Fall Reflection

Fall 2016 Reflection -

Attempting to write my “non-fiction” assignment turned out to be a surprise adventure. My path on this adventure I originally anticipated to be fairly smooth. “No problem, I’ll give it a few hours over the weekend,” was what went through my mind in early September.  But no, the path turned out to diverge several times, and I had to traipse back to the beginning a few times, turn around and try again. This assignment turns out to have been an adventure that produced this reflection on how I write, the understandings gained from discussions and readings in this class,  different powerful techniques for writing, the strategies to get me out of ditches I fall into, discovering what I am comfortable with and what challenges I need to embrace, and adding to the list of writing possibilities for the future.

Originally I planned on writing a piece for my school’s parent newsletter. When listening to strong pieces by classmates back in June, I noticed how I was pulled into the pieces that come from a place of passion.  I used that observation in my writing this summer.  When writing from a place of passion, my heart allows my fingers to quickly write everything down, sometimes bits here and there to be embellished later.  I turns out embellishing the core works for me.  I notice that I have to get the general ideas down first.  I don’t have the patience or memory to create fullness each step of the way.  Generally, I write best with a solid structure.  I did let this structure step to the side when writing “The Alley”, my creative short story. I took the exercise S. King gave me to just write and see what comes out, and finally it worked.  But with a non-fiction piece I feel I need the structure, along with the passion.

I also have the pragmatic, time-efficient side to me when contemplating what am I going to write for this open-ended non-fiction piece.  Yes, I will write a piece for the parent newsletter (due in November, for the December issue). This provides a good purpose for writing.

I started it last week. The “hurdles one encounters” is the theme. I begin with a personal story about a literal hurdle, and I want to move into hurdles students encounter when learning how to write their amazing stories and understandings down. This is fine, but I don’t feel the same passion. Should I just push ahead? See if I can add passion later? (Don’t think so.) And what about a structure for the piece? I need to reach out for alternatives - I need to give a twist to “cause and effect” standard structure.  In Teaching the Neglected “R”, G. Bernabei shares alternative structures.  Maybe one will work for this piece.

During writing time for our second September class, I decided to begin the non-fiction piece.  No newsletter topics appeared before me, but a past topic I had begun as an exercise in class was worthy of exploration. The topic is gender neutral names, and noticing how we react to such names, and ultimately my question - is this coinciding with the concept of building our understanding of people nevermind their gender or sexual preference (a hot LGBTQ issue). The weak link, or big question in writing this piece is “who is my audience”? Could it be for my dreamed up snazzy, colorful blog of articles I’ve imagined writing? (“Parenting” from my learning autobiography could be one piece.) And what is the title/theme for this blog? “Scattered Thoughts” (another connection to my learning autobiography)? “Explorations of People’s Tendencies”? (“People’s” because the word “human” feels more man-ish to me than the concept of all people, male and female, young and old.) “Attempting to Figure Things Out”? What title will most succinctly, with a touch of lightness, be the umbrella description for my articles? Who do I want to appeal to? Who is my audience?

I am at a conundrum. The steep path down is unavoidable. And, from experience, I know there will be another steep path up.

I am stalling.  I am allowing my “inner critic” to surface. Maybe I am not cut out to write the facts and figures, the statistics, the details, the “real” stuff, the “non-fiction” material.

Should I try another path? Forget the efficiency of writing the piece for the newsletter. I can find time to do that later. I will go back to passion, because that has served me well in the past. What taps into my passion now?  

I watched the second presidential debate last night, and what I wrote on facebook earlier that day, “Continue to be who and how you are, to astonish a mean world with your acts of kindness” Maya Angelou, proved to resonate with me afterwards. I decided this morning to see if I can start a Acts of Kindness revolution.  It probably won’t go anywhere, but hey, it’s an attempt.  

Here it is:

Acts Of Kindness (A-OK)- a revolution in the making
For all of the humble folks out there that commit these small, medium or large acts once a week, once a day, once an hour, share, share, share.
Share this post. Share your act. Continue to share your kindness.
We are building a revolution of kindness. Let the world know.
"Continue to astonish a mean world with your acts of kindness." Maya Angelou

How can I transform an action idea into a piece of writing? One idea is to wait and see if there is any response and then share the collection of acts of kindness. This falls into the journalism category of writing. The amount of time needed to wait for responses does not help me.

Now, and I mean NOW, is my time to write a non-fiction piece! Push ahead… but nothing is coming. Yikes!! Is this what is referred to as “writer’s block”? Well, I am not going to allow it to stop me, no way.

Maybe I should get dressed, and then I’ll be able to surmount this hurdle? Just a slight change, ehh? Maybe I should go for my low-key hike now, instead of as a reward for getting a draft done? Maybe I need that second cup of coffee?

Hmm, this feels like a writing hurdle.  Trying to get over this hurdle has some passion in it. Can I transfer the passion to the newsletter piece?

On reflection, I had the opportunity to experience the writer’s adventure on this journey. Specifically, I have appreciated climbing over the boulders of structure; I recognized the importance of panting with passion; I need to know who my climbing companion, (or my audience) is, ahead of time.  I have experienced the critic within me, and continued up the mountain anyway. I have strategies from experts at my fingertips, to decide which will work for the situation I am encountering. I can internally feel the importance of pushing myself, as well as importance of pausing to catch my breath. This has been one helluva good hike!

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