24 October 2012

Molly Field Tells it Like it Is

Continuing the Peevish Penman contributor introductions, it's time to meet Molly Field, who's going to bring a great voice and plenty of verbal style to the blog once she gets started. Take it away, Molly!

1)     PPM: Let's talk about your blog, Grass Oil by Molly Field. It's an interesting mix of posts about yourself and what you're learning about yourself and also posts about your family and situations that arise from being the mother of three growing boys. What made you want to sit down and put this blog out there?

Molly: Thanks, it's a work in progress. It has been called "interesting" by many people who I think/suspect are uncomfortable with its direction, intention or need to somehow define it. I don't mean this to sound like a slam, but many posts have been thus termed "interesting" by my parents. That's usually when they disagree with my portrayal of an event. 

There was a moment, if you look at the firstpost back in January 2011, when I'd decided to just do this. I have spent many years trying to "figure out" life; trying to analyze and understand other peoples' motivations for why they do some of the screwed up and sort of nasty things they do. I became tired of that inquiry and decided that the only way I was going to be satisfied with *my* life was if I looked at myself. The blog's intention, really, was to chronicle my thoughts for my kids and to talk about parenthood and life's inconsistencies which are truly the only thing we can count on. I've made it quite clear to anyone who comes to the blog that you're not going to find anything specific -- this is truly a random collection of the thoughts I've deemed most appropriate for public consumption. 

Let's not lose our perspective here: there are 7 billion people on this planet. A vast majority are living in poverty and have no interest in establishing "getting online" as their modus operandi of life. They want safety, health, water, shelter and a steady life. Of those 7 billion people, 1 billon are "on" Facebook (that just implies registered users). I have no illusions that the 336 "fans" I have on my Grass Oil Facebook page and the 65 WordPress followers and my 295 personal "friends" on my personal wall and my 117 followers on Twitter amass to some galactic following. Given those statistics, I'm still feeling rather "protected" regarding the sentiment of my blog being "out there." There are still hundreds of so-called viral videos on YouTube that I haven't seen, and likely never will and I'm online almost every day. The beauty of all this is that we still get to shape life to our preferences, don't we? So we seek what we like and eschew what we don't.  

But to answer your question about "what made you want to" about the blog, I figured, "why not?" I've been to book stores and seen books about coffee tables and leaf collections and doilies and a history of shoes… and so I thought, "if these people can do this AND get it published AND sell it in a national retailer, why the hell can't I write about my life?" I have a philosophy: "You can't win if you don't play." So I'm playing. That in and of itself means to me sometimes, just by virtue of the fact that I'm enjoying it, that I'm winning.       

2)     PPM: Of all the topics you cover on your blog, what's your favorite?

Molly: “Mindfulness” and “humor” would be my favorite ersatz “topics,” but I don't have a "topic" I start from every day. “Life,” I suppose, is another favorite topic. People like to categorize life. Put it in little boxes that suggest (delude) that somehow it can be contained, predicted and rationalized. Life is random, uncontrollable and IN YOUR FACE. We can sit and ignore it and watch TV or we can dip our toe and really think about it… I prefer toe dipping.  

3)     PPM: You write about a lot of personal stories about your family and day-to-day life in a very unvarnished way. You obviously love and care for everyone around you, but is it ever difficult to write the post you want to write because you're afraid of hurt feelings?

Molly: Ha! I had to laugh at part of your supposition. I don't love and care for everyone around me. I care for my family, some really amazing friends that I've had the rare fortune of knowing most of my life and the benefits of writing a blog like mine where I'm occasionally unvarnished (if you only knew how varnished I am…) has yielded some very nice relationships with some incredibly good people. I was saying to someone the other day, when you open the blinds, you let the light in. When you open windows you let the air in. When you open doors, you sometimes let the crazy in, but you also let yourself out too. There are some people I'd wish I'd never met. I tolerate them because prison is not an option for me. There are people out there who are seriously messed up and who personalize and sensationalize and catastrophize and take life SOOOO seriously that I can't bear to be around them. I am a product of a very fortunate wind that somehow found its way into my life and rescued me from myself and from repeating some of the conditions in which I grew up. No one is perfect. No one is without flaw, but I wish some people had tried a little harder… I do sometimes have reluctance to write because of potentially hurt feelingsThere are posts I VERY badly want to write, but I don't because in the final analysis, what's done is done and to harp on it solves nothing. But I can say this, when I do write about it, I end up laughing about it and it becomes an almost Augusten Burroughs-esque recollection. Some stuff you just can't make up.    

4)     PPM: When you're not blogging, what are you up to besides trying to wrangle the household?

