48 Titles From My Future Blog

Ok. I read a super cool blog post this morning that had some great ideas for being a better blogger… and by “great ideas” I mean new, inventive ones that aren’t the same basic repetitive ones EVERYONE blogs about. The one that really stuck with me was this: “Write lists of titles.”

GENIUS.

Because, of course, I have all sorts of things that I like to think and talk and write about — but as soon as I think, “Man, I should probably write/post another blog post, since it’s been a while…” my mind goes blank. (Probably because, as I learned from Rachelle Gardner this morning, “Desperation makes a very poor muse.” True dat.)

So today, I would like to share a list of titles that I hope to someday actually author! Leave a note in the comments section if there’s one (or several) that you’d like to read, and I’ll try to bring them into being sooner than “someday”. =)

48 (or so) Titles From My Future Blog

Why I Left the Lutheran Church (or maybe “Why I Left the Secret-Code-Name-So-I-Don’t-Piss-People-Off Church”)
Why I’m Terrified of Drug Cartels, but Still Like Mexico (or “The Thing That Terrifies Me More Than Anything On The Planet”)
Why I’m Glad I Married a ‘Weirdo’
Why Reconciliation Is the Best Thing Since EVER.
How I Accidentally Made A Million Dollars (Wishful thinking there!)
Why The United States Education System Is Broken (maybe someday I’ll be able to write “And What We Can Do To Fix It” !)
Why I’d Rather Work For Connected Families Than Be A Teacher
The Biggest Reason Religious Education Wins Over Public Education
The Thing That Frustrates Me Most About Christian Leaders
Why Connected Families‘ Message Explodes My Face With Awesomeness
Why Mental Organization and Workspace Organization Don’t Always Go Together
924 Things I Never Knew I Learned In College — Till They Were Really Useful
293 Reasons Why It’s Important to Major in a Subject That Interests You, and Not in One That You Just Choose In Order to Have a Job Later (insert my life here)
Why I Despise 50 Shades of Gray, Even Though I Haven’t Read It.
On Why I Am A Feminist… and What The Heck That Means
The Mistaken Faces of Feminism (Or at Least the Ones I Dislike)
Pros and Cons of “Conservative” Ideals
Pros and Cons of “Liberal” Ideals
The Preacher and the Patriarchy: A Personal Reflection
Why Lakes Are Infinitely Superior to Swimming Pools
Why Media/Ad Portrayals of Women Make Me Mad.
How to Use Your Learning/Thinking Style to Your Advantage
Why Being Multi-lingual is AWESOME (or “Why the USA is dumb for not requiring more foreign language proficiency”, or “Why immigrants are way smarter than most Americans give them credit for”)
Why I Care About My Country, But Am Not A “Patriot”
Music That Helps Me Get Work Done
Why “The Sing-Off” Was Way Better Than American Idol Will Ever Be
Why I Think The Government Should Get Its Nose Out of the Marriage Business
Is the US a “Christian Nation”? (Research required! I believe there is a book by this title…)
Why My Generation is Put Off by Traditional Evangelism (and/or Traditional Missionary-stuff)
394 African Authors that Everyone Should Read (because I doubt your high school and/or college bothered to teach you about a continent that is home to 1/7 of the world’s population. Whoops.)
Why Ngugi wa Thiongo Rocks My Socks
203 Ways White Supremacy Hurts White People (not my original idea… but one I love because it explains so much!!!)
987 Weird Things That Help My Brain Function Properly
239 Books I Appreciated Much More Once I Was An Adult
Why I Read Shakespeare For FUN! =)
398 Ways White People Were Asshats to First Nations Peoples (And Why We Should Call Them Whatever the Heck They Want to Be Called)
Why “Whiteness” Is A Total Crock
Why We Can’t Just “Move On” From The Oppressive Sins of Our Past
Why I Love Post-It Notes
On Privilege, and What To Do Once You Realize You Have It
[related] Why I Hate and Love My American Passport
“Yes, I Really Mean It When I Ask for Socks for Christmas”
Why Small, Mass-Market Paperback Books Make Me Happy
Why e-Readers Explode My Face With Awesomeness
482 Reasons Why Water is The Most Tasty Liquid On The Entire Planet!
My Husband is So Awesome That You Don’t Even Understand… No, Really.
752 Life Lessons from the Bike Ride Kid (“I Feel Happy of Myself!”)

