Awake from slumber

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A dead tree fell over in our neighbor’s backyard, during a storm the night before Halloween, this past fall. I took this picture a few days later. It’s still there.

Good morning!

The title of this post is ridiculous on a personal level: if there is one thing I have been doing less of since my last post – 31 months ago! – sleeping is that thing. For the purposes of this blog and blogging in general, however, it is appropriate for the moment.

I want to begin blogging again, and perhaps this post is my new beginning in that sense. What I don’t know is whether I will continue to blog here at Dischordant Forms or elsewhere. I’m less fond of the name than I was several years ago when I started the blog, and I also feel separated – by time, circumstance, and perspective – from the writing I did then.

I am not entirely out of practice, mind you. I have had another blog for several years, and while that one is also currently neglected, I’ve continued to post there irregularly (and as recently as this past summer). Additionally, over the past several seasons I have pounded out more than a handful of unfinished drafts for this place. Dissatisfaction, for one reason or another, has consigned those posts to purgatory.

What do I want out of my blog?

I want to write. I want to have a modicum of discipline about it. I want to have the satisfaction that comes from building a body of thoughts and expressions that I can refer back to.

I’m a person who likes to put boundaries around certain things that I do. Consequently, when I begin a post, I generally do not consider it finished until it contains most of my thoughts on the subject, in an acceptable form and logic. (These posts can end up being 1500-2500 words.) If it doesn’t meet that standard, the entire post then goes into the purgatory file, never to be revisited again.

Add in job demands, time management issues, and laziness, and I’ve got no blog posts to speak of!

As I’ve gotten to this place today, I’ve come to appreciate, to some extent, my learning experience writing brief comments on Facebook this past year. Twitter, Facebook, and other social media tend to be perfect for reacting to things, for better or otherwise. I’ve experienced that myself, particularly with respect to the 2016 Presidential election. Many times, I clicked the “What’s on your mind?” box on Facebook and created a reaction-based comment, considered it for a while, and then either scrapped it entirely, or came up with something more concise and thoughtful before clicking “Post.”

What I learned over time was that it’s okay to pre-edit or modify your post, and to not post your entire thought if it is not something that you feel you are expressing in a way that satisfies you. In other words, while I may still scrap many things, I can still post abbreviated versions of ideas that are begging to come out of me, without requiring that it be a treatise first.

So, are shorter posts the answer to my blogging issues? Possibly, partially.

Ultimately, I don’t know that the name of my blog really matters, or that what I wrote in the past matters either. This post is for Dischordant Forms, and we’ll see where it heads from there. Thanks for reading, and Happy New Year!


“This thing between me and my notebook”

The notebook

For several days, the single-subject, college-ruled notebook that I bought back in September has been whispering my name. I bought it at Target before a trip to visit my parents, wrote in it a few times while I was there, and brought it back with me. Since then, it has been neglected; covered by an increasingly precarious stack of CDs.

For a while, I didn’t even know where it was, but at some point along the way it revealed itself to me, and started catching my eye. From time to time, I would return its stare for a moment, but I generally ignored its attempts at attention.

I don’t have anything against that notebook. However, it was buried under a bunch of CDs, and it was something that I would have to leave my chair to retrieve. I didn’t feel like getting up, or moving all of those the CDs.

After a while, I began to wonder why I didn’t just get up and get it. It began to be a “thing” between myself and this notebook. It wanted me to uncover it, open it, write in it. I resisted the urge for a while… but for what reason? The contents therein will never be published, nobody will see it. Nobody cares what I write in it. So why was this such a difficult thing for me?

I think the answers to this question are many, but the two main ones that come to mind are 1) some embarrassment about – and frustration with – my own penmanship and 2) my misplaced belief that most of what I write will be of no consequence.

These aren’t rational ideas to cling to, but they’re a part of my personality, and always have been.

