I wrote my first post/essay of the day at about 2:00 in the afternoon on yet another day that I told myself I would spend writing. This morning I put off writing by making blueberry cornmeal pancakes from scratch and doing this thing people who have a dishwasher they don’t use do but I, lacking a dishwasher, never do: wash dishes immediately after dirtying them. Cooking, eating and washing dishes took more than two hours. By then, it was time for the live streaming of Dr. Maya Angelou’s memorial service. I watched and tweeted but did little else for the next two hours. Then it was about time to eat again.
But since I spent all that time watching the homegoing celebration for such a remarkable, phenomenal woman and writer, I should be all gung ho now to go out and be a phenomenal woman and writer, too, but I’m not. I’m forced myself to write today as I fought off sleep, and I wondered if my time would have been better spent sleeping, exercising, or washing the dishes from lunch.
This isn’t always what blogging or writing feels like, but both do lately. I have ideas, but they’re few and far between, and when I get started on something, I don’t finish. But more often than not I don’t get started at all.
I’ve felt unmotivated for a while, and I blame it on being at a loss for … or maybe of … Never mind. I don’t know what I’ve lost. I do know that not getting the Fulbright was a new low for me, and I haven’t bounced back from it the way I have from other disappointments. Why not? I think it’s because this time I felt like I was pursuing something God made just for me (and whoever else would happen to get the award, but this isn’t about them), and something he made just for me at that moment. The fellowship—and I mean the way I heard about it, everything I could have brought to it, everything it entailed, and everything it could have done for me now—was, I thought perfect. A Godsend, if you will. I remember going to church one Sunday during the application process and hearing the song, “Bless Me (Prayer of Jabez),” and feeling like I was hearing “enlarge my territory” not as a request but as a promise that God would do just that by giving me this particular opportunity to see the world.
This assumption now feels as stupid as it probably sounds and partially demonstrates why I’ve stopped trying to hear God’s voice, but it doesn’t explain what’s up with this blog and my writing aspirations. My sporadic blogging and other writing have a much more practical explanation: I am constantly so overwhelmed with my “regular” job and all the shit one must do after work to maintain a healthy body and keep pests out of the house that I haven’t managed to make time to write. Additionally, as you may remember from my final #BlogLikeCrazy post in November 2013, I have learned that to be a consistent blogger, I need living experience, an awareness of what’s going on in traditional and social media, and interaction with others. I haven’t been living much, I’ve been unplugged from almost all media for the past couple of months (not sure why), and without those things, I don’t interact with people outside of work much, and I don’t want to write about my job, so I’ve barely been writing at all. (My column in National Catholic Reporter is still going consistently, but I’m always afraid I’ll run out of things to say.) The memoir that depends on my distant memory rather than today’s hashtag has been sitting virtually untouched for about one year, a victim of dishes and day jobs.
I’m not sure what I’m going to do to change this. It is undoubtedly time to rethink my purpose as a writer and a blogger. Despite the disappointing Fulbright outcome, I am still taking an international trip this summer, to Trinidad and Tobago. It will be my first trip out of the country in about 14 years, and I’m hoping it inspires daily posts and that connectivity is available for me to share my experiences and revelations with you. I had been advised to pitch the Fulbright selection committee a digital media project entitled, “Redbone Afropuff & Black Girls Raised in the Global South,” and while I won’t be living in “third world” accommodations, study abroad in Trinidad will give me a chance to test that out.
But outside of that, I’m not sure what’s next. I know that graduate study informed my blogging/writing because some of the “living” I did in November was in class, but I also know I don’t want to shift completely to academic writing … yet. (BTW, my African American literature professor required us to post to a private class blog, so I wasn’t quite as absent from writing from January through May as it would appear. I will be copying the posts that I think will make sense without having read the books.) Come fall, I’ll be reapplying for the Fulbright and filling out applications for graduate study (field and location TBA, but somewhere that offers creative writing, history and/or ethnic studies, and single, professional black men in an ideal age range all at one institution or in the same city is ideal). I am in awe of people like Tressie McMillan Cottom and Bianca Spriggs, women who appear to weave social media (the fun kind and the teaching kind) and scholarship together seamlessly and still get their work done. While I can’t promise I’ll be able to emulate them, I do promise to try to keep (make?) this blog something that people want to read, and I’m open to suggestions. Please let me know in the comments what you think I can contribute to crowded blogosphere.