Thursday, October 29, 2015

"There's Only One Reason for Lack of Creativity: Fear." ~Elizabeth Gilbert

Due to my unique perspective of being a 40 year-old single woman who has never married, I have been asked to guest blog in November for Fort Worth Weekly’s romance column Xs & Os. At first I was thrilled with the idea of being published in a local, well-read publication. Then the fear set in. I can't do this. No way. What if I write something embarrassing about one of my Exs? What if one of my students reads it and starts thinking of me as the old hag cat lady librarian? Okay, well I am the cat lady librarian, but definitely not the old hag!

I soon realized the total irony of the situation. You see, one of the classes I teach at Fort Worth Writer’s Boot Camp is called Write Fearlessly (which, coincidentally, I will be teaching  December 5th). In the three hour session, I guide my writing students through whatever is holding them back in their writing. That irony struck me this morning, while journaling, that I need to take a dose of my own medicine. I teach a class on working with fear, but I'm letting my own fears block me.

When it all comes down to it, I have a fear that most emerging writers have: what will everyone think? Unlike many of my students,  I don't have a problem journaling about it. I don't have a problem writing out what I think in a Word document and saving it. I do have an absolute fear of actually making this information known to the world. Posting it on a blog is opening my world up to the entire planet. That scares me.

I worry about how people I may be writing about will react. I am concerned that maybe my perception of a situation may be different than what actually happened. Like all humans, I am an emotional creature and sometimes I will respond to a life event in an emotional manner.

What snapped me out of this fear was the quote above, by Elizabeth Gilbert, showing up in my Facebook feed this morning. The only thing that is stopping my creativity is fear. I can't worry about what I may say about others in my writing. I can only worry about not writing.

This is really the problem that I've had with all of my blogging efforts in the past. I’ve wanted to be as authentic as I possibly could, but putting it all out there was just too much for me. So, it is absolutely time for me to re-think my writing and remind myself that my story is too important to be held back. I also need to revisit my favorite Anne Lamott quotes, one that I use in class to break the ice with my students over their fear of what they have to say about others in their writing:

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

When I Do Not Care to Share

try not to be a negative person. I strive to be a happy, compassionate person. I'm usually pretty open for an introvert, but there is one thing that I just can’t stand doing...I am not a sharer of my things. I never have been. My mom blames it on my being an only child (um, that's kind of her fault), but I think it's psychologically deeper than that for me: I don't like the expectations it creates in the person I share with.

Expectations get set when you share. People expect you to continue to share with them. Letting someone use your microwave once does not mean that will be the only time they'll want to use it. They get the expectation that, because you have a microwave, and you let them use it once, they can come use it any time they want! Same goes for storing items in the fridge, or making a cup of coffee.

You'd think, being a librarian, I would have a problem with the inherent business of my job: sharing books. When they aren't mine, I don't have a problem. When they are…well, there is a reason I am hesitant to loan books out to people, even my closest friends! I rarely ever get them back! I have to hound! I have to beg! Even after doing so, the friend has either: loaned it out, dropped it in the tub, left it in their trunk (where trunk gunk destroyed it!), gave it away during a clean out, or just doesn't bother to respond to the request. I love my friends, but I don't trust them with my things. They don't usually come back in the same condition as they left.

Professionally, while I have no problem sharing library books, don't like it at all when someone asks to borrow something else of mine- even tape. I once had an administrator who would come into the library for meetings and never have a pen on him. He would always ask to borrow my pen. The one I was writing with- I use good pens, usually gel ink, which I purchase for myself. It wasn't just so he could sign off on something, he would take it for the whole period! Sometimes he'd try to sneak off with them. I would hunt him down, though. That's when I learned…pick up the free, give-me pens and give one of those every time he asked for one. I also started keeping boxes of red pens to hand to anyone asking for one. They didn't always like having a red pen, and some still wanted to use mine, but when I explain that it's a pen they can keep, they tended to not have much of a problem with it.

Sad to say, this sharing problem I have even happens with my romantic relationships. One ex-boyfriend still has a set of folding chairs, an outdoor table and a hair drier. Okay, I admit, I left all those in my rush to get out of the relationship and cut them as a loss. The one that really hurt was the ex who ended up losing two Pyrex dishes and three writing books. How do you lose this stuff in your own house?

There are some things, like those with the Exes, that I know I will never get back. I loaned a small rolling table, with stools once, to a “friend.” The relationship ended, but my stuff stayed at her place. No offer to give it back. I work with her now and I still don't get acknowledgement of the loan. It's as if she felt she earned that in the friendship. 

It's not that I don't want to build relationships. I do. I just wish it didn't involve me sharing my things. I think, because I am so conscious of making sure things get returned in a timely manner and in just as good of shape as they were when I received them, it hurts that people I care about or need to develop relationships with don't do the same. I respect others property. I wish they respected mine, as well.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

What I've been doing professionally all this time...

Let's just say that the last two years have been very busy for me. It's been quite cyclical, in more ways than one!

First, I quit my job as a librarian in May of 2014. I was just burned out and felt that my soul was being destroyed by standardized testing. How does this happen to a librarian? Easy, when the librarian is used as the go-to test proctor for every test on campus...147 hours of really learn that the library is not all that important to your administration.

I knew I had to have something to escape to, so my dream of starting a writing workshop happened much earlier than retirement. That's how I came up with Fort Worth Writer's Boot Camp. It has kept me extremely busy, in finding instructors, scheduling classes, teaching some myself, and figuring out this whole marketing thing.

Two months after I quit, I got a message from a librarian friend at the school where I had taught many years ago. It was basically one of those, "I found another job, now I'm scared to leave this great school to whomever comes along." Did I want to go back? Yes, please!

So, I'm in my second year as a librarian at my dream school, as well as my second year running a business. With all of that, how could I possibly have time for anything else? Well, I did get a book written and self-published called Tips and Tricks for Classroom Management in the Real World. It is pretty much all the organizational tools I used to keep my classroom functioning without going insane! It's all about being real and offering realistic solutions to problems you'll be presented with in a real situation. The focus is mostly for secondary schools, which helps because there is so much out there for the elementary level, but very few for the bigger students.

That's it on the professional level. My other writing has not fared as well, but I hope to turn that around soon.