The caption for this instagram picture was "fresh out of paragraphs." That night the statement was true. Working on a recommendation letter had exhausted me, not because I felt I had done anything physically exerting that day - it was a Sunday - but because I just didn't have anything else to say. And yet, I felt like I had to go on. I knew who the audience would be. I knew that this student needed this position. I wanted to help them in the best way I could. Writing is so frustrating at times.
Some of the other posts I have included on this revived blog talk about my expansive understanding of writing. The irony is that while I love to say that I am a writer, that I teach writing and that I work for an institution where many forms of writing are recognized, my struggles are real. I have SO much to say sometimes that I don't say anything at all. Scope! And then, I hear things like this:
"You have revisions to finish!"
"That's not a REAL article"
"Will it give you a CV line entry."
"Does anyone even care about this?"
My inner critic is relentless.
Two things are helping me mute this critic. The first is my Audible account. I'm currently listening to Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. It seems like common sense that the experience of listening would be quite different than reading but I marvel at how differently I understand her book when I hear the dialog in it or he exposition. As a listener, I recognize the nuances of her craft much better. Adichie does so much with characterization. In one sentence she gives some of the most intimate and insightful aspects of a character's personality. Obinze is legible to me. Auntie Ugu seems like someone I know. I even see in D.K. the younger version of some of my students and Adichie's description of him makes me think about my own assumptions when teaching students that were born in Africa but have spent their whole lives in America. Although I wonder how long her sentences actually are, her prose inspires me. What would happen if more academics listened to the prose of creative writers? Surely our rhythm would shift. I want to write in this more conversational way (hence this post). This book's popularity is well-deserved.
The other shaking shift is my start in a well-known national bootcamp for faculty. Because a number of my academic friends have completed the program, I was excited to begin. Last Sunday night was the first group call and just as I was sitting there listening and contemplating opening a Word Document to ediit something (who knows what it was), the moderator asked us not to multi-task. It was as though she were sitting right there with me in the home office. One of the lessons I took away was about consistency. Accountability is a good thing. In my small group of strangers, I feel a greater need to report my finished work. Because of this, I've made the effort to go to the library everyday even though I am visiting my parents this week. Arriving by 9 a.m has some perks. One of them is that I am remembering that this is what I used to do, before the year of exams, before the dissertation, before the twenty-five mile commute to campus, before starting at the university where everyone on your side of the hall keeps their doors closed and the construction outside your window has not ceased in three years.
This is what I will do.
This is what I do.
~I have spoken~