In the Words of James Stockdale, Who Am I and Why Am I Here?

James who? Google it if you don’t know. Isn’t that what we do now? Do you remember encyclopedias? I do. Now that I have dated myself, let’s get to the assignment more directly, shall we? Or more accurately, shall I?

I used to consider myself a writer. In grade school my hobby was writing short stories and occasional poetry, and I was pretty darn good at it, thanks partly to my wonderful editor, Mom. In high school I took a journalism class and contributed to at least one story that made it into the school newspaper. I considered joining the newspaper staff and at another time, the yearbook staff, but abandoned both efforts because I felt I just didn’t fit in with the crowds. I have always been a visual artist, too, and joined and left the high school art club more than once for the same reason. It wasn’t until college that I learned I would have fit in with these groups and many others, if I had only allowed myself to do so.

Just before high school began, I wrote a poem about potholes published in the community newspaper, and it was also later read on a radio station. I look back on it today as an awfully amateur verse (but hey, I was a kid!), however, the street that was the inspiration for my critique was upgraded quickly and completely soon after its publication and broadcast.  I continued to write poems from time to time throughout high school, but rarely found my muse.

In college, I began my quest for life career as a pre-journalism major. I was interested in reporting, advertising, and marked by a professor for public relations. But my freshman year did not give me the GPA needed to enter the journalism school, and my sophomore year didn’t help it much, so near the end of year two I had to make a different choice. By the time I raised my GPA through hard work as an English major, I had my eyes on the finish line of study, not of changing course again and staying longer.

In my senior year of high school I had a teacher who may have inspired me more than any other. He had us keep journals, and gave us different assignments for it daily or multiple times a week. Some of us, including me, continued to write in it at home. This habit I kept for many, many years.

Fast forward to married life, about ten years after college. Everything changed. While I still wrote heartfelt poems for my new love as we were dating, I found I had less and less reason to write in my journal because I had someone to talk to every day. Someone who was allowed to hear my innermost feelings and thoughts. Or so I thought. I still wrote every week or so, but after she came across something that was not meant for her eyes, I began to feel like I couldn’t do it anymore. I couldn’t write, thought-free and let it spill out of my fingertips as I do now, and risk hurting the one I love.

We married, became stronger, and recently celebrated ten years as husband and wife. But a few years ago, when I began to really feel like I wanted to start writing again, I faced a new challenge: The internet. I wanted to start blogging, and did, in fact, more than once, but it didn’t last long. The internet has made everyone a writer, and I realized that many people are very good ones. Intimidatingly good ones. So many good ones! I think I felt that my best prose was going to get washed up by the waves of the blogosphere and carried to the bottom of its ocean. How do I even begin to write again with a fear like that?

Two years ago I made a decision: I WOULD write again, but first I needed to address a personal shortcoming. Despite having an English degree, I had read pitifully few books. Cliff’s Notes got me through college. I could count on one hand the books I remember reading in high school (all of which were from the aforementioned teacher’s class, I beleive).  I knew the best writers were good readers, and vowed to be one of those, first. So I started reading, a few easy ones at first (The Hunger Games trilogy!), followed by some suggestions from a book list, my library, friends, and myself. Included were some classics, including Gone With the Wind (I am not telling you yet how long it took me to read that), and I am currently taking on A Tale of Two Cities. Along this journey I have developed an affection for historic non-fiction, and have set the incredible goal of reading (and owning) at least one biography of every US president to date.  My favor of history–and the presidency–began with a trip to Washington, DC, in 2010. I now ask of every American to go there if you get the chance, to literally walk through our nation’s history, and then return home and find your place within it.  Many have served and died for you to be where you are today. I will defend any president to some degree, because I respect the office itself so much, and because few of us would even think about stepping into such a monumentally daunting position. My boss is always on call even when she’s not at work, and she manages a store. The President of the United States doesn’t really get vacations, folks.

I digress. The latest challenge I face is that now I love reading so much, I don’t feel like I have TIME to write!  Which brings me to why I am here.

One of my new year’s resolutions is to write something–anything at all–every Thursday, my one reliable day off each week.  This course, while I don’t need any help with the forming of sentences or paragraphs, will do three things for me: 1) Force me to write something every Thursday, at least for the duration of the course, 2) Help me rediscover how much I enjoy writing, and 3) Allow me to gradually discover what kind of blog I want to write.

At this time, my blog is anonymous (but not THAT Anonymous), which is due to my stated fears from years ago, as well as others. At some point I plan on introducing myself even more than I have today. But I am going to ease myself into this thing. You are more than welcome to come along for the ride. Remember, roller coasters start slow, too.

I haven’t really told you anything about my background, but I think, if I have done this assignment well, you know who I am.

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6 thoughts on “In the Words of James Stockdale, Who Am I and Why Am I Here?

  1. Keep at it . Your personality shines through, and if you stick to it you will probsbly become a happier person – not that I’m suggesting that you may not already be happier, but joy isn’t like food, there is no such thing as too much.

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  2. You write so well…and a very distinct voice ! Looking forward to read some more write ups soon 🙂
    What have you become if not a journalist, then ?
    I would be glad if you visit my blog sometime and help me become a better writer…

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  3. “Anonymous” is a really good movie. About, some of the life of Willian Shakespeare. While fictional and speculative. It is a way of understanding how “Anonymous” can contribute to writing.

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