Learning to Write: Reflections

Pedagogical Explorations: 
Reflection Tree Assignment
For: Practicum - Jimmy Butts 
Fall 2016 Semester

After trial and error and many years of frustrated self-doubt, I discovered that I write my best and easiest when something in my life has been upset, overturned, a crisis already on or nearing the horizon. Sadness, it seems, inspires me, and I can’t help but laugh at its irony. How strange it is to have this thing I love most in the world require trouble, such a gloomy strain of fuel, to run on. But tried and true, it’s nearly seductive how anger unwinds my sentences onto the page. A tamed life, a content one, is when my creativity is at its weakest. This isn’t to say that I don’t want to be content and that unhappiness is something I do on purpose; just that I know ahead of time, going in, that my work might take a bit of the backseat until I hit the next speedbump in life. And that’s okay, because every worthwhile choice requires some sort of sacrifice. This has taught me that my writing requires a certain savage hunger. It means I do my best work in desperate surroundings; that chaos acts as

This has taught me that my writing requires a certain savage hunger. It means I do my best work in desperate surroundings; that chaos acts as catalyst, for me. It demands my acceptance and understanding that it (my ability, inspiration, will to keep on goin’ on) comes and goes and is similar in this respect to the pull and push of the tide. This has made me comfortable with change, more willing to let go of things when they need to be let go of. Just as it is with people: you don’t own or control your friends, but you do have them.

It used to bother me that I couldn’t seem to write every day, or want to write every day. To be honest, sometimes it’s the I-would-rather-pull-a-tooth-kind-of-last thing I want to do. And we are all somewhat slaves to our moods, at times. I don’t think occasionally getting tired of the things you love is that uncommon. I think sometimes we just feel obligated to have consistent dedications and undying passions because that’s what makes us worthy of admiration, or so society says, it’s the golden ticket to heroism, we’re told. But sometimes thinking of writing makes me feel sick and sometimes I’m so tired of it I want to scream, kick it curbside, tell it to Get Lost. And so, on those days, I just don’t do it. I don’t write. And with practice, I’m getting better at not punishing myself for it. Later, usually, this episode is then bookended by a week of near-manic inspiration, restoring my equilibrium in the process.

An unbalanced approach? Sure. But what is writing if not a mirror to my moods, an indicator of my interior life’s status? It’s a wild sort of romance, we have.

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