You know that feeling of WANTING to write but you have no clue about WHAT to write?

Yeah, that’s me in a nutshell right now.

For some strange odd reason*, I’ve been incensed by the small things today.

Or maybe the small things just added up which explains how I pretty much exploded into a sea of expletives when I started talking in the carpool on the way home.

I was ranting about other people’s inefficiency, which, mind you, brought to light my own. As soon as I had finished ranting, I found myself defending myself from myself.

In my head, I was screaming at said inefficient person during which I was mentioning disclaimers for not being able to properly prepare my own lesson plans (do outlines count?) because of reasons. I was enumerating my task accomplishments, comparing them to said person’s, defending my own inefficiencies while harping on that person’s.

Then my conscience kicked in. Let he who has no sin be the first to throw the stone. Or something like that.

It’s dangerous, this making comparisons. It’s ridiculous the way people make judgments. It’s hurtful how people get mad instead of showing love and understanding.

(My brain is at war with itself.)

But where do you draw the line between understanding and demanding efficiency?

Unfortunately, when you are a professional writer, you are competing with all the other kids who were at the top of their English classes. Your stuff may not—indeed, probably won’t—be the best anymore.


Seriously though, I realized this when I was in college when I saw how my papers were getting only average grades. Apparently, my writing was very “clean” according to my college expository writing teacher during a writing workshop. At that point I didn’t understand what that meant. At that point I didn’t know if I should be happy or offended. I remember staring blankly at her because I simply and truly did not understand.

Only later when I was checking my own students’ papers did I come to realize that “clean” writing meant boring writing. Technically speaking, I was an excellent writer, but my writing was dry, straightforward, and bland. How the hell do you manage to take stale bread and turn it into luscious ice cream?

This became more of a problem when I realized I had to figure out a way to get out of the Boring Box because I was going to teach writing to 9-year-olds and, eventually, teenagers. The only way I knew how to at least TRY to do this was keep on writing. I rarely shared my work with anyone because I was afraid of failure and rejection. The school website gave me a chance to get published by featuring a couple of my movie reviews that first year at work, but I never had the guts to submit my work to newspapers, magazines, or journals. Until now, what I consider some of my best work remains tucked away in paper journals at home or on this blog (my favorite is this review of the second Christian Bale Batman movie).

I’d like to think my writing has improved even if only marginally. The greatest challenge remains to help my students improve on theirs and to get them to actually LIKE writing.

*Yes, I know. Redundant.

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