Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Wherein I Return to School After Several Years’ Absence

“Your assignment for next week is to write a one- to two-page, double-spaced essay,” said the teacher, “about anything you’d like.”
One to two pages, I thought.  About anything I’d like, I thought.  Easy! Child’s play! I write all the time—I’ll just pick a topic I can put in my blog! I thought.  And there the thoughts ended.
I lead a rich life, full of story fodder.  “There’s a book in that,” my mother is constantly telling me, whether I’m talking about my dogs or the horses I regularly ride; travel to exotic islands (Santo Antão, Cabo Verde; Necker, British Virgin Islands; Folegandros, Greece; Orcas, USA); or the breast cancer I’ve been dealing with for 12 ½ years now. 
Of course there are stories here.  For the past several years, I’ve written these stories out in blogs: in The Dilettante Traveler for all those exotic locations (dogs and horses occasionally included); or in I Thought I Was Done With This for the still-ongoing, often tedious and boring, and yes, occasionally petrifying experiences of living with cancer. 
The problem for me is that I write fluidly and fluently for my own pleasure, to tell my own story on my own terms in my own time; and that the moment someone issues a command, or just a request, or even the merest hint of a suggestion that I write something specific for them, the taps shut off and the trough full of rich, life-sustaining inspiration goes instantly, echoingly, frustratingly dry.
Ugh,  I thought, five days after class when I had yet to come up with a topic I wanted to write about.  I’m taking this class so I can learn to be usefully critical of other people’s writing, not get bogged down in my own, I thought.
Good thing I chose Editing and not The Art of the Novel.
Calin Taylor


Anonymous said...

Ugh, I know what you mean. Maybe you can take one of your previous blog posts and rework it. I can guarantee that as soon as you get into the content, inspiration will flow. Good luck!

CMT said...

No . . . that was my essay. That's what I handed in. Inspiration? Still down in the dumps :)

I'm off to Idaho to fix that . . .