Writer’s Block

originally published in The Moody Standard, issue 77.11, in May, 2012, as my first column as editor-in-chief of The Moody Standard

I have never really stopped being surrounded by words. My grandfather worked as an editor for the majority of his career, and my mother is a freelance writer and editor. The love of words is in my blood.

At age four, “words” began to fascinate me, and before long, reading became my passion. By the time I graduated from high school, I had established a class newsletter and spent a summer working for a local Christian newspaper. Fast forward to today: by choosing to major in communications, work for the newspaper, and pursue internships in the communications field, I have condemned myself to never escaping this world.

Luckily, I am okay with that. I chose to be in a love affair with words and grammar, but not because of my heritage or because it seemed like the established path for me. I chose it because I loved it.

For a long time, I kept up a blog. I wrote to entertain myself, and it was just a bonus if anyone else enjoyed it. I also wrote for The Moody Standard and for my mom’s freelancing businesses.

But at some point in the past year, I stopped writing as much. Once in a while I would go back, click through 20 or so partial drafts and flirt with the idea of finishing a few. Every time, I would ultimately click the little gray “x” on my browser window, and my blog would stay in a lonely, cold corner of the Internet, unchanged.

Granted, writing itself has never been my particular passion in the broad world of communications. In fact, writing and I have an ongoing love-hate relationship.

Incomprehensible to most people, I actually prefer editing. I prefer critiquing someone else’s work to creating my own from scratch—not (entirely) because I love to criticize, but because I enjoy making someone else’s writing better. Although if I am honest, it is also because I love geeking out about grammar, logical sentence structure and improper uses of certain mischievous punctuation marks (I am looking at you, ellipses and hyphens).

But writing, wonderful and dreadful writing, is intertwined with editing, and I have not really engaged in either activity for quite some time. I would like to be able to explain why I stopped, but I do not actually know. What I do know is that I have been ignoring something huge in my life, something for which I have a God-given passion. And that missing piece has generated a distinct feeling of being half-baked, unfinished.

This fall I will be entering into a new role on the newspaper staff as editor-in-chief. I am terrified of it. But I am also excited. It is an opportunity, a reason, to write and edit constantly—and I know that in the process I will inevitably reignite an old love.

Castles in the sky and other such nonsense.

Castles in the sky: dreams that don’t really have foundation in reality; unreachable things; dreams far off; abstract, unattainable.

Or at least that’s what I’m told. I was never much of a dreamer. Too practical, I suppose, and I’d be the first to admit it’s probably a weakness, to be ill suited to “dream big” the way others do.

But that’s okay. Since “castles in the sky” is what a dear friend suggested I write about, I have my own definition for the phrase — even though my unreachable things are only unreachable by a week, and my far off is a three hour flight.

But a week, a three hour flight, that seems like a lot when you’re ready to take that other reality by storm. Ready, ready, ready. Prepared? No, I’ll not be prepared, prepared for studies and Greek, prepared to lead a staff of 12, prepared to live my last year in a dorm, prepared to make it memorable, prepared to ponder my real world future. Oh no. Prepared? Never.

But ready. Prepared and ready are two different things. Ready for the city, the bustle, the freedom of public transit, the editing, the walks and talks and roommate dates.

But it’s not here. It’s just as far off as an unattainable dream can be. Oh I could start studying. I could write a few columns. Prepare. But it’s not the same.

This transition period is lovely and horrible at the same time. Full and empty. Full because I have on the one hand friends in Florida also about to take off requiring quality time, and college relationships to renew or refresh. Full of texts and calls and plans for the last days, and the semester to come.

But empty. Because the plans for now? They’re one last attempt. They’re shoehorned in, filling spaces between packing and family events and work and preparing space for returning siblings. They’re no longer lazily planned Friday evenings that may as well go till the wee hours of the morn. And the plans for next week and those stretching to what feels like an infinity of weeks to come? They’re just not here yet, frustratingly close, yet somewhere over there.

It’s an antsy, stressful time. An eager time. Sweet and bitter, rushed and slow to come all at once.

It’s a time when in one direction I have this: these castles in the sky — my coming school year, and all the wonderful and amazing plans fitted into  it. Still unattainable. And the other direction? It’s behind me. Past now. Sheer memories. Castles in the past? The summer past? Sure, we’ll go with that.

