20’ for me.. the sign tests are pretty easy to figure out, but the ones about drinking or frenos, etc were the challenging ones.. when you reach ‘2o’ it then gives your score and shows which were right and which were wrong, so with practice, you will eventually be able to pass! I think there are over 300 questions!

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