Penmanship

My mom has beautiful penmanship. I’ve always admired her handwriting, which is easy to read and very consistent. None of my siblings can write as neatly as she does, but I’ve seen her sisters’ handwriting in greeting cards, and one or two of them have a similar quality and style. I’ve always wished that I could write like they do, but I simply can’t.

My handwriting is not pure cursive, but a combination of cursive and single letters. I mix cursive letters with certain printed letters, such as ‘k’ and ‘b’ at the beginnings of words, and capital letters like ‘Q’ and ‘L’ and ‘I’ (among others). However, sometimes I use a cursive capital ‘I,’ although I tend to try to avoid doing so, because my upper-case ‘I’ ends up looking like a lower-case cursive ‘L.’ I’ve never been truly consistent; I think that what I use depends on my mood and the situation.

Regardless, if I sit down to write – a letter, for instance, or a journal entry – I can start out with decent penmanship, but that has a tendency to disintegrate into slurred words as my hand struggles with the task of keeping up with my brain. Of course, when I go back later to read what I wrote, I find myself faced with the prospect of figuring out which words and sentences I had intended to write, but which came out as mostly illegible waste. This has been discouraging for me, and in these instances I’ve generally tended to retreat back to the comfort of typing.

And the notebook has fallen by the wayside for an indefinite period of time, again and again.

Journal content

As for the issue of content… this may sound stupid, but I feel as if there is a significant portion of my brain that has no idea how to journal. I have all these hangups about whether I’m journaling properly, whether what I’m writing is boring or pathetic, how it looks when I correct a mistake, and how much more difficult it is to write clearly and fluidly by hand when you’re a) out of practice and b) used to the instant-edit lifestyle that is blogging (and typing in general).

Looking at that last paragraph, these ideas seem mostly irrational. Regardless, they’re real hangups that I’ve always struggled with. Fortunately, they haven’t managed to permanently kill my desire to journal: it lies in wait, in some part of my brain, waiting for me to feel that itch again.

Getting back into it

On Thursday night at 11:55pm, after several staredowns between this notebook and me, I relented. I stood up, extracted the notebook from beneath the stack of CDs and whatnot, and covered the front and back of a page with my increasingly erratic handwriting. I wrote about my struggles with journaling and penmanship, and made note of some things that I can do to improve my experience, such as making some writing space for myself. I have this slight hope that writing more frequently will result in better handwriting quality if I make that a priority.

I used to write a lot of letters. In the age of blogs and email and mobile phones and social media, the letter is a somewhat rare and ancient phenomenon, and I’m amazed when I think about how often I used to churn out pages upon pages worth of letters every month, and how long ago it was that I stopped doing that regularly. But the letter doesn’t have to die out, and neither does the journal. There are millions of people who still journal and/or write letters, and that includes my mother*, so I’m not revolutionizing anything by doing this, other than a part of my own lifestyle. I just know that, over the past several years, my habits have changed with technology, for better or for worse**.

*By the way, her handwriting is still consistently high-quality. I find her ability to journal and to write so well and so consistently to be inspirational, and am glad to have that inspiration in my life.

**Blogging has been a major “for better” part of this equation, of course.

Closing

This notebook is, as I said at the top, a single subject notebook. It has 70 pages, several of which are already used. But that’s okay. As I contemplated my inner desire to get more involved in hand-writing on a more regular basis, I made plans to buy a larger notebook. However, I’ve decided not to waste this one. If I can fill the remaining 60-odd pages in this notebook, I will buy myself another one, along with a better pen. Those will be my material rewards for doing something that is almost certain to have, more importantly, mental and spiritual benefits.

It’s a good time to start – or revive – a good habit or two. Hopefully, I can make this one of them.

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Thanks for reading this post. In addition to the internal “urge to write” and the external “notebook staring me down” influences, this post was inspired in part by the following article:

Snapshots from the writing desk by Andrea Badgley at Butterfly Mind… a great post by a great blogger! Thanks Andrea.

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Posted by Russ at Dischordant Forms. Follow me on Twitter at @DischordantRuss. Comments are welcome!