Still, these past few days have their own sweet magic. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to loving the transition time just a little bit: that’s where the sweet comes in. Fresh beginnings coming soon. Motivation and ambition loaded in my back pocket and ready to be unleashed. And still, family to welcome home, a last dinner to cook and bake, and last minute shopping. Maybe even a few more minutes down at the beach.

Because really, sand castles are much better than castles in the sky.

“Wherever you are, be all there! Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.” – Jim Elliot

In which five-hour energy is consumed and “synergytastic” becomes a word.

Today’s lesson: Don’t drink five-hour energy before sitting down to do desk work. Or maybe it’s just don’t drink five-hour energy? The strangest part is that I ONLY drank maybe a quarter of one of those tiny bottles.

And then I realize it’s not just the caffeine I just shot into my system. I’m just antsy in general right now. The excited, eager kind of antsy, mostly. The nervous, stressed, worried kinds as well, but I’d rather focus on the excited and eager feelings today. They’re much more attractive. And supportive, encouraging, positive. (Can I date an abstract concept?)

My mom has a saying. And let me tell you, when she gets a saying going, it never really goes away. Seriously. Never. “August has a way of getting you ready for school.” Working in an elementary school, she should know! And it’s true. No matter how much I enjoy summer and and dread the return of school during the early months, by August it changes. Of course it’s more so now, when school means seeing close friends I’ve gone three months without and returning to a city that I’ve made a home in, but I’ve always been this way. I just wouldn’t have been so likely to admit it in high school!

I spent over an hour last night, when I should have been sleeping (of course), leaving messages for and chatting with girls from the floor I’m moving onto this fall. I should have been sleeping, but I can’t help it – I was excited! I keep forgetting that I’m going to be on 3W this fall, and every time I remind myself I’m just as excited as the last time. I loved my old floor, but grew into the community on this one as the last year went on. And I’m so excited to be legitimately a part of it.

I’m obsessing over decorating late at night these days too. Flipping through posts on Pinterest, wondering about my own DIY skills, dreaming of color schemes. I probably should remind myself that there’s only so much you can do with a Houghton dorm room, and I should probably stop texting my new roommate about decorating all the time, but I can’t help it. Last year was so busy, so crazy. There was so much transition and so much new responsibility involved in each semester, that no matter how design-y I can get and no matter how artsy my wonderful roommate was, we never really finished decorating. Seriously. I finally put something on the wall beside my bed in April. So I’m excited, because getting back early means times to get settled and pretty up our room.

Oh, wait, why am I going back early, you ask? [Just pretend you did.] That’s another thing I’m super [duper] antsy about. But that’s also where the nervous and stressed feelings come in, uninvited and unattractive. For the past two years I’ve worked with our school’s wonderful newspaper – one year as an unpaid Practicum student [for credit] and last year on staff as Business Manager.

And this year? Editor-in-Chief. Totally never expected that to happen, going into college. But I love it. Well, I think I’ll love it. I’ll definitely love it more than doing the business end of things. Because, see, I love editing. And I love working with – and taking care of – people. So it’s going to be phenomenal, and I’m extremely eager-antsy to get everything rolling, and ridiculously happy to be going into the year with a fantastic, synergytastic, mostly-trained staff. Yes, synergytastic is now a word. And “mostly-trained” is a wonderful adjective.

Of course, the stressed out nervous part comes from the fact that I have no blessed idea what I’m doing in such a role, but for the most part I’m excited to learn and figure it out as we go – and it helps to know your adviser is awesome.

See? I’m so antsy for this fall to finally arrive that I can’t even stop talking about it. Next thing you know, I’ll be explaining exactly where I intend to place my picture frames and why I’m so excited to finally have a Walmart nearby campus. What? You don’t care? Oh fine. If you actually read this all the way through you deserve a little mercy.

So what about you? Are you excited for the fall, or dreading the end of summer? And other students, am I totally alone in being antsy for school year after year? 

Stay tuned for when my mood totally changes and I blog about why I can’t stand the thought of leaving Florida!

Disclaimer: I rarely proofread my blogs. So if you wonder why the girl with all the typos is an editor, well,  it’s because I do almost all my informal writing in the middle of the night. That should pretty much explain everything.

Beyond.

Topic: Beyond
Alotted time: Five minutes

 

Go.

Beyond college doesn’t scare me right now. I decided awhile back that it wouldn’t anymore. Why? Not because I don’t need to figure it all out at some point, and not because I won’t ever worry about it. But because I have time. When the new year rolled around this past year, I didn’t exactly make traditional resolutions. But one thing I said was that when I turned 22, I needed to have the beginnings, maybe even middles, of an idea of what May would bring. That means, in early December, I need to have started pondering, considering, even applying.

