Are you a “real” writer?

I suppose it can feel alienating to read through an article about the traits of a real writer and find that one shares a few, but not all of them or even none, but what I appreciated most here was the very LONG list. The more traits, the more possibility for seeing traces of oneself. Half way through, I felt inspired to write a daily 500 (that were not all student feedback) and was reminded of the outside reading that almost always helps me experience a conceptual break through (Judith Butler’s vulnerability), or come up with the snappiest article package (text, counter text, social text). Most of all, I loved the Graham Greene quote about the myth of writer’s block:

“So much in writing depends on the superficiality of one’s days. One may be preoccupied with shopping and income tax returns and chance conversations, but the stream of the unconscious continues to flow, undisturbed, solving problems, planning ahead: one sits down sterile and dispirited at the desk, and suddenly the words come as though from the air: the situations that seemed blocked in a hopeless impasse move forward: the work has been done while one slept or shopped or talked with friends.”

Yet another comrade knows we are always writing; even in the shower, while walking the dog, and sometimes while arguing with the insurance company (or not, but I hope there’s some positive something that can be gleaned from those mini-hells).

Getting Ready, Getting Excited…Getting Scared?!

20140805-221038-79838743.jpgI’ve been working feverishly on syllabi and thinking about all the interesting ideas, activities, and projects I want to engage students in over the coming semester. All that being said, I look at my notes and my documents and my designs and feel overwhelmed with all the new I’m going to be learning along with all the new faces and places I’m going to be meeting and exploring. It is all I can do to keep myself from sitting on the couch and staring into space at all the new.

I suppose this is the month out/night before school jitters that I’ve learned to expect and almost appreciate. Once I get in the swing of things, kinks will work out, surprises will emerge, and there will be a new beginning again. If only I could keep all that perspective at the forefront of my thoughts enough to quiet them and capture a worker-bee-like buzz.

Things I do to chill myself out in these moments of pre-semester jitters:

1. Log in to Facebook, Instagram or Whatsapp.

2. Check texts, email & write friends about totally unrelated writing, research, and life projects.

3. Blog.

4. Review a new book I’d like to use.

5. Make todo lists of tiny things I can do to move forward when I’m overwhelmed or brain dead.

6. Search for chocolate.

7. Calendar things.

8. Go to bed.

9. Take a shower.

10. Go for a run.

On blogging Everyday

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First things first, I haven’t blogged everyday so far. My longest run was 3 days in a row. The 30 day blogging challenge I entered into with folks on 7/17 has certainly been a reflective opportunity. Writing everyday is the work of a writer. I would like to think of myself as a writer, but the challenge is that I wear about 23 hats (to be exact). And when I write, it’s not always for this blog. I have to do many different types of writing for work. While the blog has some dimensions of my work woven across thoughts, it is more than my work and often not work (if we can draw boundaries between such things). Simply put, I am not paid to blog.

This brings me to a realization: I can understand now how full time bloggers must discipline themselves and do. Their livelihood and career identities depend upon it. I, however, am not a professional blogger. I blog because I like having a public record of particular ideas or thoughts, but I don’t blog for a massive, ad engaging following.

As a result of this realization, I’ve grown to appreciate the b-log origins of the platform and how the dailiness of posting truly pushes one to blog about daily, life-oriented material. It’s the only way to maintain something that requires daily or nearly daily touches. This means more personal life gets shared, the mundane seeps in, etc..

So I think the frequency suits my purposes, but the daily postings do not necessarily. That being said, if I was not trying to post everyday, I probably would not be able to post every other day or 5 days a week, etc. to come up with material, even material for less frequent lengthier, more edited posts, I must constantly be working the back burners of my mind stove. And that is my favorite take away from this challenge. I love the constant question mark over experiences, photos, and thoughts that fleet through my days: “Should I post about that?”

I’m actually really looking forward to blogging or thinking about blogging daily during the academic year as conversations and concepts in my courses will seep into my thoughts and I may be able to compose those nice professorly posts that make everyday connections to current events or questions posed at the close of class even more immediately.

My writing eyes are still opening and I’m still figuring out the value of this platform in my worlds.

To be continued…

 

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Meta-Post

So yesterday I just couldn’t. I thought about posting all day. As I said goodbye to friends and juggled kids and food and trash and conversations and clean up I actually had moments when I was thinking about what I should post. I was so deeply in my personal reality, the virtual space of my blog seemed like another land that I’d have to visit before I went to sleep, but after my goodbye to NYC friends Open House. I reflected on what it meant to write in the midst of personal responsibilities and commitments. I thought the only way to do things like that without seeming completely selfish and anti-social (isolating myself in the middle of a party to write) or inhuman (snorting cocaine or downing no-doze to stay awake after being on my feet making, doing, and cleaning up a party) would be to wake up before everyone and abscond to a place that doesn’t exist because it would have to be open at 5am (Where’s that 24 hour Denny’s on my block when i need it?)! All this is to say that blogging everyday and writing, nonetheless, is a commitment that I am learning from, even when I’m not ACTUALLY doing it.

Or we could say that all these thoughts were doing it. I remember watching the documentary The Woodmans about two artist parents who’d lost their potentially more talented artist daughter before her career had completely taken off (You should see it because it’s beautiful, haunting, and twisted… trailer is embedded above). What’s important to this post, however, is a process oriented reflection by George Woodman who remarked during the film that you, “go to your studio every day, and if inspiration doesn’t arrive, ‘sharpen pencils’ until it does.” Yesterday, I was “sharpening pencils.”

I also recall an academic think piece I read several years ago that mentioned the productive, silent thought processes that are part of the writing process, i.e., you can be walking around thinking about your writing and that counts as writing. All this is to say two things: First, I think these reflections on my process are going to keep coming up on this blog. They are part of the way my thoughts wander in my overcommitted, but mindful (by my estimation) life. Second, I’d like to use this post to claim that while I did not post yesterday, I was thinking about what I should post on and instead of posting about my family’s goodbye Open House, I am posting about my thoughts about blogging DURING my family’s goodbye Open House. We are always writing.