I was delighted when Lorna, a humorist who blogs at Lorna’s Voice, http://lornasvoice.wordpress.com/ turned up as the 7000th comment on my blog. As some of you will recall, I like to do an interview with whomever posts a 1000th comment.
Lorna is a writer of prose. Her blog is the place to go if you are in need of a laugh or light heart. If you take a moment to puruse her site, you will learn that Lorna is a woman of courage and depth and that humor is a tool she has turned to to help her meet the many challenges of life on this earth.
I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I have and that you will take a few moments to get to know her and her writing better.
1. You tell us that humor has helped you deal with the challenges that life has tossed your way. Would you comment on when you first learned this helpful coping technique and how it has helped you evolve as a whole person?
On 11/9/01, something happened in my brain and I became the quintessential “dizzy blonde.” It was as if motion-sensor switch got stuck permanently on or off and I couldn’t get rid of the sensation that either the room was spinning or I was. After ruling out every possible cause for this invisible but very real symptom, two diagnoses changed my life: a CT scan found a brain “lesion” in my left temporal lobe and I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (even though I was dizzy, not tired). I was also frightened. The doctors decided just to watch the lesion to see what it would do (like I was one of the Real Sick Housewives of the North East) and there was nothing that could be done for CFS but wait and see if it went away.
I needed some serious uplifting. Certain stories about my childhood always got a laugh when I told them because I was an expert at self-deprecation. I decided to write these stories down for two reasons: 1. writing about times when I was healthy distracted me from thinking about my unhealthy self; and 2. the stories would serve as my legacy to be read by my loved ones after I died from the bloody brain tumor the doctors were watching for the fun of it.
NOTE: After two years of watching, the doctors decided it might be cancerous enough to remove and I had brain surgery. All is well with my brain—the part of it that remains, that is. And, nearly 10 years later, I’ve learned to live with being a dizzy blonde, although 5 years ago I retired on a disability from my career as a college professor because fatigue and other autoimmune bug-a-boos made being an articulate speaker very difficult.
2. I love the story of your spiritual journey: “Good Catholic girl becomes Imperfect Buddhist.” What has Buddhism brought to your writing life?
Buddhism saved my life by shifting my perspective about me and others. Being a practicing Buddhist means being aware or “in the present moment” as much I can. I believe that a good writer is one who is aware of the world around her, both the internal world of “self” and the external world of others (people, nature, structures/systems). Keen observation is the genesis of keen writing. Buddhism taught me to be a much more observant person—more self-aware and more aware of what is happening around me each moment.
3. You write prose. Have you ever tried or been tempted to try poetry? If so, what was it like for you? How do you think poetry and prose influence one another?
As a teenager, I lived and breathed poetry. I was in love with the evocative quality of the rhythm and flow of carefully chosen words that had such mystical power when strung together. I just wasn’t very good at it. My favorite poem is Edgar Allen Poe’s “Annabelle Lee.” The lyrical quality is genius.
Free form poetry is closer to prose. I think poets choose their words more carefully than prose writers do—although I edit my prose so many times (and suspect other prose writers do, too, that this may not be a fair statement). Some prose (or lines of it) read like poetry to me—when the words create such vivid images or evoke raw emotions. I think the lines blur between these two forms more often than not with modern poetry and well-written prose.
4. Your education and work experience is in sociology. You also speak of dealing with chronic illness. How have these two aspects of your life affected your writing?
As a sociologist, I was trained to be an observer of human social behavior and be very organized about it. Both skills come in handy when I write about life and do so in a light-hearted way. Humans (including me) are funny, especially when they take themselves so seriously. My illness has given me time to pursue creative (rather than scholarly) writing and a perceptual shift—life should be celebrated, no matter what happens to you. The reason I’m telling my life story is that I hope to inspire others not to let their personal challenges defeat them, but rather prove to them that they have a choice in how they can shape their lives: as victims or as victors.
5. Do you have a writing routine?
I didn’t have a routine until I discovered blogging this past June (although I’ve been working on my stories on and off for almost 10 years). I false-started on my memoir more times than there are calories in an Iced Venti White Chocolate Mocha from Starbucks with no whip cream, nonfat milk, and only 3 pumps of white chocolate mocha (approximately 385). Then I read a book about how to get your personal essays published by Dinty Moore. In it, he suggested social networking, blogging, and WordPress. Lorna’s Voice was born and the rest is history. I write/rewrite every day for about 3 hours and read/comment for about 2. For a brief discussion of my entry into the blog-o-shere, see a guest blog I did: http://derekberry.wordpress.com/2011/07/18/guest-blog-i-blog-therefore-i-am-not-talking-to-myself/
6. Where do you find inspiration?
My own life, past and present, is where I get most of my material. I change or disguise all names except for people whose permission I get to talk about openly, so as to protect the guilty. Once in a while I find something too juicy on the internet in terms of weird news to pass up and I write about that.
7. How do you spend your time when you’re not writing? What do you do to feed your muse?
I spend time with Scrappy, my cute little dog. I dance and sing—both inside and outside my home. I used to create pieces of art with fabric, but since blogging came into my life, I’ve begun introducing myself as a writer rather than a fabric artist. I haven’t figured out how to do both yet and get 6 hours of sleep. I also am living with the love of my life—a man who loves me for who I am, rather than who I could or should be. He keeps me delightfully distracted, or should I say, focused on things other than writing…
8. Would you point first time visitors to a post on your blog, one that you are most excited about, one that gives them a glimpse of Lorna?
Oh, no, a “Sophie’s Choice” question! I wrote a piece for a guest blog. I thought it was funny and spoke quite well to how and why I got into blogging, but I think it was overlooked. So I just reposted it on my blog (with a few tweaks). The address is: http://lornasvoice.wordpress.com/2011/09/29/i-blog-therefore-i-am-no-longer-talking-to-myself/
Of course, by the time you post this interview, it may have gotten the attention I think it deserves, so here’s my back-up post. It’s about the infamous “Infomercial” http://lornasvoice.wordpress.com/2011/06/26/and-now-a-brief-word-from-our-sponsor/
9. Pretend you are a writing guru. Give one piece of advice to your “followers” that you feel is invaluable.
William W. Purkey said, “You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching, love like you’ll never be hurt, sing like there’s nobody listening, and live like it’s heaven on earth.” I would add to that, write like there’s somebody aching to read it, because there is.
Thank you so much, Lorna. It’s been a delight to feature you.
As an aside, I’m still having problems with commenting on Blogger…even when I try to do it through my Google blog. Sorry for this, my blogger friends.