I have taught a college writing course every fall for the last few years, and in teaching this class, I see it as my responsibility to expose students to a variety of forms, genres, and styles of prose. Some of these are more formal than others, and some delve into the realm of professional writing, personal promotion, or even etiquette. Still, one of the best projects to date was a blog experiment. I asked students to select a topic, any topic, and maintain a blog for two weeks. The only other requirement was that they post a minimum of five entries/week, each consisting of at least 250 words, or approximately one page by academic standards. Some students chose to review and critique their favorite foods, others focused on hobbies such as skateboarding, and some dabbled in a variety of topics and ideas. I too jumped in, creating my own blog and focusing on my love for animals, particularly dogs. And then the funniest thing happened: my passion for writing returned for the first time in years.
That last statement may seem ironic, but I would ask a banker if they would like to discuss finances upon returning home from a long day of loan negotiations, a bartender if they would care to make drinks for others at a family gathering, or a stay-at-home parent if they would like to babysit this upcoming weekend. You get my point, right? As someone that has taught English writing courses for the past eight years, I had lost my desire to create my own work. When I had finished teaching writing workshops, created lessons meant to draw understanding from students, and completed grading a variety of essays from a multitude of classes, I could not often find the motivation, energy, or focus to write for my own enjoyment. That was a rough time for me. Writing has long been a staple in my life–a way of expressing what I feel, what is important to me, and even what I believe I can offer to the world.
Flashing forward, and in weeks subsequent to the blog project, I spent a great deal of time working on a multitude of blog drafts, finding stories and subjects worthy of examination, and even establishing the first draft a book that I hope to one day publish–very much a work in progress and one that I have put on the back burner for now. Still, I have written intermittently since that project, but with great love and intent to inspire. See, for a duration of my collegiate years and those following, I thought I wanted to be a professional writer. Since then, and particularly in the last year, I have learned that I want to be a writer that shares his work–I want others to be able to access and read my prose, and if circumstances permit and unfold in a manner that yield me opportunities for publication and recognition, then that is terrific, but it is not my greatest desire. Right now, I am writing frequently and without any incentive but to satisfy my urge to create, share, and repeat. Right now, I am writing freely and it feels incredible. And this personal revelation is no surprise when I actually give thought to the nature of how I came to first enjoy writing.
When I became sick as a teenager, coping with cancer and the psychological warfare it waged, someone–and I can’t remember who–gave me a journal and suggested I write about “it.” The details of my illness are not pertinent to this story in particular, but they were fuel for my yearning to learn how to better communicate. They were days and moments that inspired me to learn more about myself, others, and how to operate in a world that had just presented itself in a way I had not previously known was even possible. At first, writing provided an outlet, an escape of sorts. Though as time passed and my soul started to heal and became privy to the sharpness of the world, writing provided a platform for further self-discovery and relationship-building–the latter being perhaps most important. See, when I share my stories, perspectives, and feelings, I seek to establish and find common ground. I seek to build community and understanding.
If writing has taught me anything in the past year, it is that I have to follow my passions. I no longer feel uneasy when someone compliments my work. I believe I’m a damn good writer, and I’m going to keep moving in that direction. I’m a communicator at heart, so I’m going to communicate, and I’m going to acknowledge that this is a skill that I work on frequently and value highly. And the best part? The feedback.
When I log onto my blog account and see that people have visited, commented, and liked my work, it is a highlight of my day. I am deeply touched and honored that others take time to read my work, and I am inspired when I receive word from others that my prose has motivated them, taught them something, or provided them something to ponder. It was not until lately that I learned what importance this blog, and writing in general, has impressed upon me–a cause for great reflection.
Maybe the genesis of my blog dates back 15 years to a rather unpleasant period of my life, but its current significance to me, and hopefully others, trumps any negative vibes that I can imagine. More importantly, writing offers me strong vibes–not just those of enjoyment and pleasure, but those of empowerment, fulfillment, and meaning. Can ya dig?