I’m spending my day in another county with my Speech and Debate team, as they take on a number of other schools in our local league. There are a few things that demand my full attention as their coach during the day, especially in the morning and between rounds, but for the most part, I am the adult in the room who is here to coach, manage, and even babysit their personal belongings as they bravely face their judges during competition.
It’s in these moments of material daycare I spend reading, writing, and even grading.
This morning, though, my time has been spent reflecting on my writing (or lack thereof) for the past few months.
I decided today that I would write, intentionally, a draft of a new personal essay, and I did accomplish that goal. It’s about what I call the “It’s Enough” factor, where we are writing shorter pieces for immediate publication and gratification on social media. We take a picture or write a quick thought, post it to our followers and the world, and then sit back while the likes and comments roll in (or at least we hope).
And when they do, we feel like that’s enough. We have shared our thoughts, engaged with our audience, and received some level of acknowledgment of our minimal efforts.
That should be enough, right?
Anyway, I felt nothing for it. What I’ve shared here is the essence of what I wanted to say. It’s not a stand-alone piece, and the direction I went after my initial argument was deeply flawed. I realized that my gripes are largely unwarranted, so I stopped writing.
That led me to brainstorm the other topics in my life where I am an expert: teaching, hiking, diabetes, photography, music, art.
I felt nothing for any of them, at least when it comes to writing about them.
Then I brainstormed more topics that have interested me lately. Personally, I have been deep-diving in American history; Greek, Roman, Egyptian, and Norse mythology; the origins of Christmas; all things related to music.
While they are personally fascinating to me, and I am getting a great deal out of these studies, I have no passion to write about them.
Here’s where I started to get majorly concerned. My passion for writing essays of any kind – even those sappy and inspiring pieces about gratitude, love, and peace – is, well, run out. At least for now. I feel like I’ve written about these things so many times, and my small audience of readers is probably getting pretty tired of reading the same thing, with the same message, over and over again.
I get that. As much as I like the stories of Richard Paul Evans and Nicholas Sparks, I get tired of the formula that, in the end of each work, says basically the same thing.
If I’m getting tired of these things, I can only imagine how my readers are feeling.
This is what leads me back to fiction, and I think that’s more than okay. As I have always loved writing on the edge between fact and fiction, it’s only natural that I drift a little to the left, a little to the right, of that line dividing the two.
I’m currently working on my next novel, titled Love’s Refrain. It’s set in Baltimore during two time periods: the early 20th century and modern day, and it’s a love story of two couples who have both experienced sudden tragedy and separation in their relationships. In a space in which love transcends our more earthly understanding of our existence, they join together in desperate attempt to help each other reunite with their loved ones before it is too late.
I’ve spent the greater part of 2022 researching what Baltimore was like in the 1920’s, especially relating to transportation and the development of Loch Raven, our watershed area. I’ve also been exploring the various beliefs in life after death, the foundations of heaven and hell (and everything in between), and the very real phenomena of ongoing spiritual love that living individuals have with partners who have died.
Yet, as much as I look forward to jumping fully in writing and completing this manuscript, I can’t ignore the itch to write something shorter, which is what originally led me to brainstorming topics for the personal essay.
Maybe writing this blog post is enough, for now, but I still want to create a short work of fiction before I fall fully into Love’s Refrain. This is the time of year where I usually craft a holiday story (you can read my collection of previously written stories, under the title of Gretchie’s Gifts, on Amazon).
Maybe I’ll tap into an aspect of the origins of Christmas that I’ve been reading about. Certainly, there are more than a few short stories that can come from there.
Updates to follow.
What are you writing about or reading these days?