So here is my first blog. I admit that I’m a little nervous. I’m nervous that no one will read it. Or that those who do will find it self-important or obnoxiously irrelevant. Who am I, after all, to write a blog? I’m not famous or all that unusual. My students find me a bit of an oddity, but that’s mostly because I’m not their normal. My friends find me interesting but there are only about 10 of those. I know for certain that I am long-winded and that ours is a society that favors textual brevity. And I don’t really want to edit...if I did, I’d try to publish this stuff, like, in a book. I’m also nervous that no one will read it because there will be no oompf to it...that it will be trite or mundane. And I’m worried about the opposite -- that it won’t be whimsical enough or that, at times, it will be too political and too feisty. All of those reasons are why it’s taken me several years, after much prodding from my 10 friends, to actually start a blog. But at the end of the day, the biggest worry? That I actually have nothing to say. And since we live in a society in which this is a pernicious reality for so many strong women, I have decided to blog.
I wrote my first novel at age 7...a Nancy Drew like mystery. I went on to write 3 more which my mother dutifully typed up (like as in TYPED...on a typewriter). The first one was 200 pages double spaced. That woman is a saint. I then went to a college that demanded writing...my early career was writing (policy analysis and media relations)...and then off to grad school where my shelf-laying, dust-collecting dissertation sits at a cool 300 pages. Then I started to teach writing and coaching basketball and my own writing disappeared from my life until 2015 when my friend Emily Wakild said “hey, you wanna write a book with me”? So we did and it reminded me how much I love to write. As I left full time teaching I found I had SO MUCH time on my hands that I thought “I really should write.” But the problem is that I am impatient. I plan to write another book and hopefully a fun piece of children’s fiction, but that long form of writing that is so very hard. But in the meantime, as I await that process, I have to have something to motivate me daily (or weekly) to put pen to paper (letters to screen). Thus this blog.
As an academic and as a novice writer, I worry about whether or not this stuff will live eternally to haunt me. Will it’s superficiality or inaccuracy or uncertainty become a noose around my neck before I can actually even attempt to publish publish my writing. But then I find yummy encouragement from other bloggers...
Andrew Sullivan, for example, has a terrific essay on why he blogs, and I found myself shouting YES! as I read it. Here is my favorite quote from it:
"A writer fully aware of and at ease with the provisionality of his own work is nothing new. For centuries, writers have experimented with forms that suggest the imperfection of human thought, the inconstancy of human affairs, and the humbling, chastening passage of time. If you compare the meandering, questioning, unresolved dialogues of Plato with the definitive, logical treatises of Aristotle, you see the difference between a skeptic’s spirit translated into writing and a spirit that seeks to bring some finality to the argument. Perhaps the greatest single piece of Christian apologetics, Pascal’s Pensées, is a series of meandering, short, and incomplete stabs at arguments, observations, insights. Their lack of finish is what makes them so compelling—arguably more compelling than a polished treatise by Aquinas.”
So it’s ok for smart, deliberative folks to ponder, to spew, and to struggle! As an academic that vulnerability is intimidating to me but also incredibly enticing. I want to engage with readers NOW not 3 years from now. As Sullivan says, “The blogosphere may, in fact, be the least veiled of any forum in which a writer dares to express himself. Even the most careful and self-aware blogger will reveal more about himself than he wants to in a few unguarded sentences and publish them before he has the sense to hit Delete. The wise panic that can paralyze a writer—the fear that he will be exposed, undone, humiliated—is not available to a blogger. You can’t have blogger’s block. You have to express yourself now, while your emotions roil, while your temper flares, while your humor lasts. You can try to hide yourself from real scrutiny, and the exposure it demands, but it’s hard. And that’s what makes blogging as a form stand out: it is rich in personality.”
So (hopefully) this blog will have a fair bit of my personality, a fair bit of humorous storytelling, and a fair bit of engaging content ranging from environmental education, to history, to armchair philosophy. If you keep reading, I mostly just hope the blog makes your day better and that you will send me a comment with your reactions and responses. Send me ideas, corrections, compliments, or critiques (keep em kind!). And know that as I write, I will be keeping Sullivan’s insight in mind, “To blog is therefore to let go of your writing in a way, to hold it at arm’s length, open it to scrutiny, allow it to float in the ether for a while, and to let others...pivot you toward relative truth. A blogger will notice this almost immediately upon starting.” So, here I go...