A Writer’s Obligation

I got an email yesterday from the author of one of the few blogs I follow, a blog that has been influential in my life, saying that she was shifting things in her life and had deleted the entire contents of her blog, to start fresh.

There’s that tricky line again when it comes to being a writer, and being a writer with readers. What is your obligation to them? What is your responsibility? I think you definitely need to do you, and if something isn’t working then change it. If deleting all your past content – or quitting your job, or moving – is the way you need to cut ties and start new, then that’s what you have to do. But at what point do your actions affect others? If you quit your job, what kind of void are you leaving, and who will pick up the slack? If you move, you’re saying to your friends, “I’ve just changed the nature of our friendship without your input.” If you delete your content, you’ve now taken away the entire foundation of your platform, and thousands of words of wisdom, encourage, and humor that drew people in in the first place.

I would go through the archives of this blog and just read for encouragement, read for a pick-me-up. I can’t do that any more. It would be like if I went into a bookstore and found that my favorite author had pulled their entire backlist because they wanted to “do something new.” So now I don’t get access anymore to the words that came before, the words that drew me in in the first place?

It begs the question: At what point does our creation stop belonging 100% to us? At what point does the reader actually have a bit of ownership in the work we’ve put out there? After all, without the reader, we wouldn’t be writers.

Learning to Use My Noggin

Slow down, sit with it, and think it through.

I’m beginning to adopt this practice in my life. It stems from my desire to be a better student, yet I find it applies to many areas. I’ve always been a great student, the kind that can toss off assignments like no big deal and get high grades. But I never feel like I’m fully committed to the classes I’m taking, essentially because I don’t have to work hard. This semester I wanted to change that. I want to sit with my readings, and think about my essays, putting together thoughtful, well-written assignments that I know I’ve done a good job on. Instead of just picking a random paper topic I want to put some thought into what I want to explore and what I want to say. I often leave this to the back of my brain to do (and, I learned last semester in Creativity class, that’s part of the way we incubate ideas), but I want to actually sit with no technological distractions, with a piece of paper and a pen, and think. It really helps to focus the project and clear the way.

I’ve started adopting this at work, too. Instead of letting my brain churn on the details as I work on other things, for instance, I sat down today with a notebook and wrote down “Things I Know” and “Things I Think” (in relation to an upcoming event). My productivity might remain the same, but I wonder how my outcome will change. Instead of throwing things together, will my thoughtfulness about them allow for a greater impact?

Lorelai & Leslie: The Fierce Female Characters Who Have Been Filling My Life (And Should Fill Yours)

With the break between semesters in January, I took to Netflix, as do we all. Since their release on Netflix in October, I have been deep into Gilmore Girls, my absolute favorite show. I also discovered Parks & Recreation back in December, and wanted to binge-watch all six seasons before the final season began in January. Because of this, my life has been filled with the influences of Lorelai Gilmore and Leslie Knope – which are the best influences a gal could have. Here’s why: Continue reading

Me or Them?: Audience

audienceI have great ideas. Or so I think I do. I think I know what’s best for a project, and what I think an audience wants, and what I think will work well for them. My job has me in a position where I run programming for a specific audience, crafting and delivering information to help equip them to a make the transition into graduate school.

One thing I’ve learned, and am still learning, is this: I can spend all day coming up with great ideas that I like and that I think will work, but at the end of the day, if it’s not what my audience needs, who cares? When I conduct focus groups I say just that to the students: “It’s useless for me to come up with things. I want to hear from you, to hear what you need and what we can do to fill that need.” Continue reading

The Music of 1994

cassetteWhoever you are, music shapes you.

Back in the day there was no iTunes, no digital, no tap a button and you get a song instantly. There was Strawberries and cassette tapes and this new thing called CDs that were super expensive (and you had to buy the whole thing for just one song). If you wanted songs to keep you would wait by your stereo with a blank tape, and when the song came on the radio you would hit record – always cutting off the beginning of it – and get the song to listen to. I often think back to the strongest memories of music I have, and they revolved around the 1994 Casey Kasem Top 100 Countdown. I had taped a bunch of songs off of it – the best songs of the year, I remember taking that tape with me in my Walkman to the bus stop (winter mornings), and riding on the bus to school listening to these songs that, unbeknownst to me, would stay with me even twenty years later. Continue reading