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I think of myself as a writer, and yet my diaries here are few and far between. My blog entries are even scarcer these days. Even today, visiting my principal blog sites, I ended up just clearing out the spam comments instead of writing anything. (Yet.— Written hopefully.)

In the recent past, I have been a steady if not prolific commenter here and elsewhere. I can justly blame the drop-off in comments this past quarter to my having enrolled in an intensive German language integration course which, counting travel to and fro, takes up at least 4 hours every weekday afternoon. That commitment to learning German will continue at least through the end of May, and that, coupled with a feast-or-famine paid work schedule (some days nothing, some days an overwhelming amount of work), gives me something of an excuse.

But it's hardly a satisfactory excuse at all.

I can usually find time to do the things I really want to do. So it is that I waste hours on Facebook and obsessively return to the same websites (including this one) repeatedly throughout the day and night. This is especially true when something unusual or important has happened that directly intersects in some way with my life — in this latest case, the Boston Marathon bombings, given that I have an adult child currently living there and that our family lived for several years just over the line from Watertown in Belmont not much more than a mile or so from where the second suspect was captured. (To say that I was glued to the news would be an understatement. Even in German class I was compulsively checking Facebook and Flipboard updates on my iPhone every few minutes — but I digress, perhaps.)

I would like to believe that posting this will mark my return to greater engagement as a writer. I have a fictionalized autobiographical book underway that is aching to be finished before more details seep from my mind,* among several others. I have many comments and opinions that I ought to expand into bona fide essays and diaries — personal, political, feminist, (formerly) religious… and even purely creative and/or humorous.

There is no shortage of material with which to work. Nor is there really a shortage of time as such. Seems to me, however, that there's something of a shortage of self-discipline. Here is hoping that a public confession of this kind will serve to help relight the fire that spurred many a lengthy essay and journal entry in my younger years, many of which began with the words, "I feel compelled to write."


*My book is about my time as the principal of a private American school housed in a French public school. In addition to all the Up the Down Staircase elements inherent to dealing with teachers and (mostly expat) students and their families, I was also dealing with a French host school administration that was actively trying to kill off our school. Fun times for all!

Sun Apr 21, 2013 at 10:33 AM PT: Thanks, Rescue Rangers!

Originally posted to mofembot on Sat Apr 20, 2013 at 02:17 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I think it was Anita Loos... (12+ / 0-)

    ...who said that writing is easy. Just sit down at the typewriter and slit your wrists.

    As a writer and an editor, I appreciate your post and your predicament.

    The only reason I am able to keep writing is fear that, if I stop, I will never start again.

    Right now, I am in the midst of going over the copyedited chapter files for the book I finished in February. Once they go back, I will have one last chance to make small changes when the page proofs come. It's depressing: I haven't looked at the book since completion and, as usual, all I see are the problems--problems I have little energy for fixing. Yet I spent eight or ten hours before the computer yesterday, going over two of the chapters as ruthlessly as I could, always wanting to stop and do something--anything--else. It is tedious work.

    Writing, rewriting, editing... these are some of the loneliest tasks I know of. But we've chosen to take them on.

    It's not a lack of self-discipline that stops us, but the feeling that the work could be for naught. Fortunately, that can also be what drives us (it certainly does for me), the feeling that, unless I get my ass in gear, all of this certainly will come to nothing.

  •  Works the other way too. (12+ / 0-)

    I write for work. Literally as in 8 hours a day. But reporters don't just write for 8 hours straight. So when I comment anywhere it's usually a one liner.

    No lack of stuff to say but ... Fatigue.

    Thump! Bang. Whack-boing. It's dub!

    by dadadata on Sat Apr 20, 2013 at 04:11:08 AM PDT

  •  I like to write. I don't diary, because. . . (10+ / 0-)

    . . .I am usually behind most diarists on Daily Kos when it comes to finding a substantive issue to share with the very astute readers here.  I could post a rant, but most of you agree with me, so . . .You are already ranting.  
    I'll tell you one thing though, if I sense that the Washington State congressional delegation getting soft in their opposition to the chained CPI (Senator Murray are you reading this?)or in their support for gun control, I will post a diary in an attempt to do something, anything, to encourage opposition to their electoral success.

    Money ain't free speech and it won't buy you love.

    by waztec on Sat Apr 20, 2013 at 08:24:35 AM PDT

  •  Just a thought I had while scanning your post (7+ / 0-)

    (I'm waiting for my daughter in law to be to pick me up for the bridesmaid's shower) that you might be looking for the right concept to write about and that might just be the immersion experience you are having. I'd love to know more from a writer learning German what it is like to spend that much time learning German. Snippets might be all you can offer, but they will gdrow into other pieces...

    Just a thought...

    I can do everything but earn a living.

    by alabamaliberal on Sat Apr 20, 2013 at 08:25:28 AM PDT

  •  Are you my twin? (6+ / 0-)

    I'm in the same situation, except that my intensive class is in Portuguese rather than German. However, I had the good fortune to get an instructor who believes in teaching the language through creative writing, so I ended up writing a short story in Portuguese this semester. Although I love the characters and the story line, I don't have any interest in translating it into English; in fact, I'm considering continuing it in Portuguese after the class is over.

    I'm also seriously considering moving to Portugal to teach English through creative writing. I have a MFA in writing, so finding this class was especially fortuitous. I have written some entries on my blog about living in Portugal (I spent last fall in Lisbon, where I started learning the language and met a lot of wonderful people) and about the class I'm taking now, but I wonder if anyone at all is reading it.

  •  have you tried (8+ / 0-)

    making myself write every day to keep that streak going has been wonderful discipline.

