Write all the things

Notebook with Homer Simpson Pen
Write all the things by Tony Delgrosso (2011) CC BY NC-ND 2.0 via Flickr

I admit it, I’m kind of obsessed with my blog. When I’m not writing, I’m either researching what I’m going to write, thinking about possible topics to write about, or surreptitiously checking my page stats to see how many views I’ve gotten. It get an incredible jolt of energy out of sharing my words with the world. And it’s not even like I’m talking about anything important!

I have always liked writing, ever since I was a little kid. However, I was never much interested in writing stories, exactly (though I love reading fiction). I liked writing essays and letters and postcards. I especially liked looking things up in almanacs and encyclopedias (I was very proud of my ability to use an index) and reporting them on lined sheets of notebook paper in my best handwriting.

When I was in high school, I had a terrific time writing essays in AP English. This sounds kind of weird in retrospect. I think there was something about practicing writing essays under timed conditions that did something to my brain. Whether it was the thrill of working against the clock, or that sense of fierce joy that emerges when you’re in a state of flow … I realized that I was one of the few people who actually *liked* writing the darn things. (I had a similar experience when I went to the high school journalism competition at KU and took part in the feature writing event. It was such a rush to be given a scenario with some instructions and just go with it until you hammered out an article.)

My English teacher took me aside once and pointed out that while she loved my whimsical essays with nontraditional metaphors and unapologetic personality, they were not the kind of thing that AP graders were used to scoring. I agreed I should probably tone it down for the exam. I frankly can’t remember if I did or not.

Anyway, I took my love of writing to college and became an … environmental biology major. As an undergrad, I was enrolled in a college with a “Great Books” curriculum so even science majors (which were B.A. degrees) took a fair amount of literature, philosophy, history and writing courses. I used to tell people I really liked being a science major, because it was easier to do problem sets than write long papers. (To be fair, writing lab report writeups also takes forever.)

My experience with the 1L legal writing course killed any confidence I had in my writing competency. I understand that the course was trying to each us to write in a very specific way, but it was incredibly frustrating not to be able to “re-do” assignments once they told you what you did wrong and gave you a lousy grade. Where’s the learning opportunity in that? When I was a legal intern and drafted advice letters, I had the supervising attorney proof them and make suggestions, so I could revise them before sending them to clients. This process helped me write better letters. I probably still couldn’t write a legitimate legal brief to save my life, though.

One of the things I love about this blog is the sense of agency and autonomy it gives me. It’s a way to reclaim “writing” as a skill that I can feel good about, as well as continue to improve my ability to communicate with my audience. (I can’t explain how happy I am to have an audience. It’s scary and amazing that humans will actually read the words I type up here.) It also provides a motivation to write, in that I feel I have cultivated an audience with an expectation of being entertained. I certainly don’t want to disappoint!

I have so many ideas, some of which will make interesting posts, some of which will … not. I usually can’t tell which are which until I actually write the piece. (And of course, things that are interesting to me may not be interesting to my readers.)

Mostly, I do it because it’s fun. It’s helping me reshape my personal narrative, the “story of me” I tell new people when I meet them. It especially is improving the tone of the stories I tell myself.


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