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Post-Papers and Pests

Well, that’s it. With an anti-climactic file upload, my coursework at the Divinity school is complete. It’s hard to believe–after thousands of pages of reading, countless conversations, enjoying the levity of youtube videos during paper writing and study sessions, and writing those papers–it’s over. This place has shaped me and changed the way I see the world. So, as excited as I am to leave the finals crunch and have no paper deadlines looming, there is a bit of sadness mixed in.

Living in Durham has been a great experience, one that I’ll miss a ton. One thing I won’t miss: cockroaches. I’m sure there are cockroaches in Oklahoma and Kansas, but I didn’t share a space as intimately with them as I have the lovely Durham variety. Roaches were a regular sight in our first Durham house, less so in our current home. Every once in a while I get to see one again.

Like this morning, when I opened up the dishwasher only to see a little brown critter scurry away under what I thought were clean dishes. To top it off, the soap door didn’t spring open on the previous three attempts to wash this particular load. So, this morning, my excitement at the first successful cycle in a couple days was tempered by the unwelcome visitor.

Cockroaches are kind of like paper writing for me. Actually that’s not true at all. I at least have a love-hate relationship with writing, cockroaches are only worthy of the latter.

Given that love-hate thing, it’s bizarre that after turning in my last paper I’m sitting in the library writing this post. [The strangeness is tempered (or heightened?) by the soundtrack to these lines: Marc Anthony’s consummate hit “You Sang to Me.” Special thanks to Molly Williamson.]

This space between finishing schoolwork and starting work leaves me wondering how, or if, I’ll keep up my writing. Writing doesn’t come easy for me and it doesn’t often feel life giving. But words are important, as folks here have drilled into me. While talking about writing with my good friend Taylor, he passed along a practice: write 500 words a day. If you don’t write regularly, your writing will stagnate or decline. For some people 500 words a day is a drop in the bucket, for me it sounds like trying to run a four-minute mile.

My proclivity for self-disdain means I’m rarely content, much less happy, about my writing. I’ve heard similar sentiments from other writers, but I’m skeptical. Those people seem too good to have doubt or struggle with the craft of writing. They seem more likely to say, “I haven’t read something until I’ve written about it.” Given that rubric, I’ve only really read a handful of books. I brush off statements like those, probably to relieve myself from the burden of actually having to do more.

So this post is my confession and request for your help. I’m a diligent worker, but with no defined tasks (read “assignments”) I can degenerate into the realm of not doing much. Seeking ordination means I’ll be given opportunities to write for ordination paperwork and sermons, but I want to do more than that. I’m going to take the challenge to write more regularly. 500 words a day sounds like a lot, so I’ll start with 500 words three days a week. Who knows, maybe I’ll even enjoy it. I can’t promise they’ll all be posted here, but it will keep me honest, meaning regular posts. I’d love to have you along for the journey. Conversations are more fun than monologues anyway.

What’s your relationship to writing? Do you have any practices that help you cultivate your writing skills?

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2 thoughts on “Post-Papers and Pests

  1. I’m so glad you’re doing this! While you may not think of yourself as much of a writer, I do, and I think this will be an excellent exercise in keeping up with your skills. PLUS, who knows! You may even write a book 😉

  2. This is a great idea, and really convicting for someone who’s been out of school a year and has done little to no writing. Keep sharing your thoughts on here–I’ve read two posts, and both have been really great!

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