I believe writer’s block is an affectation experienced by successful authors who have made enough money to let their egos be picky.
I am not a successful author. I’m a former journalist, maybe even a failed one.
But I have found it hard to write of late.
I am tired. The fall semester drained me. The classes were hard. They shook my confidence. I went from knowing I could teach to thinking I could teach.
Maybe that swing is good. A person needs to earn swagger. I earned a little in paragraph stacking, but I have none in teaching.
I begin student teaching in January.
I have some decisions to make about my public writing before then.
I have lived a partially public life in the age of social media.
I have accounts on all the major platform and about 11,000 combined followers.
That’s not much if you’re Beyonce.
It’s decent if you’re some random fat guy in the Midwest who typed up police reports and weather stories for the local newspaper.
The decision: Do I delete all those accounts?
The easiest answer is “yes.”
The problem is I sometimes say things on these platforms that people find objectionable.
I try to stay out of politics and religion, although I’ve dipped into both over time.
Mom 2.0, the kindly east Des Moines hairdresser who raised me after my parents died, always tried to keep those topics out of her beauty shop. I keep them out of my feed as best I can.
But everything is an argument these days.
I’ll give you an example: I have not been very excited about the most recent actor to play the lead in “Doctor Who.”
I don’t blame the actor, not really. I just don’t think the stories are very good.
I voiced this opinion in the comic shop. One of the employees sighed heavily and said, “The world was not ready for its first female Doctor.”
The implication in that comment is that the reason I don’t like the show is because I don’t like women.
I said nothing. I paid for my comics and left.
I wanted to reply and make my point more clearly, but any protest would have led to politics, which the shop owner tries to avoid for the same reason Mom 2.0 did.
I’m sure if I kept talking, I would be accused of sexism or misogyny. It’s not a conversation worth having.
This was a real-world conversation, where you can read body language and tone.
Now take that conversation online, remove context and any sense of sanity.
The Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Victimhood rules the internet.
If I were to make such a comment about disliking “Doctor Who” stories in recent seasons online, one of them might find me and decide I was the worst person in the world.
Then they might go on quest to wreck my life.
A person with whom you disagree about “Doctor Who” must not be able to have a job or get a cup of coffee. They must be shunned and forced to the edges of society.
Employers hate controversy. They have a business to run. Bosses don’t need their employees drumming up problems for them by what say on the internet.
First Amendment free speech protections only prevent the government from muzzling you. Your employer can absolutely tell you to shut up about your opinions on “Doctor Who” or clean out your desk.
I plan to work in public schools.
If all goes as planned — and, please, God, let me get what I want this time — I will be ending my first semester as a fully licensed teacher by this time next year.
I have no intention of rocking the boat with mean tweets about “Doctor Who” episodes — or anything else for that matter.
So, do I just spike the whole thing?
Do I kill the blog? Should I delete Facebook, Twitter, and the rest?
I think maybe I should.
However, I also think I enjoy writing for an audience and the people who read this blog have been very kind and loyal to me for the past couple years, some of the worst in my adult life.
There are other options.
I could make the blog, Facebook page, and Twitter private. I could control who is in and who is out.
I know some people who do that just so they can complain about the terrible play of the Chicago Bears with a wider range of vocabulary than is allowed at the Methodist Sunday night potluck.
I don’t know how successful making accounts private is. I figure if you put it out there, eventually someone who is serious about getting to it will get to it.
What am I going to do?
I don’t know.
I don’t have to decide today.
Maybe over a couple glasses of eggnog and some holiday cheer, I’ll have an epiphany.
Until then, save me a snowman cookie and keep telling your story.
Daniel P. Finney wrote for newspapers for 27 years before being laid off in 2020. He teaches middle school English now. He writes columns and podcasts for ParagraphStacker.com, a free, reader-supported website. Please consider donating $10 a month to help him cover the expenses of this site.
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