Writing Is Hard

I AM trying to think of something to write but I can’t think of anything. Man, writing is hard.

I think it was Ernest Hemmingway who wrote; “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” Man, that sounds lovely, doesn’t it? It’s so poetic and romantic. Although great writers like Ernest Hemmingway have no problem coming up with something interesting to write about, I, on the other hand, am no Hemmingway.

For me, writing is like sitting down in front of the notepad and trying not to slit my wrist because the words just won’t come out. And when they do come out, I find myself constantly erasing and rewriting. Dramatic? maybe. But accurate, yes! Writing is not as poetic and as romantic as Ernest Hemmingway makes it out to be. Writing is work.

Sometimes writers write because they want to or other times they write because they have to. But for any writer on that spectrum to suggest that writing is like a romantic journey, where there is no mechanics involved whatsoever, is straight up insane.

A writer is constantly writing and rewriting. They are never satisfied with their work, they’re constantly, to quote Malcolm Gladwell, “….always in a constant state of revision.” And it is there, in that state of constant revision, that writing no longer becomes enigmatic or romantic.

Producing something of great value out of that state of constant revision requires structure, discipline, and mechanics. In other words, and unlike Hemmingway’s statement, there is, in fact, something to writing.

A truer representation of what the writing process is actually like was captured by Mark Twain, when he wrote; “Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.” What Mark Twain was essentially acknowledging, is that the actual act of sitting down to write is not difficult. But it’s that constant state of revision that makes the journey of writing less poetic or romantic.

Image by Client Kit

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Syllabus Week

SYLLABUS WEEK used to be that you come to class, do some ice breakers and listen to what is expected of you for the rest of the semester. But those days are long gone. For whatever reason, some instructors are now dishing out homework on the first, second, or third day of classes. And that’s just insane!

Syllabus week has been rough, too. One homework here, some over there, and another one in my backpack. Why are professors so insensitive?! Have they forgotten that we have other responsibilities?! 

I had one professor say to me; “If you’re taking more than 15 credited classes, you better do yourself a favor and drop this class because I am expecting a lot from you.” Though he was smiling when he said that, I don’t think he was joking. Another professor said to us that she’s planning on handing out challenging homework this semester because, last semester, students did the bare minimum.

If you’re handing out homework while students are just doing the bare minimum, then obviously dishing out more homework is not the answer. Perhaps, your students might be doing the bare minimum because they’re trying to find a balance between other responsibilities?

Refusing to acknowledge that homework is not the end-all-be-all, signifies that you are out of touch with your students. Also, that you admire your ego more than you value their well-being. Students are not simply soulless robots solving equations and crunching up numbers all day, we have other obligations, too! Majority of us are working, trying to navigate complicated relationships, and are involved in extracurricular activities.

I, for example, have 16 credits to worry about, an internship to complete, and a host of other responsibilities that are in constant need of my full attention. To the student like myself, it is ludicrous and insensitive to expect us to fully commit ourselves to more demanding assignments.

It may sound like I am indifferent to homework, but that’s not the case. Like most teachers, I agree that assigning homework to students gives us the opportunity to strengthen what we’ve already learned. Furthermore, I believe that homework – as an idea or as a practical tool of measurement – is absolutely essential because it encourages competition. This element of competition is what drives innovation and creativity. Without competition our schools and our lives would be dull and disinteresting.

So, you see, I don’t think that having homework is a bad thing, but what I think is that having too much of it, especially on the first, second, or third day of classes, can be discouraging and overwhelming. The introduction of syllabus week was meant to give us a snapshot of what the rest of our classes might look like. In other words, it’s a time to relax and to get to know the people who you might be spending the rest of the semester with. When we depart from this general school of thought, syllabus week not only becomes stressful but it also primes us to do the bare minimum.

Though doing the bare minimum or dropping a few classes sounds appealing right now, I will not do that. Rather, I’m going to hunker down and get all of my homework done because that’s just who I am. I love the challenge.

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The Night’s Sky

CAN YOU REMEMBER that time when you looked up at the night’s sky and gleamed a thousand seas of stars twinkling at you? How did you feel afterwards? Were you drunk with wonder, while your intoxicated imaginations stumbled through your mind; were you still and content with the profundity of it all, or simply, did such sightings make you want to dream a thousand dreams? When I think back to those moments, I feel, not content, nor tipsy with epic imaginations, but rather mercurial—because at any moment my memory might suggest that such apocryphal sightings have been well-worn’d.

I love to count the stars at night—they’re uniquenesses and atypical personalities makes me happy. It’s not unusual to find one star particularly friendlier than some others. For instance, and on multiple occasions, I’ve had one star say, hello, by periodically blinking at me, while another one, grumpy or, perhaps in a hurry to get somewhere, not say anything at all—and just zoomed right past me!

What bothers me, more frequently than disremembered dreams, is that such hair-raising moments might never, ever last forever. And this is a real, legit fear of mine—you have no idea! Trust me, I realize that, in this rigid relationship of I, the author, and you, the viewer, only words are capable of paving the type of imaginative roads that will truly lead you to see the many residencies of the aforementioned in my mind. But the problem is, that words, sometimes, can lose their reverence and emotive-utilities when trying to convey something as oracular as the night’s sky. So, with all that’s left are these futile words of mine, I guess when I say that I stare at stars, irregardless of their friendly or hurried personalities, and how I always worry that our moments together will become irrelevant, you have no choice but to take my word for it.

“For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream,” wrote Vincent Van Gogh. In other words, and in plain liminal language, Vincent Van Gogh believed that staring at stars made you dream a thousand dreams. Is that true for you? When you thought back to when you stared at the night’s sky, could you remember if the constellations of stars provoked you to dream a thousand dreams? For me, I would not claim certainty like Vincent Van Gogh, because I think to do so would be moronic and oratorically reckless, but my opinions of stars in the night’s sky, despite how mercurial they make me feel, does run feverishly similar to that of Andre Norton, who once wrote; “There’s no night without stars.”

Main photo from Unsplash and taken by photographer, Alex Bartha

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