May I have the keys?

It is an honor and privilege to have Erin Feldman back in the house for second time. She previously guest posted The Blessing of Rejection way back on September 22, 2011 and had over 100 comments. It was a lively couple of days indeed.

Recently, I jokingly told her I was giving her my blog and was going to throw her the keys; it was the inspiration for this post.

Here’s my friend Erin’s story; enjoy.

Erin Feldman

May I Have the Keys?

“May I have the keys?” may be one of the most dreaded questions parents face. Personally, I never asked my parents for the keys. My dad’s Bronco was a death trap, and what sixteen-year-old wants to drive around in the family van? No, thank you. I may not have been the popular kid, but I didn’t need to defame myself further by showing up to events in the big, brown van. I had some sense of self-preservation.

“Will you need the keys?” is equally problematic. It isn’t that I can’t drive other people’s cars; I drive a standard, which means I can transverse the world of automatics and standards. (Try not to ask me to do so. I have a strange, rebellious sort of pride when it comes to being able to drive a standard. It’s akin to being a Mac girl or boy. I may use a PC when I must, but I’m going to lob scathing remarks at the computer the entire time.)

I think question causes some anxiety because I’ve been asked to be responsible for someone else’s possession. What if I crash into something? What if someone or something (A deer? At the infamous deer crossing?) runs into the car? What if I’m not supposed to be driving the vehicle because the owner doesn’t have the right kind of insurance? What if I leave my insurance card at home, and I’m pulled over because the owner’s car has a broken taillight?

How many of those things actually will happen? Not many, if any. Breathe. Calm down.

Still, the question is a little worrisome, especially when the keys go to something other than a car. A blog? Bill’s blog? He wants me to take it for a spin? Well, well. Let’s see what I can do. Maybe I can write in a different style than usual. Maybe not. I’m told I have a unique voice, which I suppose is a desirable thing. It makes it a little hard to hide, though.

Olly, olly, oxen free…

Sometimes, it’s nice to hide. It’s good to break away from one’s usual style. It’s easier to do in a creative work, such as a short story or poem. A business blog? A different matter entirely. The voice has to be recognizable. It may evolve over time, but it needs to have a constant thread, something that makes it, it. I guess I have it, but I push against it at times.

Sometimes, “it” irritates me.

Sometimes, I become so irritated with “it” that I write something “wild.” It’s a concept one of my poetry professors used in a workshop. We had to write a poem that was as unlike our usual style as possible. I had had enough with the “Erin poem” comments, so I went wild. My usual style is short: short lines and short poems. When I went wild, I wrote a long poem. I wrote long lines. I wrote a satirical epic about my high school – complete with dumbstruck knights and nasty queens.

I haven’t been able to repeat the style. I don’t think I would like to repeat it.

Once was enough. The energy required to write as someone other than myself may be fun and may cause me to grow as a writer, but continually writing in response to comments about voice and style is a good way to wither quickly. No one can keep that sort of pace. A writer needs rhythm. A writer needs to do the work, but it’s hard to do it if the writer constantly changes the requirements. Some structure is needed. Sometimes, though, sometimes it’s nice to borrow the keys and to take a spin in someone else’s car or blog.

That. Is. All.

About Erin: In brief: I am a writer, poet, artist, and writing coach. I am the person behind Write Right, a business dedicated to helping you tell your story. I help you tell that story through an emphasis on writing right (I believe you have to know the rules before you can break them.) and creativity. Stories can be told in a variety of ways. Words are one way. Images are another.


66 thoughts on “May I have the keys?

  1. Hi Erin, A warm welcome back to Bill’s place. I’m sure he’s thrilled that he tossed you the keys, even if you cringed at the idea of driving an automatic/using a PC.

    You’re right, it’s good to break out of our mold, stretch the legs and try a new style. Even if it doesn’t feel comfortable at first, outside of our rhythm, it helps us expand, grow and discover “it”, whatever “it” is.

    Thanks for bringing your “it” to Bill’s blog.

  2. “I’m not going around the block,” i told him.

    “If you give me the keys, I’m hitting the corners so hard, they groan. And if there’s chickens in the road, the only time I stop is to throw dinner in the trunk. So now you know how it’s going be – if you give the keys to me.”

    I’m not sure why he gave me the keys to his brand new XJ Jaguar. But some people are crazy like that.

    What’s important to me is to be honest about where you want to take it. If they agree, everything else is immaterial…

    Recently on my blog:
    Are we blogging yet?

  3. I’m happy to be your passenger today, as we spin around with Bill’s keys. And like Carolyn said, thanks for bringing your “it” to Bill’s place. (We just won’t tell him where we took it for a spin. I’m envisioning a gauntlet, winkwink)

    The way we grow is to stretch outside our comfort zone. As the saying goes, “A mind once stretched never goes back to its original dimensions.” Vroooooooom. Cheers! Kaarina

  4. Driving in general is a touchy subject for me lately. Everybody thinks I drive too fast. Blogging feels the same way- not too fast, but I change gears a lot and…well, I don’t know where I am sometimes! Recently I asked a complete stranger to guest post. I didn’t even bother to look at his blog first. Life is more fun that way, but…risky? Don’t know. I think the thing I like best about blogging is the friendliness of it. People are kind, flexible, and easy to get to know. I don’t stress doing new things, but the performer in me still get nervous before publishing. I sort of like that feeling though. Makes me feel alive.
    Thanks for the thoughts, Erin, and Bill for your generosity.