    "morning pages" (even though I don't usually do them in the morning) also clear my head of extraneous stuff so I can concentrate on what I really want to write.

    this weekend I have several writing projects I have to do for work, and I would usually look forward to that, but I am having a hard time reorienting myself to reality after the events of this week.

    still in the midst of it all I did my 750 words every day.

    now I am looking at the hours left in the weekend and the writing I have to do and remembering i also have to eat and sleep.

    if I stay focused, I'll make it.

    Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
    Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights for support in dealing with grief.

    by TrueBlueMajority on Sat Apr 20, 2013 at 09:40:13 AM PDT

    •  Haven't tried 750 words, but (4+ / 0-)

      I will definitely check it out. I actually managed to post something new on my autobiographical blog today — granted, it will not win any prizes, but at least it was something.

      I usually start out pretty well most years (what with New Year's resolutions and all)… and then peter out after a few weeks at best (with occasional stabs at a comeback every quarter, seems like). Same with November ("write a novel" month). I hope to improve my consistency by whatever means possible, so thanks for the tip!

      •  i want a pat on the back (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mofembot, NancyWH, Deejay Lyn, MeToo, NonnyO

        i completed NaNoWriMo last year!  On my third try!

        This time I separated it into 1667 words per day.  Most days I actually tried to write 1750 so that by the time I got to the end of the month I had some margin to play with.

        750 words lets you earn virtual badges for putting streaks together.  But after a while it is no longer about the badges because it has become a habit.

        let me know if you try it and what you think.

        meanwhile, I love the idea of an autobiographical
        blog.  I've been trying to write my autobiography
        (just for me since I have no descendants) for years and keep organizing but for some reason I can't get started.  so I pat you on the back for actually getting started!

        Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
        Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights for support in dealing with grief.

        by TrueBlueMajority on Sat Apr 20, 2013 at 11:35:26 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I thought I was 'compelled' to write also. (6+ / 0-)

    Spent my career as a newspaper reporter, then a decade doing freelance and political communications work.

    Wrote and (self) published my first novel a year ago. That pretty much took care my 'compulsion.'

    Some folks have asked when the sequel is coming. I had a couple ideas for it, did some research, and found I wasn't compelled to do it anymore.

    As I'm fond of telling people--any idiot can write a book and a whole lot of us do.

    I'm finding at my age I have a lot of other things I'm interested in that are far better than sitting in front of the computer for 6 or 8 hours, beating my brains out.

    When atlatls are outlawed, only outlaws will have atlatls.

    by wheeldog on Sat Apr 20, 2013 at 10:05:57 AM PDT

  •  I also write "for a living" (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Deejay Lyn, mofembot, NonnyO

    as a disability analyst.  I'd rather write an affirmative proposal for a deserving disabled person than a proposed denial any day.  Unless I feel like the claimant is trying to scam the system.  I have also been getting the garden ready, so that's my "other job" that takes me away from writing.  It's all good.  Variety will make you a more complete soul.  You will know when it's time to write, and pubish.  :-)    

    "The light which puts out our sight is darkness to us." Thoreau

    by NancyWH on Sat Apr 20, 2013 at 10:37:59 AM PDT

  •  Sometimes it's just that you're "lying fallow" (12+ / 0-)

    for a while.  For years after I retired I found I couldn't write fiction.  I keep a journal, so I've always written something, but not every day.

    But then something happened--something clicked in my mind--and suddenly a short story I'd wanted to write for years appeared.  I had the title kicking around for 12 years but one day I opened the Sunday Washington Post, read a story (only peripherally related to what I wanted to write), and bingo!  The whole creative process started again.

    My guess is that your intensive German class is taking all your mental energies, including creative energy, right now.

    But be of good cheer--not for nothing is it said that a writer is "one on whom nothing is ever lost."  Somehow all that German is going to quietly rumble away in your subconscious and pop out with a plot and a story when you least expect it!

    "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

    by Diana in NoVa on Sat Apr 20, 2013 at 10:51:50 AM PDT

  •  Writing fiction is a compulsion (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Deejay Lyn, mofembot, NancyWH, NonnyO

    My old mentor James Lee Burke once said something to the effect that:

    A novelist is driven to write, it consumes him every day.
    I'm like that as well.  By the end of May I'll have five novels done.  I generate a story a month for my project.


    Most novelists, and this is true of me as well, when asked to describe how to write or what defines a writer, will inevitably describe themselves as the paragon of writer-tude.

    Anything Prof. Burke might have said or I might say on the matter, take it with a grain of salt.

    Tell me what to write. 'To know what is right and to do it are two different things.' - Chushingura, a tale of The Forty-Seven Ronin

    by rbird on Sat Apr 20, 2013 at 10:53:58 AM PDT

  •  My formulation of "compelled to write" (6+ / 0-)

    Points the telescope in the other direction. Since I came to this blog from the direction of academic research, the way I figure out what to write my non-scheduled diaries (and the occasional Top Comments diary) is to read what I usually read and wait for something I read to say "diary me!" Enough things do that, too.

    Besides, if you're taking an intensive course in another language, you might not be thinking in English all the time now. Don't worry!

    -7.75, -8.10; . . . Seneca Falls, Selma and Stonewall (h/t cooper888)

    by Dave in Northridge on Sat Apr 20, 2013 at 11:19:51 AM PDT

  •  You're most definitely a writer... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Deejay Lyn, mofembot, NancyWH, oceanview

    Life may have intruded for now to keep you from the actual pursuit of writing, but I've read your things in the past and I can definitely say you write very well.

    I promise:  I know what I'm talking about.

    I've no doubt you'll get back to writing when you have more time.  You are too good a writer not to.


    I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

    by NonnyO on Sat Apr 20, 2013 at 03:11:05 PM PDT

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