Molly: Sleep. I have a wonderful golden retriever named Murphy who is almost the perfect child. We go on walks together and I'm trying to teach him to howl "I love you." It's coming along. I practice yoga as often as I can.  I also run, and row a single racing shell as often as I possibly can. I have a couple books in the hopper and I need to get on them because I love to write. I love to watch movies with my family; we have a windowless area of our basement where we have a nice TV and stereo hooked up and we all really enjoy that. I also love to listen to comedians on Pandora with my kids. My oldest son, "Thing 1" is an old soul; he's almost 65 emotionally and he has a wonderful sense of humor and timing. Some of the stuff is inappropriate but he tells me he's heard worse on the school bus. I let it ride… He's got a good head on his shoulders.  Buuuuut there are lines I won't let him cross on my watch. I'm still the mother.

5)     PPM: Tell us a little about your writing background. How'd you get started?

Molly: It's genetic. I come from a line of Irish people. My dad's side of the family has some published books as does my mother's. My dad's family, however, owned printing presses and then he was a newspaper man for most of my life. He's a columnist now, semi-retired. My brothers are also fantastic writers and my cousins are brilliant too. We can't help ourselves. I've always been writing something. I majored in writing and editing at the amazing George Mason University and I loved it. My junior year however, I also fell in love with biology; there's something fantastic and magical and humbling about all that bio-genesis stuff. But I was so deep into my English degree that I didn't dare switch. I am still fascinated with nature and people and life. I'm a student of the earth I suppose. I got a job before I graduated as a technical editor, etc., and then I got another one and then another one in corporate communications at MCI and then AOL and then I had kids. Worked from home for myself and never stopped liking the idea of helping other people communicate. Writing is genetic for me. I can't not write. I tried to deny it for years, because of the genetic thing -- I wanted to 'carve my own way' and 'be my own person' and 'go on my own steam' so to speak and well, that frankly sucked. I have many talents and gifts bestowed due to genetics and conditioning and if I supposedly love biology, the irony in fighting the tidal wave of the gifts inherent in my genetic disposition is folly. So I'm going with the flow. It's easier now. But there are still the demons/shadows/specters of owing my success or happiness in this gig to my ancestors. I hesitate at those thoughts as I type this right now.  

6)     PPM: And what's your favorite thing to write?

Molly: I'm a candid person (in case you haven't figured that out already) so I deal in reality. I put up with a shitload (pardon the phrase) of denial and deception and unforced errors as a kid, so even though I like to read fiction, I have a hard time writing it. I hope to come around though, but life has shown me (due to some of the people I've let cross my path) that life is Weird. And that some of the things we encounter, we really can't make up. The material (in terms of writing and character development) from my youth is so rich, so dense, that people would have a hard time believing me. But I am a straight shooter. I tell it like it is. Sometimes people like that; other times not so much. So I guess my favorite thing to write is about what's happening right now and the irony of what we expected.

7)     PPM: You're obviously coming on as part of Peevish Penman, what are you aiming to bring to the group?

Molly: Me. I aim to bring me to the group. I don't expect to be Discovered or Get Found or Make Millions off this endeavor. I just like to write. Peevish Penman is still a bit of a mystery to me. I "met" PPM via Twitter and followed a tweet about joining the blog group. I hope I fit in and if I don't fit in, I will probably be disappointed about it, but I have no clue, actually, and I'll be candid about this question: I don't like it. I feel a little defensive about answering it because I wonder if I suspect I'm not taking it all seriously enough. I take things quite seriously in that I do my best and have the best of intentions, but I also have to laugh a little at the question because, to beat the crap out of an overused cliché, at the end of the day, I'm not getting paid for 100% of anything I do, so my plan, my aim, is to just enjoy whatever I do for or with the group.  

8)     PPM: What's your overall writing plan? Is it to keep your blog going and have fun, or is there a goal beyond that in mind?

Molly: Gah. Really? I have avoided stating goals all my life. That sounds odd because I engage in lots of physically demanding exercise and I've been a PTA president and I have kids… This question has always required a vast amount of soul searching and just about everything I've endeavored to do I have succeeded at. I have personal and private goals: never get fat, stay healthy as possible, don't become an alcoholic (don't laugh), keep the clutter at bay, stay positive and see the blessings in everyday existence (which is terribly easy now for me… I'm almost like a kid that way), make ice cream, be a better mother, a loving wife and try to be a good child to my aging parents. Be present.

Ok. I'll put it out there: my overall writing plan is to enjoy what I do and keep blogging because that's who I am. In "Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian" Amy Adams plays Amelia Earhart. During one of her final moments, she asks the Ben Stiller character something along the lines of why do we do anything in life? Why would we do what we don't enjoy? Why do something that isn't fun? That moment sat with me and drilled and drilled and drilled at me. I wanted to jump up and shout, YES! when she said that because galldurnit, life is FINITE! We have NO CLUE of what the next hour, hell, ten minutes has in store for us. So… sure, have goals. One of them is to not trip and break my ankle when I stand up after writing this…  and do your best but in the end: just be happy. I will always endeavor to have fun no matter what I do or else I wouldn't do it because life isn't always easy.   

