Saturday, February 20, 2010

This is NOT the Canyon

Blogging is not writing -- it is not the same as it used to be anyway. It's the difference between yelling into a canyon at night and waiting for a response, and yelling into a dark room full of people who are poised to yell something back.

In the canyon, you puzzle over whether or not anyone will even hear you.

In the dark room, you anticipate the responses you'll get, even before you start yelling.

Like it or not, this changes the dynamic. This is not writing, because this is not the canyon. Some may say that there's comfort in the dark room, that the isolation of the canyon was overwhelming. For me, writing is a solitary act. Once the work is out there, and you're reading it, then we can start a conversation. For now, I think I prefer the canyon.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

He Would Have Made a Great Blogger

At some point in his adult life, my father, the late Hanno Fuchs, began writing down his thoughts and ideas on 3 by 5 index cards. They ranged from random observational tidbits, to ideas for longer pieces about the political state of the planet. If I'm not mistaken, my stepmother, Judy Fuchs, is in possession of some of these notes, along with earlier writings of his, going back to his army days as a psychological propoganda writer ("Psychprop," as they called it) during the Korean War.

His gift for writing, and for thinking, really, are evident in those early pieces. I'll reach out to Judy and ask for copies, so that I can look them over once again, in order to get a sense of how my father was thinking about the world when he wrote those notes. In today's world, the little blue cards might have been "tweets," and the longer, typewritten pages could have appeared on or some other similar venue.

The thought begs the question, however, of whether or not my father ever intended his notes to be read by anyone other than himself. I have no doubt he craved an audience -- he was a writer by trade, after all; but he also knew a lot about the editing and revision process. And anyone I've ever known who considers himself or herself a writer cares a great deal about the careful tweaking of a piece. Often they're quite stingy about when they consider a piece to be "ready" for public consumption. Perhaps he'd cringe at how readily I spit these little First Drafts onto the computer screen for God's Green Earth to see.

Or maybe he'd just find it to be really fucking cool.

It occurs to me now that, either way, I once again follow in my father's footsteps. He was navel-gazing long before this guy was even a notion in his formidable mind.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Convincing Oneself: Embracing the "Expert"

A couple of days ago I was introduced to a room full of new colleagues. The person making the introduction was one of those education leaders who is admired and revered for their body of work and long list of deeds done in the service of young people, and those listening had some heavy duty resumes, as well; so I was honored when she spoke to the "expertise" I brought with me to my new position.

Or was I? Was it that I was "honored," or was I embarrassed? Proud, or mortified? In agreement with her, or afraid of being found out somehow -- exposed as the impostor I really am . . .

It's an interesting dynamic, and I'm not quite sure what to call it exactly. It's the flipside of humility, I suppose; one is not meant to think too highly of oneself in this life. One takes a compliment with the proverbial grain of salt.

I find myself wondering whether Barack Obama, the first president I can call a "contemporary," (I graduated from high school only two years after the POTUS did) has ever had this sensation. I tend to have it any time I face any kind of positive scrutiny; I can only imagine what someone of my generation feels when he's referred to as The Most Powerful Man In The World, or The Man Who Made History. I wonder if, like me, he runs to his wife and says, "You'll never guess what S0-And-So said about me!"

I'd like to think he's moved beyond this.

But more interestingly, I wonder whether Mr. Obama ever looks at his reflection in the mirror, as I do mine, and sees the eyes of an insecure 12 year old looking back at him. As much of an expert as my experiences may make me in the field of education and school transformation, that 8th grade kid with the cowlick and the Starsky and Hutch sweater that's just this side of out of fashion, will always be lurking back there, I think, making me wonder whether it's me they're referring to, or some other "expert" . . .

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Did You Hear The News?

While driving to work this morning, I heard a report on the radio stating that "long-form" blogging is losing popularity. The preferred form of communication appears to be getting shorter and more "mobilized."

I guess that's all I have to say about that.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Making Time For Writing

So here's an idea: Now that I'm working closer to home, and in a much "calmer" atmosphere (more about that later), perhaps I could do some writing each day in my office, before my other team members show up for the work at hand.

As it's been, I have been dropping Diego off by 7:20, Jackson before the mandated 7:40, and then arriving at the Education Service Center where I work by 8:00. My colleagues tend to arrive at around 8:30.

What if I sat down, logged in here and wrote for that half hour every morning? It might be the exercise I need to get me going again....

It's only a half hour, but that's better than nothing, isn't it?