I seriously recommend this exercise to anyone who loves to write but struggles with choosing topics. Who knew I had almost 50 blog posts lurking inside me?

Don’t forget to “vote” on your favorites in the comments if you want to read them sooner than whenever I get to them!

Words from My Freshman English Teacher

This weekend Daniel and I have been working hard to condense and organize our possessions, which were packed rather haphazardly before our move (no idea who did that…). In the midst of the sorting today, I encountered my old high school English portfolios and flipped through a few pages. Then I started looking for a very specific page.

My teacher for Honors English 1 terrified me. She was a short, stout, intensely crotchety woman with a shrieky voice, and if your writing stunk she let you know it! She single-handedly terrified the lot of us into learning to write. By the end of my first year, I had earned an A- in her class and I am STILL proud of that accomplishment! But the most memorable thing about Mrs. Novissar for me is her own writing. I’ve never forgotten what she wrote on my first-year final portfolio, and today I got to read it verbatim from the familiar, powerful loops of blue ink on my title page:

Dear Rebekah —

I have to say that this portfolio shows off all your strengths and weaknesses. Obviously, the strengths far outweigh the weakness, but it seems that the very factors that make you a superb essayist in the creative vein work against you in the analytical papers. It’s that damn lightness of touch which, alluring though it may be in one kind of paper, can signal the death rattle in another. That lightness of touch keeps you from digging down into the bloody muck of human passion so that, instead, you skim the surface blissfully unaware of the darker depths!

Is that not flipping AMAZING??? Ten years later, and I can still recite portions of that from memory. And I do, frequently, when telling with pride how she whupped my lily-white writer’s behind into shape!

I finally learned how to dig deep, Mrs. Novissar — but don’t worry, I still have that damn light touch, too. =)

Do you have a particular comment or critique that has stuck with you for a long time? Or do you remember a specific teacher who helped you along the way? Tell me your story in the comments!

Response to The Writer’s Manifesto

This morning, I found the following manifesto in my inbox:

http://goinswriter.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/The-Writers-Manifesto.pdf

 

It piqued my interest, so I read it.

To summarize (though if you’re at all interested in writing, I suggest you give it a read; it’s short), the author argues that writers need to stop writing for their audiences (or in hopes of fame and accolades) and write only because they are writers and writers just write!

 

On the one hand, I found myself agreeing with him. There is definitely something to be said for being careful not to become the chameleonic panderer who writes anything if it might bring attention. On the other hand, I found myself turned off by the author’s constant distinction between “real writers” and everyone else. So I can’t be a “real writer” if I think about my audience when I write? I’m only a “real writer” if I write “for the sake of art” and nothing else?

I don’t know about you, dear writing friends, but I was very struck by the idea of the rhetorical situation during my studies in college. This basically means that whenever one sets out to communicate, one must consider all the facets of that communication’s context, like the audience, the desired message, my biases, etc. But if I do what the author of the manifesto suggests, it seems that actual communication is no longer the goal of writing anymore — only art.

But isn’t communication an integral part of art anyway? I mean, why do we have museums and art galleries? Is that so you can go look at your one piece of art that you made and congratulate yourself? NO, it’s so everyone can go see your art and receive the message you sent, thereby completing the circle. Art isn’t art without an audience, because art is all about communication. Or, as we said in my high school English class, about “removing the veil” and “illuminating the problems of the human condition”.  If there is no recipient, then the communication is lost and there is no point.

Now. Is it possible to write for yourself? Yes. I do it most days — and I have a stack of full-up journals to prove it! Is it silly to sell your artistic soul in hopes of fame and fortune? I think so — and I think the manifesto author is right when he says that often keeping your focus on the art of writing can result in accidental fame. But do I think I have to be some sort of audience-repudiating art purist in order to be a “real writer”? Absolutely not.

I write for myself AND my audience.

That’s MY writer’s manifesto.