I started this blog in 2010, coinciding with my first semester as a full-time English professor, and now I’m in my sixth straight year in the same field but at a different institution, and in a different state. I initially viewed my blog as a place to share my thoughts about writing, about reading, about place. Since then, I’ve written about other subjects, too: teaching, editing, running, music.
Not counting this post, I’ve written nearly sixty posts in this space since I began, but I didn’t develop consistency until 2015 when I posted more than in my previous five years combined. 2015 was my “Year of the Blog” you could say. With 2015 speeding toward a conclusion, I began anticipating 2016, and while doing so, I received an opportunity to begin blogging every week for Altarwork, a wonderful site created and curated by the super-nice Jason Ramsey. (See the “Blogging” tab above for links to my pieces there and elsewhere.)
Before I said yes to the possibility, I talked it over with my wife. It sounds exciting, I told her, but the weekly “deadline” felt potentially intimidating. She wisely told me that if I did it, there would be less time with other writing projects. I had considered this possibility, but it was affirming to hear my wise wife tell me this in her own words.
As someone who writes in multiple genres, often focusing on one for several weeks or months at a stretch, I thought this would be an opportunity for a similar extended genre focus. All of this to say that much of my writing energies the past six weeks have been directed there exploring subjects that I haven’t (and probably won’t) address in the space I’ve created here at plainswriter.com.
I’ve discovered the weekly “posting” to be an enjoyable endeavor, not (yet) panicking or scrambling for material about which to write. Because I don’t keep a journal–have never really been able to keep one despite at least a dozen attempts–a blog post is really my “polished” (to some degree) journal entry.
The writing process has steadily become more standardized even though I have not set out to construct a certain process. I jot down an idea in my notebook. The next day I return to that idea and jot down a page or two of impressions, sometimes a working title. The following day I sit with my open notebook beside me and begin typing on the computer. I piece together a draft, moving from one topic to the next without concern for coherence or clarity. Later that day, usually after a few hours doing other tasks, I return to the draft and straighten it, polish it, and send it for review. A few days later, I begin the process again.
As I am steadily generating more content with my Altarwork posts, and even with all of my posts here since, I treat the posts as second or third drafts of personal essays. There are ideas in the posts I purposefully leave undeveloped with the intention of returning to these posts at some later point to deepen them. Until then, however, I keep writing, exploring subjects, learning more about myself, and hoping to communicate with my readers, wherever they might be.