NaBloPoMo: Writing about Writing

In an effort to write more regularly, I decided to join in with a month-long writing prompt series: NaBloPoMo  (National Blog Posting Month … I think?). It means I could write on a new topic every day. Notice I said “could”.

Even a casual perusal of this blog reveals that consistency has long been a challenge for me. I tend to write like ketchup: nothing for a long time despite much pushing and prodding, then a whole lot at once.

In my academic writing, I have become resigned to working in cycle of extended procrastination followed by mad, usually tear-stained productivity. My creative writing follows a similar, if inverted course: when I’m writing articles or editing my thesis, I often don’t have time or the mental energy to write creatively. It’s only when the work deadlines have passed that I can turn back to writing for fun.

Now that the ink has dried on my thesis and I’m wandering the no-persons land of post-PhD under-employment, I can turn again to writing on the blog.

Except, the question always remains: what to write about? Enter the prompt series.

The first topic, a soft-ball if ever there was one, asks respondents to share how they manage “a bad day”.

My response, no doubt replicated by most participants, is that I tend to write about the things that trouble me. I might not always hit “publish” — there are always far more drafts than there ever are finished products — but I do try to work through problems by putting pen to paper, or rather, fingers to keys.

When I wrote Being a Mum without a Mum, it was after several weeks of what felt like non-stop illnesses in the family. Drained and exhausted, I was feeling the loss of my mum, who passed away from Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma two years before my first child was born. But I dithered on whether to publish it. It’s such a personal piece, and I am reluctant to complain when I know I am very, very lucky to have two (mostly) healthy kids.

As it turned out, that post generated some of my most-treasured comments. So many kind people wrote to say how they felt the same way, or that they understood those feelings of isolation. And in turn, I found some solace.

The Threenager Shopping Manifesto was also written in response to a particularly arduous parenting experience: a trip to the mall. Hanging onto my sanity by the narrowest of threads after my son spent the morning running around like a march hare, “accidentally” knocking over displays, and befriending local curmudgeons, I found the best way to cope was by turning his antics into a hopefully humorous post.

Writing about our various renovations lets me feel a sense of overall accomplishment, even when smaller projects are moving slowly (or spiraling out of control). I can look back at our current renovation, or our acreage property and remember how the process took time, energy, and more than a few tears before it all came together.

And writing like this, in response to prompts? Well, I’m not yet too sure what good it does.

Maybe check back in tomorrow, and I might have a better answer?

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