But not now. Now I get to take care of, well, now. There’s so much coming up, so much to enjoy and savor and focus on.

And the beyond becomes less scary for that, because with it comes perspective. It will come. It will happen. And when it does, there will be new things to savor, and enjoy, and focus on.

Beyond will come when it needs to.

STOP.

 

Confession: I took two takes on this. And I still feel silly posting such incomplete thoughts. But there will be plenty of time to talk about May. It will come when it needs to.

Enough

To fill out my two posts for the week [and allow each of the five weeks mentioned here to be Monday–>Sunday deals] I decided to jump on a bandwagon I noticed awhile back. Every week, Lisa-Jo Baker hosts a weekly flash-mob blog link up where a topic is given, five minutes in allotted, and content is written with no nit picking, no editing, no worrying. Just five minutes and a post. Well, this is the topic from three weeks ago [link here]. I went back a few weeks because I may use the two more recent ones as well – these seem like good writing exercises to get me back in the habit of blogging.

So anyway. Here it is.

 

Topic: Enough

My to do lists every year, every summer, fill up and up and up. Projects, photo albums to fill, people to maintain relationships with, hobbies to succeed in. The hobby issue is the worst. I’ve tried to have too many hobbies in the past.

But I want to be in so many things. Involved in so many things, good at so many things. That I forget that I will stop being good at a few things if I try to be good at everything. That at some point, I’ll be good at nothing.

This is getting depressing. Not where I was going! My point is, I’m learning to cut back in the ways that matter. This summer we moved family, I worked and interned, I ran around Florida with a couple of friends. I didn’t knit, but I learned to cook a few things. I didn’t sew anything from scratch, but I learned a little bit of how to alter items. I didn’t write much, but I read tons. Those things I didn’t do? I have time to do them, but I don’t need to now. I can knit after college if I want. I can write this fall. Making clothes from scratch? Another summer.

Because not everything has to be in order. Not every photo needs to be in an album, but you might just have to pick one trip to tackle now. Leave the rest for another time and don’t worry about it.

I don’t have to do everything. And it can be enough.

This summer has been enough.

STOP.

 

What do I do if I’d like to make a real post about this? Or is that the point of the exercise, sort of? Well anyways. To honor the integrity of the concept, I’ll leave it be.

Well, except for a few little things. I couldn’t help myself.

Five-Week Plan

I don’t really know what I’m doing with this blog right now. I’m tempted to try to make a regular thing of it. Blogging has always been an on-and-off pastime for me, but I’ve started following so many great lifestyle-type blogs lately that I’m so tempted. Tempted to claim that I’m going to do it, going to make something of my blog.

And then I realize how bad of an idea that probably is right now. Lately, my mind is a very disordered place. I’d blame it on summer, but that’s a farce. It’s been coming on for a while now, including most of the last school year. I’ve been improving though. After all, it IS almost back-to-school time, and there is NO way I can get through everything I have going this year with a disorganized mind or life.

That said, with everything coming up [a topic for a different post], with all the motivation I need to find for already existing endeavors, and with how time-consuming it’s all bound to be, I’d probably be setting myself up for failure if I decided to make my blog a priority as well.

Does that mean I can’t try to write more? Hardly. I NEED to write more. I like writing, when I actually do it. And I love writing, when I’m doing enough of it that it starts to feel natural again. [And I’m definitely going to need fodder for my biweekly column – blogging may help with ideas.] 

So what about a small goal? What if I say… two blogs a week? Trust me, that’s a massive commitment when you consider that I went June ’11 to about June ’12 without an update. But one of those two can be one of the “link-ups” I’ve been noticing on other blogs lately [High Five Friday, which I’ve done below, or Smell the Roses, which I intend to do soon]. By posting something easy and quick once a week, hopefully adding a more thoughtful post alongside will feel less demanding and stressful. 

To make it more concrete, it’s a goal for five weeks. I’ll make five weeks of 2+ posts a week, and reevaluate at the end. 

It might not happen. Or it might happen halfway. But I adore the glimpse of the blogging community that I get by just reading blogs and skimming comments, and I want to crack the door open just a little more by partaking a little. Is that a mixed metaphor? 

So here’s one of my posts for the week. If I do follow through, you can expect that most of them about this time of night, when I’m the most incoherent and ramble inclined. I apologies ahead of time.