Figuring out what to write

I've started about five or six different posts this past week, but none of them have made it to "Publish." No matter how firmly I was convinced when I sat down to write that I would make it through to the end, one of these blogging insecurities always managed to creep in. I was even trashing drafts of tweets, sure that I would just waste some of the most frequently wasted digital space. Ugh.

I want to write about elections and politics in the U.S. But I have spent so much time reading other people's commentary and I'm in such a dark place about finding any hope in political systems that I just don't have anything all that constructive to say.

I want to write about the people I know who have recently died of cancer, or who are struggling with it right now. But I don't have the patience to find words that move through the anger and sadness toward something good, or even useful.

Continue reading Figuring out what to write

Blogging insecurities

(In a future post I'll discuss this list and where it fits into my own experience of writing and blogging. For now, I give you a partial list of blogging insecurities as collected from many conversations over the years about what keeps us from hitting "Publish" - please comment to add others you've encountered.)

What if my words doesn't make sense?

What if someone else has already written a better post about this topic?

What if my post is too long?

What if my post is too short?

What if the moment has passed?

Should I update or replace my WordPress theme before writing this?

My TTFB seems high, maybe I should fix that before publishing?

Maybe I need a new keyboard that will help me write better?

What if there's some more important use of my time?

What if I'm not meant to be a writer?

What if I offend someone with my views?

What if I don't challenge or provoke any useful conversation with my views?

What if this post is too personal?

Continue reading Blogging insecurities

Interview with author David Ebenbach

davidebenbachOne of the things I appreciate most about living near a small, excellent liberal arts college is that it brings amazing people with amazing talents into my community, even if for just a short while. Sometimes I only get to encounter them for a single lecture, presentation or performance, but other times I'm fortunate to make deeper connections that continue on.

I'm glad that when author David Ebenbach was teaching at Earlham College a few years ago, there were opportunities to become friends with him and his family, and to start to get a sense of his love of (and gift for) the craft of writing. David now teaches at Georgetown University and he has published a number of books including Into the Wilderness, a collection of short fiction, and The Artists Torah, a guide to the creative process. David's written many different stories, poems and essays that appear in print and online.

As someone who enjoys good writing, aspires to do more writing myself, and who follows some of the "behind the scenes" in the world of authors and publishing, I was excited for the opportunity to interview David. We got to talk about his experiences as a writer, his take on modern publishing, and his own creative process: Continue reading Interview with author David Ebenbach

Writer's block

One of my favorite magazines, and one of the only ones I subscribe to, is The Sun. It's an ad-free publication of interviews, short stories, poems, and reader-submitted material that tends to engage the human experience in really amazing ways. It's sort of a hidden treasure in the world of magazines - either people tend to love it, or have never heard of it. They have a section every month called "Readers Write," where they pick a theme and ask readers to submit personal stories and experiences that relate to that theme.

Almost every month, I see the list of themes and think about what I would write about. I start to compose the words in my head. And then I look at the submission deadline for that topic (usually just weeks away) and then at the publication target for accepted pieces (usually many months away), and I tell myself that I'll come back to it later to actually send something in.

I've been a subscriber of the Sun since 1999, and I have not yet gotten around to submitting anything to them. I'm not sure if it's because I can't experience the instant gratification of having my writing accepted (or rejected) like I can with a weblog. Or maybe it's because I still have such a hard time letting myself write about things that other people are writing about. Or maybe it's because I know I would be submitting something for someone else to judge or value, and I'm not confident or vulnerable enough. Or maybe it's pure laziness, apathy.

Whatever it is, it's a form of writer's block that seems ridiculous and intimidating to me, yet very important to overcome.