Square Peg, Round Hole

I don’t know about other bloggers, but I tend to think about my blog posts for a while before I actually write them.  I select a topic that happens to interest me, and then I think of what, exactly, I’d like to say about that topic, and even compose a few sentences in my head before I ever sit down in front of the computer.  If I’m lucky, the writing process is smooth and quick, and I hammer out my usual 500 to 700 word post without too much effort or angst.

But there are the times when I just can’t get it right, and when I rewrite the opening paragraphs several times, only to find that I have written myself right into a corner each time.  Sometimes I actually have to get up and walk away from my computer for a little while, and then come back and look at my draft with fresh eyes.  And when I do that, I almost always realize that the problem is that one of the sentences or ideas I came up with I came up with when I was thinking about the post just didn’t fit when I was actually writing the post, even though I kept putting it into each and every draft.  Unfortunately, I had liked that particular string of words so much (it was clever, darn it!) that I was blind to the fact that it needed to be cut.  I can be stubborn that way.

Sadly, that stubbornness isn’t limited to my writing.  I like to meet new people, try new things, and despite being a fiercely independent person, join new groups.  And that’s usually a good thing, as it has exposed me to lots of new ideas, some dear friends and some worthy causes. But there are times when as I get to know a person better, I realize that we  have very little in common and have some totally incompatible values.  Or that I didn’t like a particular activity nearly as much as I thought I would, or that despite my best efforts, I simply don’t fit into a particular group or organization.  And that’s when most people would immediately back off, but all too often, I hang in there, just sure that if I try a little bit harder, everything will work out.  I guess I’m afraid of being a quitter, or admitting that I can’t really be all things to all people.

When I was in college, most of my friends pledged a sorority, so despite my considerable misgivings, I decided to join one too.  I lasted only three months.  Not because I had joined the wrong sorority…it was a perfectly good one, with lots of nice women….but because I’m far too much of an individualist to be the right person for any sorority.  Luckily, that was one time when I recognized my mistake early on and addressed it quickly. Everyone was quite nice about it, and even though I quit the sorority, I remained friends with several of its members.   If I had tried to stick with it, skipping meetings, complaining,  and ignoring rules I didn’t like, I probably would have managed to alienate all the members.

And that’s something I need to remember all these years later when I find myself being stubborn about trying to stick with something that just isn’t right for me.  No matter how hard I try, not everyone is going to like me.  And despite my best efforts, I’m not going to be an effective and helpful member of every new group I try.  And that’s okay.  Because no one fits in everywhere, but everyone fits in somewhere.

48 thoughts on “Square Peg, Round Hole

  1. I can relate to all the problems you described in your post. Even when I am done with the draft and press the publish button, I catch myself reading my post over looking for ways of improving it. As you can see, I am a perfectionist. But I also admire bloggers, who sit down at the computer, type up their post and publish it all within one hour or less. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I think the older we get, Ann, the less tolerance we have for forcing ourselves to stick with things that don’t feel right. And I’ve heard it said that when you realize you’ve made a mistake, it’s better to rectify it sooner than later. As for blogging, I feel like sticking to a schedule forces you to write something, even if you don’t feel like it or it’s the worse garbage ever written. Eventually, through revising, it gets better. I always enjoy your blog, no matter what it took you to get it out 🙂

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    • Thanks, Kim! I always enjoy yours as well. And that’s exactly why I have a schedule: it forces me to keep writing this blog, which I really enjoy doing. Some days it feels like work, but I do it anyway, because everything that is worthwhile is sometimes difficult. The perks are the satisfaction of writing, and the great people and wonderful blogs I’ve encountered along the way. Thanks for being one of those people, and one of those blogs!

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  3. An enjoyable post, and I can relate to the occasional disconnect between the thought and the written word and how perplexing that can be. It can be difficult at times to ‘kill your darlings’, to cut out the phrasing or imagery that had seemed so clear and right before you sat down to record it. I can also relate to being a stayer, and it seems to have taken quite some time to be able to recognise what is no longer working for me and to take the steps necessary to move on. Your title perfectly summed up the post, and from the comments it’s clear that there are a few of us out there who feel this way! Thanks for making me think 😊.

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    • You are so welcome! This is something I am still working on, and for some reason, I can see it more clearly in my writing (that something is not working or doesn’t fit in) than I can in the rest of my life. I guess because the focus is more narrow in writing? But for whatever the reason, I have to keep reminding myself that I really don’t fit in everywhere, and that is perfectly okay. It’s good to know others struggle with the same concept, that gives me more hope! Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Ann.

    I’ve found the less I allow myself to think of it as writing the better. I type mine in Word first – lost too many hours’ work by trusting WordPress to save – telling myself I’m just the teenager I used to be writing a long, rambling letter to a friend; a friend who isn’t bothered about about my English or whether I get everything in the right order. I no longer have such friends to write to (people don’t even reply to letters nowadays) so it’s kind of like being able to breathe again.

    I do edit a bit as I write, and sometimes I delete the first paragraph or two since that’s where most of the ‘shapelessness’ tends to accumulate. I try to prune the beginning back to the first amusing or eye-catching sentence so as to begin with something catchy, but it doesn’t always work. Then I paste it in, tiddle around with it a little more, take a deep breath – what’s the worst that can happen? – and Publish.

    I think maybe we were both brought up in a time before computers/blogs when school essays etc., had to be perfect or you would get red-ink corrections and bad marks. But now there are only readers who may be interested in the story you want to tell, the thoughts you want to express – or not – but if not, apart from lower than usual stats, you won’t know.