Reluctantly: I've never said this: I want to publish with an actual publishing house. I want to get an agent, I want to have a great editor, I want to sell a book and share my ideas with people. The blog is different from any book I've written or will write but yeah, I wanna get paid for sharing my work. The blog is who I am, the book is what I'm capable of. What I Do. I'd like to have something of my own after I die (yeeesh, that's gloomy) that said I did Something. But I've done a lot. I've got three great kids and I have friends I love and whom love me and well… I am but a grain of sand on the beach of life. It's a comforting and scary thought that we are so insignificant, yet meaningful too. 

9)     PPM: A complete stranger comes up to you and says, "I want to blog about my life." What are your tips to get them started?

Molly: First of all I'm assuming the stranger is an adult. Or a teenager who understands American culture. My advice: Do it. Just get online, go to a blog site and do it. Stop talking about it, do it. That's like "I want to lose weight, how do I get started?" Really? How old are you? Eat less, move more repeat daily. People like to lean on other people to get them started and I think that's a cute "sentiment" 'cause we all need somebody to leeeean on? No, we don't. It's an annoying symptom of the obvious endemic codependence in our culture these days. Just do it. Get a pen. Get a cell phone, go to the library and use their free stuff and just Start Writing. Now. Stop reading this and start writing.  



  1. Moll, you're great. I'm glad you decided to embrace your genetics;)

  2. Oh, Molly, you didn't get the million dollar check I sent out for our group blogging endeavor? Unfortunately, the one I wrote myself bounced, but if we all keep clicking that little Google Ads link next to the picture of Rob, by the New Year, I could be mailing us each $1.

    Actually, I think what I like about group blogging is the learning process. I've seen all the interviews this month and I got something out of reading each one that I'll take with me. I love your post. You bravely bare those emotions and I find it easy to identify with what you write.

    Looking forward to the next post!

    1. well i don't have a bank account. i don't believe in banks so the check never got there. nyah! i am looking forward to what we churn out next as a team; i'm interested in doing some things i've seen other multi-writer blogs do: similar writing prompt but everyone does their own thing and see what happens.

    2. That does sound interesting especially with the range of interests in our group. Are you doing nano next month?

    3. I'm glad you think so! I am planning on NaNo for sure but I don't know what yet. I'm going with my gut. I have an idea that I pitched and a few people liked it but as far as letting it reveal itself to me...? that's not happening yet. I might have to push a little more. Are you doing NaNo?

    4. I am absolutely doing nano and this year I will win! I only tried once before in what was it? 2009? We should be buddies. I'll send an invite.

    5. super! i won the camp over the summer. i have never considered not finishing or winning at the writing thing because i'm so bloody prolific. if you only knew the things i don't write about because i end up talking myself out of them. but the consistent, cogent thought and theme: i can do it... yes! invite me.

    6. i thought i'd registered for NaNo, but i didn't. i just did.

  3. Those were really great questions and also terrific answers. I like the peek into how you approach life, writing, and keeping your blog real and true to you. None of us are one thing. I don't like being categorized either. It's a silly notion than any person can be categorized into such rigid structures. Take those "that was interesting" comments as a compliment. Some people need to be pushed and pulled a little outside of their comfort zone.

    I am glad I read this, Molly. I feel like I know you and I appreciate your honesty.

    I am Irish too...

    1. LC! you spoil me by venturing over here! i love that you tweeted and shared and are still willing to speak to me! AHAHHAHAH! as for the "interesting" yeah - people can bite it, honestly. i don't have time to determine whether or not i'm appreciated by people who can't give a bloody better adjective than "interesting." what floored me most of all is that some friends of my from HS are going to this blog post here and have come back to tell me that they loved it. and the same thing: the honesty thing... i guess i'm so used to it. as you know, i grew up with some karraaazy stuff, so i've never been good with fiction, ... lies... so yeah... it's "interesting" that people suggest my content is interesting. it's all over the map, if you ask me, but what it is always is sincere and hopefully helpful or distracting for people. the thing is this though: when people read, but don't comment... that's telling me that they can't deal with the intimacy of giving a compliment or stating a disagreement. that's ok. but the stats say people read stuff and even if i don't read something and comment on the blog, i'll mention it. as you know wordpress allows "liking" a post without actually reading it, so i'm always "hmm" about people who "like" but don't comment. thank you, as always, my lovely lass, LC.