This is kind of a typical Sunday for me. I spent a couple hours grading papers from my composition classes. One of them was their journals, which aren’t usually too bad to grade. I usually give them a few topics to write on and they choose one and do an informal writing on the topic. Journals provide a break from every day academic writing. Before I wised up some, I used to think up or look up seven or eight topics for my students to choose from, but then I realized that two thirds of them all wrote on the same one, so I limit it to four or so. In this batch, the topic of choice was cell phones and/or MP3 players in the classroom. I also try to give them a creative topic, a personal reflection topic, and the “writer’s choice” option to catch the ones who want to do something different. These are the ones I most enjoy reading. I mean, like hw many reasons are there for allowing or not allowing cell phones in the classroom? Everyone always finds something to write about, and when I read the journals, I learn some interesting things about my students.
Then, after I finish grading papers, I tend to do something involved with my wannabe writing aspirations. Today is no different. I thought I’d blog, but a sudden question hit me. How many people are really going to read this blog? Why would I even have the audacity to believe that anyone would actually want to read anything I’ve written? This is an important question to me right now, and here’s why. Though I am retired from the Missouri Public school system, I am teaching a couple of classes for Three Rivers Community College. I have been thinking about leaving there after this spring and devoting my time full time to writing. So you see, the question of, “Is actually anyone ever going to read my writing?” is an important one in my decision.
Another question occurred to me also. One that has struck me a few times over the years. Why do I write anything? Why do I write this blog? Why do I try to write novels and plays and screenplay when my success has been limited? How did I get in this hamster wheel of writing to begin with and were my reasons justifiable? My questions have gone even deeper to “Who am I actually?” Maybe all of these questions are natural as a person ages, but I think I am going to save the who am I questions for another blog and just deal with the writing questions for now. This blog after all is supposed to be called clods from the writer’s ditch.
I enjoyed writing in junior high and high school. Even in college I managed to get A’s on what I wrote. I have several layers of BS that I can sling at will. I had never really thought of making money from my writing until I was a broke college student and our campus literary magazine had a contest with a $10 prize. That doesn’t seem like much money, but to me, in 1978, it was nearly a fortune. I knew the editor of the magazine and had a secret crush on her. I just knew that my relationship with Iris would ensure that I won that prize. Well, I didn’t. I took a couple of independent studies on creative writing and made A’s on them, which fueled the fire.
I’ve never told anyone what I’m about to say now, but in college, I wanted desperately to do a creative project as my master’s thesis. I wanted to write a novel. I won’t mention the professor’s name, but he told me that my work wasn’t any good and that some people should just not even try to be writers. I’ve never forgotten his words, and I don’t think I’ve ever forgiven him. I set out to prove to this professor that he was dead wrong about me. Even though he has likely never given me a second thought, I am still trying to prove myself to him. The thing is with writing, the successes you do have are never good enough. I understand when a singer says you are only as good as your last record. A writer is only as good as his or her last screenplay, novel, poem, or play, and I have never felt like my writing was good enough.
This is a topic I’ll write more on at a later time, but I really don’t think I can now because so many thoughts are going through my head that what I say will most likely not be sensible.
I will leave you with a link to Walt Michaels Is a Weenie in case you want to check it out.