Sunday, December 11, 2016

No Answers: A Slight Tangent From Phonics

I have always liked the phrase, "blank page," with the plosive bilabials.  Something in the way my mouth forms to shape the sounds feels as powerful as the potential that an empty Word document--or a cleanly-lined journal--feels.

But tonight I find myself tired and browsing through unpublished posts.  I came across this one from over two years ago.  Enjoy.

Oh, and forgive the aphorisms, too.

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I find myself sitting before a blank screen tonight.  I used to revel in the idea of a blank page--the alliteration of the "blank page" punctuates some of the plosive emotions I feel sitting in front of a blank page.

Some writers may feel the paralyzing fears of writers' block. 

Tonight, however, I am not suffering from writers' block.  I am suffering from the mundane and exhaustion of this winter.  Like the rest of the MidWest, I am trudging through this winter, getting up early to teach classes and going to a second job.  During one of my classes this past Saturday, we were talking about managing time and classwork and stress.

"What can we do to deal with stress?" I asked.  The class talked about some of the regular answers--exercise, taking breaks, talking to people, eating right, and all the rest--and we started talking about how stress can get to be too much.

"And then what?"  

One gal with bright red hair has a soft-spoken spunk I have grown to love.  "I'm going to smoke a cigarette after class."

Another gal talked about withdrawing for weeks.  Another young man talked depression.  "What do we do when we can't do what we should do?"  I was asking them more than that.  Sure, we were talking about dealing with stress at school and balancing life, but I was asking for my own answers.  What do I do when I don't have time to write?  What can I do when I can't balance my own life?  I want to write.  Students expect me to have these answers.

The class turned to me.  Someone asked what I did to deal with stress.  "I run.  I get up early."  Then I took a breath and said something like, "I don't have any answers."

And that's the thing about writing about writing.  You have to find your own answers.  No one can give the answers to you.

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