    Of course, as soon as Publish has been pressed, mistakes start floating to the surface like so many little dead fish and I have to go back in and correct them. I tell myself this is WordPress’s fault, not mine. It takes it upon itself to miss words out or substitute them, by some fiendish predictive texting process, with entirely different ones! : ) : )

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    • Yes, I think I still tend to think of my blog posts as essays, and work to make sure they have the flow of an essay and are as grammatically correct as possible. But as you point out, no one is really judging them, and certainly no one is grading them, so I think I need to “let it flow” a bit more. Like you, I do most of my editing while I’m writing, but sometimes I do have to walk away and come back before I can continue. And why is it we never see mistakes until AFTER we hit publish? I like to think you are right about WordPress messing with our posts…it couldn’t possibly be us, could it?
      I do want to let you know how very much I enjoy your blog. Your posts are diverse (which is a good thing) but the quality of your writing is consistently good. Keep writing, my friend!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. In the past, I stuck with things solely for the benefit of sticking with things. Now, I am too old for that, yet I find that the older I get the more I stick to the same things – whether they work for me or not. Odd how life works.

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    • Life is a complex and winding road, in my opinion. Sometimes we trade in one bad habit for another, I think. I used to stick with things just out of fear of being called a quitter, or thinking that I wasn’t good enough in some way. Now I think I’m just lazy sometimes and can’t be bothered to make a change, even when a change is desperately needed!

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  6. I don’t know if you find it true for yourself, Ann, but the older I get the more I realise that everything’s provisional. In other words, there’s an acknowledgment of a kind of ‘best fit’ for things I take in and embrace intellectually at any given moment, but which themselves are likely not to be any ‘best fit’ further into the future. For many years now I’ve considered myself a relativist in this and other regards, and I rather appreciate the freedom that attitude has come to give me. Am I making any sense here? o_O

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    • Yes, you are, if I’m understanding your correctly. I think what fits at one phase of our life doesn’t always fit at another, because we’re constantly changing ourselves. I don’t know about you, but I’m certainly not the same person I was thirty, twenty or even ten years ago. And yet sometimes I’m still trying to stick to old habits and patterns that just don’t work anymore. I think there’s a lot in our lives that is relative, if we’re honest enough to see it. Thanks for the comment, Hariod! You always make me think.

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  7. I think life is journey in determining who we are & we aren’t. It takes us a very long time to realize we just need to be the person who we are, rather than who everyone else tells us we need to be. There are times certainly, when we need to try new things & step out of our comfort zone so to speak, but following our hearts in what we need to be content & happy are key in my books.

    In terms of the writing, I think you are in good company Ann. There are posts that just seem to flow naturally & then there are those that challenge us in getting our thoughts across. I suppose each offers us a lesson in life!

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    • Sometimes it is hard to separate who we really are from who we think we are, based on the input from other people. But you are right, we have to listen to our own voices and follow our own heart in the end, because know one else knows us as well as we know ourselves. And even that self-knowledge is constantly evolving!
      Isn’t it odd how some posts just seem to write themselves and other make us fight for each sentence? And yet the results of both can be equally good or bad! Thanks for your perspective!

      Like

    • That’s something it’s taken me a long time to learn, and I’m still working on it. But the older I get, the more I have learned to trust my own instincts about what feels right and what doesn’t. Thanks, Svet!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Sadly, I think there are people who feel as if they fit in nowhere, which must cause tremendous feelings of isolation. I think that’s one of the reasons why it’s always good to be open to new people and new experiences, because sometimes it takes a while to find that place where we feel that we belong. Life can be hard, as we all know. Personally, all I can think of to do is to try to find room for one more when any new person approaches a group I belong to. Who knows? This might be just the community they desperately need.

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  8. and sometimes there are seasons where our peg fits for a while, and then, after a period, it doesn’t – and that’s ok – we move on – grow – change – mature – develop……… Life is so full of so many things to explore – it’s ok! And I ALWAYS enjoy your posts. You are a wonderful writer! Love the last line….. “no one fits in everywhere, but everyone fits in somewhere.” So profound. So much truth and hope and light! Keep on keeping on Ann – just the way you are! 🙂

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    • Thank you Jodi! And you are so right, what fits us in one phase of our life doesn’t always fit in a later phase. I remember when I first joined a group of aspiring children’s book writers. I felt as if I had found a group where I truly belonged. But I haven’t written a new children’s book in years, so I wouldn’t feel that way if I found such a group today. We change, and that really is okay. And there will always be another group that we can relate to, if only we stay open to that possibility!

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  9. Don’t know how I missed this post Ann, I guess life has a tendency to get away from us! This was such a truthful honest post that resonated with me deeply. Sometimes I start writing with only an inkling of an idea, often based on a photo challenge and it just sort of evolves from there. Which is a bit indicative of my life these last few years. Always changing, never staying still and full of challenges.
    Your blog is such a thoughtful read Ann and I can always relate to your words. Beautifully done yet again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank so much, Miriam! And I think that’s what’s fun about writing: it can be as structured or as unstructured as we want. Sometimes I write almost as if I’m turning in an essay and hoping for a good grade, but other times I do what you do and start out with an idea and see what evolves. But when I get “stuck” then I know I’ve taken a wrong turn somewhere, and when I figure out where, I have to toss that particular part!

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