Some of you may be wondering why I have been posting to my blog every day this month, especially when I don’t have anything of earth-shattering importance to say. The reason is that I have decided to participate in NaBloPoMo. Let me explain.
Once upon a time, I was a creative writing major. I would contend, from my own experience, that it is one of the most useless majors an undergrad can achieve—at least on the surface. I got to the end of four years of college, and they handed me a fancy (and very expensive) piece of paper with my name on it, granting me a bachelor’s degree acknowledging that I know how to put sentences together. This, in turn, gave my alma mater bragging rights to any literary achievements my future might hold.
It seemed remarkably unfair to me—they got both my money and credit for my achievements. I maintain that my institution of higher learning is not actually responsible for what writing talent I may (or may not) possess. I don’t feel that the esteemed English department added anything to my treasure trove of grammar, spelling, or punctuation skills, my ability to make use of literary conceit, or my fluency in poetic sensitivity.
However, after I graduated and moved out into the Real World to make use of my degree by teaching science to small children, I realized that perhaps I was selling them a bit short.
It’s true that my professors did not hone my skills through purposeful critique of what I submitted for class. I often felt my time would have been better spent back in my dorm room sleeping. And don’t get me started on my opinions about my fellow classmates’ ability to offer constructive criticism.
And yet there was one thing my degree program did that, in retrospect, I have found invaluable: it made me write.
I may be selective in deciding upon whom I bestow credit for helping me grow as a writer. But a big part of being a writer is actually writing something. I could have all the talent in the world, and it wouldn’t count for beans if I never wrote anything. So I am grateful for the practice that I got in the act of just cranking something out. It didn’t have to be the next Great American Novel, nor did it have to rival Shakespeare’s sonnets in eloquence or relevance. But I had to have something to hand in, or else the class would have nothing to review for the next session.
That ability to sit down and just write has stood me in good stead in my various jobs—writing an employee handbook, outlining a lesson plan, doing a class writeup, drafting an article for the newspaper, sending out letters to my volunteers, applying to seminary, writing papers at the graduate level, and now composing sermons. Who would have thought that such a “useless” degree would have helped me develop an unexpectedly valuable life skill?
At the same time, though, I have only been using my writing skills to fulfill other people’s requirements. I found that I was missing the long-ago days (before college, that is) when I would sit down and write for no other reason than the words needed to be let out.
Thus I began to blog. And let me tell you, this is far from the first time I’ve tried to begin such a practice; this is simply the first time I’ve stuck with it. I started blogging at UTS Global Trips this past June before leaving for Chiapas, Mexico, and I found the practice made me pay closer attention to what was going on in my daily life. I witnessed things more mindfully, and connected them in ways that, I felt, enriched the fabric of my own experience.
So when I was leaving for Phoenix in July to protest SB1070, I decided to begin my own blog here. The journey I began to chronicle that day never really ended, and so for the first time in my life, I’ve stuck with the same journal. Yes, four months really does set a record for me.
Yet I was feeling vaguely dissatisfied that I was going a week…two weeks…more than two weeks between posts. Then I discovered NaBloPoMo.
Creative writers/aspiring novelists know about NaNoWriMo, which stands for National Novel Writing Month, in which participants try to write 50,000 words (about 150 pages) in the month of November each year. Bloggers have since come up with an equivalent—NaBloPoMo, or National Blog Posting Month, where bloggers commit themselves to posting something to their blog every day in the month of November. At 10:30pm on November 1st, I signed up to participate this year.
I will admit to some concern that my entries will decrease in quality even as they balloon in quantity. But even so, perhaps I will pleasantly surprise both myself and my dear readers.
As always, I value and encourage your responses and feedback. In fact, I was telling a friend today that there’s no point to my writing if no one is reading, so I’m always delighted to discover that someone is on the other side of the screen! Thank you for your participation and your patience as I tackle this new challenge of trying to post every day this month.
PS: As a disclaimer, I purposely did not name my alma mater, because in spite of everything I posted here today, I loved my school, and I did not want to give them any bad press. My dissatisfaction was with my choice of major and my perceptions of the department, not the institution itself. -lm