  5. I believe you did a fine job driving Bill’s blog. Not one scratch or dent in sight. In my lifetime I’ve survived two children who are now grown. My daughter was a piece of cake other than the usual worries about children suddenly driving. My son, on the other hand, is responsible for every gray hair on my head yet I survived. So, handing out the keys may be something other people do but I now have a list, those who would get the keys and those who will not. Obviously you’re on Bill’s “will get the keys” list and for good reason. I enjoyed your thoughts.

  6. I can drive anything you put into my hands but never criticize my driving while in the car with me or tell me I am going the wrong way because if you do my own rebellious streak will rear its head. I once made Mr. Toad cry uncle because I had to prove he didn’t know a thing about a wild ride.

  7. Coming over to Bill’s is always an enjoyable cruise and finding you here today, Erin, is even better. I always enjoy reading your posts over at Write Right, so it is a double bonus to accompany you on your spin with Bill’s blog. I used to be a bit of a speed demon – it is only the condition of the roads that stops me 😉


  8. What a trusting soul Bill is Erin! Welcome back and I enjoyed the post.

    Personally, I love this unique voice of yours. My kind of style I can tell and although you’re a Mac girl, you seem pretty cool. You have to be if you’re a friend of Dorman’s right! Either way, happy you graced us today and Bill handed over the keys.

    Hope you both are having a great week.


  9. Hey Erin

    You did a great job. I really enjoyed the post.

    Most people in the UK drive manual cars so I’m right with you. in fact, it’s a running joke over here that people who drive automatic cars can’t really drive! If you pass your driving test in an automatic car, you’re not allowed to drive a manual you see but you can drive both if you pass your test in a manual car.

    It’s definitely good to try something different every now and again. I tried making pizza the other day and it wasn’t half bad!

    • Hey, Tim and all you other manual snobs – I’m a late convert to automatics and think the gear stick is hugely over-rated. We’re behind the times over here!

      Nice drive, though, Erin – I enjoyed the ride. Funny, I’ve just mentioned driving in my response to Adrienne’s latest post, which is all about Twitter. I’m a social media newbie and feel like I’m taking my first few driving lessons – progress is painfully slow and I’m having to think about my every move. And I can tell you, neither Twitter nor FB handle like automatics, I’m sure I keep crunching the gears.

      Nice to have a rest in the passenger seat – thank you!


      • Crunching the gears indeed; sometimes it is smooth sailing and others it’s like shifting w/out the clutch.

        Every day is an adventure, right?

        Good to see you; thanks for stopping by to say hi to Erin.

      • Soon, you’ll be shifting gears without a problem. It took me some time to figure out how to use social media and how to use it in a way that made sense for me.

        I only complain about my standard when I’m in stop-and-go traffic on the interstate. 😉

  10. You didn’t damage it at all! In fact you did a brilliant job of being in control! 🙂

    It always helps to stretch and take a different spin. Isn’t that how creativity comes to exist? 🙂

    • You should take one of my prose poems for a spin. You sometimes barely have time to get into the seat. 🙂

      I was aiming for flow with this post. I wanted to see how far I could push it before the post caved on itself. I also wanted to see if I could imitate Bill’s style. I like how he shifts from one thing to another.

  11. It is fun to take over someone else’s voice, or really, to stretch your own at someone else’s place. I’ve been trying to use guest posts to talk about topics outside of my own. My blog’s focus is pretty narrow, so it’s nice to talk about other things. Good to see you at Bill’s Erin — even a few days after the fact!

  12. I can’t believe I didn’t comment on this post. Sheesh. When I was in Europe I drove standard again for the first time in 20 years. It was a thrill! Automatics are so not fun but in Canada where the roads are wide, flat and straight it doesn’t much matter. Maybe the same with blogging. When you feel like you are in automatic mode it’s time to go back to stick (i.e. write with a pen).

    I have been busy with the day job and not around much. I hope you are well. Cheers!

  13. Hi Erin (and Bill),

    I can truly relate to every topic you addressed in your post, and I actually don’t like to be handed the keys. I am not sure if I like to give people the keys either, well, if it’s my car it doesn’t matter, but it’s a different story about my Mac or my phone. When there’s a personal story attached to it, lots of personal documents and settings, I don’t want people to mess with it (and that’s what my kids are doing all the time). 🙂

    I am so glad that you have to be 18 years old to drive a car in Norway, and that it’s really hard to get a drivers license. The day when my kids will ask for the keys to the car, will be a time when I’m going to get worried a lot more than today. And again, it’s not about the car 🙂

    Very interesting post Erin.

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