Creative Biting, or How Meeting with Some College Students Sparked Something

REGULAR READERS of these missives — all three of you — will recall an almost 15-year history of on-again, off-again blogging. There have been fertile periods, the occasional collaboration, new focuses and themes, and — no small point — friendships made. Blogging has been a rewarding endeavor.

When I mentioned this history to the director of the writing center at the university where I work, he asked if I would meet with some of the student staff who were interested in relaunching its blog as an additional way of helping their peers. I dropped by the other day and had a delightful conversation with eight or so students and the director, a faculty member in the English department. We talked about editorial calendars and engaging content, about guest posters and tips of the week, about posting regularly and tags and categories, about writing with a genuine voice and encouraging the kind of back and forth that made the whole thing so much fun once upon a time.

When I left there were the expected thanks for my time and thoughts. The gratitude, though, went both ways.

My efforts here have been admittedly spotty. I could make all kinds of excuses about being busy, but as has been pointed out, we all get the same 168 hours a week. It’s up to us to determine how we spend them. The ones who create make the choice to spend it creating, just as I make the choice to spend it dicking around on Twitter.

In sharing my experiences and perspective, I could feel the urge returning. The urge to create and share. The urge to make the world better — YES, I KNOW THAT’S CORNY AND I DON’T REALLY CARE BECAUSE IT’S TRUE DON’T @ ME — through the creative work I believe myself capable of.

That urge was fueled by the curiosity of those students, and by the counsel I offered in return. It was if there were a giant neon sign blazing in front of my eyes: “TAKE YOUR OWN ADVICE, BOYO.”

So that’s what I’m going to try to do. Thanks to a group of interesting, funny, smart students who — and this part is important — want to use their talents to help their peers. To make the world better. | DL

Quitless Protection, or How Rereading My Old Posts Made Me Want to Try Again

FROM TIME TO TIME I like to revisit the relics of my many abandoned blogs and take a look at what was on my mind at a particular point in time. What I often find is that the writing isn’t too shabby and the thoughts genuine — it’s really me in those pixels. With the benefit of the holiday week off and a desire to write more in 2018, I’m trying again.

So welcome back to Dadlibbing. I enjoyed its mix of observations on fatherhood, pop culture, sports, books, and such, so much so that that’s the one I’ve decided to resurrect. Hope you enjoy, and come back, won’t you? | DL

A Smack in the Face About the Need to Be Creative

THE THREE gifted storytellers spoke with passion, eloquence, good humor, and conviction about how they do what they do, and why it matters, and when they were done–no, even before they were done–I was reminded of why it’s so damned important for me to find the time to tell my own stories.

I’m in Hershey for the annual conference of a professional organization I’m fortunate to be part of, and the same thing happened at last year’s gathering. I had encountered a couple of folks who work in my field and chatted with them about the struggle of creative work outside the office. The conversation had turned to blogging, and one of my new friends confessed a desire to return to it:

Like me, she wants to write beyond her job; like me, she’s had it fall by the wayside of late. And so we exchanged contact info and pledged together to get back on the horse.

I can’t say it happened for me. Too many other things have gotten in the way–the job, the commute, the house, the family–but the truth is that one needs to make the time for these things if they are that important.

And they are, at least to me.

Yesterday, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, a college communications director and freelance writer, and an alumni magazine editor addressed more than a hundred people rapt with attention in a crowded meeting room. Their topic was “Telling Your Story: Good Writing Is Still Good Writing in Any Media” and was meant to inspire us to be as creative as possible whether in a tweet, a 2,000-word feature, or anything in between.

Inspire it did. (Search for “#CUPRAP14” on Twitter and bask in the accolades.) For me, though, it did more than that.

Hearing this diverse trio talk of telling your story, no matter who’s listening, no matter who’s telling you not to bother; hearing them exhort us to write with honesty and fearlessness; hearing them urge us to find truth in the universal as well as the minute; hearing all of this and so much more was a smack in the face that got me thinking about my own calling. Not my job, but what I consider my calling.

My gift is the ability to tell stories–I have no doubt of this. Stories can be told in many ways, to many audiences, across many platforms, and I am doing it to a small degree, but not nearly enough. I have no doubt of that, either. I have more stories to tell–my own stories, in my own way.

I need to start telling them. Not want. Need. | DL

Chocolate, Professional Development, and Writing Beyond the Job

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THERE WAS chocolate, of course, as we were in Hershey. Even better, there was astoundingly rich camaraderie and fellowship to match the professional development offered by this year’s annual spring CUPRAP conference, a gathering of secondary- and higher-education communications professionals.

As chair of the group’s conference committee, I encouraged attendees to tweet the sessions using the hashtag above so that we could get some nifty online conversation going and allow those who couldn’t make it to follow along. And it worked wonderfully. (Go to Twitter and search for #cuprap13 and you’ll see what I mean.)

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Okay, So It Wasn’t 1,667 Words a Day; I STILL Had a Good Month Writing

NOVEMBER STARTED with high hopes. But as the month draws to a close, I will emphatically not be among the thousands of writers celebrating the completion of their works and hence their victories in National Novel Writing Month.

blogrssAt the same time, on this final day of November, I am very happy to have had my best blogging month in … years, probably. These posts will never get published, and no more than a couple of hundred people, if that, is likely ever to see them, but I’m writing, goddamn it, and it feels good. It’s as if I’ve reconnected with an old friend and realized over a couple of beers how much I missed him.

So for those who have stuck with it from Shallow Center and Poor Richard’s Scorecard on through to Dadlibbing, my heartfelt thanks. And to the newcomers getting acquainted through Facebook and Twitter, welcome. I’m grateful that you’re here and hope to give you more to read in the weeks and months to come. | DL

Image courtesy of digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net