Thursday, September 20, 2012

Seventh anniversary (of writing essays for the blog!)

by Richard L. Weaver II, Ph.D.
    
This is truly hard to believe — but I say this every year!  A seventh anniversary means the completion of about 364 essays and 364,000 words!  Had you asked me when I started whether I would reach this goal, the answer would have been an emphatic, “No way!”  I didn’t think it would be possible to make it for a single year, much less seven.
    
There are several observations I can share after seven years of writing essays.  The first is that I have discovered the best time of the year for me with respect to getting writing accomplished (composing essays) is January, February, and March.  Following the completion of reading my tenth-edition (Communicating Effectively, 10e (McGraw-Hill, 2012) proof copy (January 14, 2011), I wrote all 52 essays for 2012 before April 1, 2011.  Now, that doesn’t mean there won’t be others nor that there won’t be changes or that the order has been decided.  I always reserve room for further development.
    
Another thing I have discovered is that the very best time for writing essays is when I am most moved to write them.  The excitement I have about a topic can wane quickly, so to capture the stimulation means writing when the passion, pleasure, and delight are at their peak.  On our Southeast Asia cruise, for example, I was fortunate to have a sea day (call that a “free” day) to write after each port visit, so while the thrill was there, and while the specific facts, views, and experiences were fresh, I would compose the essay.  (The seventeen essays that covered our Southeast Asia trip were posted beginning in March, 2011, and continued for four months.)
    
Excitement is insufficient to sustain an essay.  Passion is great, but it takes more than that to complete an essay.
    
I enjoy writing my essays when I am traveling for several reasons.  The first is that I take my trips off as business expenses — so there is some (although quite limited) monetary gain involved.  Second, the material is fresh and keeps my mind active.  Third, when I write out my essays long hand, I have time to think through my information.  It is a slower process than when I write on the computer.  (I have no laptop, and I take no PC with me when I travel.)  Fourth, when I write out my essays long hand, I bring them home and type them into my computer.  This process is incredibly important for it is at this point I am able to polish, edit, and change my material.  The essay is strengthened considerably by this process.
    
There is another process that comes into play when I type my information into the computer.  So often, I do not know a great deal about some of the things I write about.  That is, I have no background or history of what I observe.  When I type material into the computer, I am able to do some serious research.  For example, when we were on the island of St. Lucia, my wife and I were introduced to the casava cake — about which I wanted to write but knew little.  When I Googled casava cake I not only found out the ingredients but discovered, too, the casava cake’s etymology, how to bake them, and where they are popular.  It was, indeed, a casava-cake education!
    
One of the ancillary benefits of this process of writing essays is the education I gain along the way.  For example, I never knew as much as I do now about each of the places we visited on our Southeast Asia trip nor about the island of St. Lucia where we stayed for a week.  I am learning so much!
    
Although learning was not one of the motivations for writing essays, it has proven to be rewarding.  I was a very good student in school, and I never had to push myself to work — complete papers, finish reports, or do my homework.  

Perhaps, the part of my education that I disliked most was working in groups.  I always preferred independent work.  Why?  Because I discovered quite early in my schooling that group members, in general, were lazy.  Rather than do their share of the work, often they would depend on the hardworking members and derive their grade because of them.  Never wanting to sacrifice a group grade because of the laziness of those with whom I had to work, I was always one of those hardworking, prolific, productive, and energetic members.  I never thought of it as serving as a cover for lazy members, I was eager to save my own neck!
    
In seven years of writing essays I have discovered there are some topics that are repeated, but I have discovered, as well, that it doesn’t matter to me.  Why?  Simply because I am an evolving, changing, thinking, creative person and, thus, I seldom look back to what I have written before.  I write essays on topics I am inspired about at the time, and my thoughts change; whether an essay is duplicated or not doesn’t concern me.
    
I go through very fertile times — like January through March, as mentioned above.  During that time, I come up with numerous new subject areas, and I have found that my best way of capturing (writing about) those topics is to write them down when they occur to me.  For that reason, I have note paper in my bathroom.  Often when I am exercising before jogging three days a week, I will abruptly stop what I am doing, rush upstairs, and write down the topic.
    
When I was driving to the Maumee Public Library (part of the Lucas County Public Library system), I thought of the title for my collection of travel essays (Exotic Destinations).  It came to me out of the blue, and I wasn’t thinking directly about that forthcoming book at all.  This is often the way a subject, title, approach, or way of saying something occurs — unheralded and unannounced.  What I have to do is be ready — prepared to capture it at once.  When I wait, the idea may not occur again, or it may even come back but in a new form.
    
The most fascinating thing to me about writing 364 essays is that I have even been able to come up with that many topics.  I have seldom had to search or dig deeply.  Now, I admit, I peruse a number of news magazines each week, and I read a minimum of two newspapers every day, plus I review books (one book is reviewed weekly on my blog); thus, I am bombarded by new and refreshing ideas on a regular basis.  I am truly delighted by and accepting of all kinds of information — and my travels simply add to all this material.
    
I am thrilled to have a blog.  I love writing essays, and I am pleased to be able to share my thoughts, ideas, and emotions with others.  If this wasn’t true, I would bring all of this to an end.  If you — my readers — have any ideas to add, or if there are topics you would enjoy seeing me write about, please contact me.  I always love hearing from my readers.
- - - - - -
“The importance of celebrating your anniversary,” is an essay at ArticleSnatch.com.  One of the comments in the article reads as follows: “Celebrating anniversaries can be one of the best ways to keep the spark alive in your relationship. When you remember where you've been and all the hard times you've gotten through together will be easy to hold, a series of anniversary ideas that come to mind.”  Yes, it’s about relationship; my writing is designed to promote a relationship between my readers and me, so it’s not that far off!

Susan Leigh, counsellor and hypnotherapist, has an essay, “The Importance of Anniversaries” in which she begins her essay saying: “Anniversaries are an important opportunity to stop and take time to reflect on the significance of a particular person, day or time in our life.”  She ends her essay with a comment that reflects where I am in essay writing: “We can take the time on these days [anniversaries] to value what we have done, appreciate how courageous we have been and give ourselves credit for our achievements.”
- - - - - - - - -
Copyright September, 2012, by And Then Some Publishing L.L.C.


   

3 comments:

  1. Congratulations on our seventh anniversary and keep up the great work!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. By the way - I meant "your seventh anniversary" not "our seventh anniversary." Hope no one is confused by it!

      Delete
  2. Maximillion Ryan IIISeptember 20, 2012 at 8:00 AM

    Wishing you many more years of great essays. I will eat a cake today in honor of the occasion.

    ReplyDelete

Essays, SMOERs Words-of-Wisdom, Fridays Laugh, book reviews... And Then Some! Thank you for your comment.