What If I’m Not Writing

Working By Emergency Light
Working By Emergency Light flickr photo by cogdogblog shared into the public domain using Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0)

For quite a long time — many years, in fact — I wrote on this blog every single day – rain or shine. For some of those years, I was even known to post twice a day.  I know. I know. What was I thinking? I was thinking that writing here would oil the gears of my imagination, and open up other writing ideas.

It did.

This blog (which is also my own personal digital archive of ideas and thinking) became a place to plant and nurture seeds, to try out new ideas, to think through whatever it was I doing. Comics. Poems. Songs. Stories. Essays. Whether the audience was myself or others who were stopping by or reading it on RSS, my blog has long acted an extension of my writing identity, a place to land each morning, getting centered and situated, before the rest of the day began.

But the past few months have altered my relationship with my writing here. I’m trying to sort out why.

Maybe it was just that I have been worn out by teaching this year, as so many colleagues have expressed as well. I surely am exhausted and frustrated, and summer break can’t come fast enough (a little more than two weeks). Most days at school have become long, difficult days with a growing range of student behavior and mental health issues taking up so much of my time and energy, trends that no doubt can be traced to the Pandemic and the disruptive years behind us all. Knowing that reality and the source of it all doesn’t make any day ahead any easier to navigate. Sleep is also an issue, as in not getting nearly enough.

At some point — and I think it was in March and April, when I was joining some activities around poetry and also finishing up the daily Slice of Life challenge — I just took a break from the blog’s daily writing one day, and that break kept on going and going and going.

Now it feels a bit as if the break has broken my blogging.

I have still been writing small form poetry every morning, and I’ve been posting the odd book review (mostly written earlier, and then pulled from my draft bin) and sharing silent photos for Sundays here and other odds and ends, but I have not been doing deep dive writing about the topics that I have long centered this blog around — teaching, writing, music, art, collaborations, etc.

Strangely enough — and somewhat alarming to me, the writer — I hadn’t even noticed the absence of my reflective writing voice, that voice I’ve developed here at my blog over years, until … well … I did. I suddenly noticed what was not there anymore. I’d look at this space and it felt like some distant echo of the writer I was before, but I couldn’t quite hear it anymore. When I am not writing regularly, I find myself on a day-to-day survival mode, as opposed to being able to step back and see the larger landscape.

I’m now attuned to the absence of that voice and I miss that part of me.

So, now what? I am not ready to be writing here every day, all over again, and maybe that era of me as a daily blogger is long past. I’m actually OK with that, if I can still find a strategy for nurturing my writing self.  I need to find a connection back, to spark the creative spirit that nurtures me as a teacher and a writer and a creative person. I know I have teaching colleagues and I have writing friends, and others in my collaborative circles, that I can connect with, and get support from. Perhaps summer break will be what I need.

I’m mulling on where to go from here, and how to find myself back to the writer I want to be.

Peace (and self-care),
Kevin

 

Watching Scenes from a Movie

Broken Love Movie (viewing party)Yesterday, my son and his friend shared two scenes from a movie they are producing — Broken Love — to a select audience of Kickstarter supporters, and it was so interesting to see the work they did in shooting, editing and producing these two important scenes from their movie.

During a Q/A period on livestream, the two talked about the logistics of the filming, working with other actors and a small production team, and where the idea for the story originated from.

The Kickstarter helped fund the making of these clips and now, they are going to use what they have to try to get funding and support to keep going on their movie project, and it has been great to see these two friends, who made movies as kids, continue to follow their passions forward. (My son, Colin, now works as a video editor, and Sam, his friend, is a writer finishing up his first novel).

Peace (showing it to the world),
Kevin

 

Slice of Life: The Noise Of Curiosity

(This is for the Slice of Life challenge, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We write on Tuesdays about the small moments in the larger perspective … or is that the larger perspective in the smaller moments? You write, too.)

My sixth graders were working on creating new words as part of our Word Origins unit (and they will be donating one of their newly invented words into an ongoing, 18-year project to build an online dictionary of invented words, called The Crazy Collaborative Dictionary Project, which has more than 1,000 words from students.)

I rarely expect complete quiet when doing this kind of work (and with this year’s antsy social crew, even less so) but the noise of students sharing out loud their words and definitions was a bit of a cacophony yesterday, one I didn’t tamp down on because the excitement and energy level for being creative was just so high, I had to let it go on.

One of my more reluctant young writers was over the moon with this word invention activity, and as I walked by, he turned to a neighbor friend and declared: “This is the BEST writing assignment we’ve had the entire year. I just LOVE doing this!”

I had to smile. You never know what is going to capture the interest of students, and his excitement, along with others, was infectious in the classroom. Heads nodded in agreement with him and then more voices began to float over the room in a strange orchestra of absurd words.

Peace (capturing it),
Kevin

Music Remix: Gift of Peace

I was doing something else on my guitar when I realized I was remixing our song, A Gift of Peace, and then that remix suddenly drew me in with full attention to honor the original but at a slant. In the end, I went in an entirely new direction than where I started, but I like this instrumental version of our song.

Peace (singing it),
Kevin

Music: Sharing A Gift of Peace

It’s that time of year when I share out a song that I co-write with my friend, John. We went into a recording studio and then hired my son, a video editor, when he was still in college to make a video. Whatever your faith or religion, or not,  if that’s the case, I hope you find some peace in your lives and in your world this season, and further beyond.

Peace (shared),
Kevin

Remembering ‘The Rising’ and More

On this, the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, I am remembering and listening to The Rising album by Bruce Springsteen, who wrote new tracks in the aftermath that, to me anyway, touched an emotional nerve of how the world had changed, on a small human scale of the stories of loss and survival of his characters in a landscape changed in a single day.

A few years ago, a bass player in my band unexpectedly shared his experience of being in New York City that day of September 11 over a band dinner, and later, he and I continued the discussions, as he shared his writing and poems from those days. I took some of his pieces and crafted a poem as gift back to him and his memories.

And finally, today is also the birthday of my youngest son — born a few years after 2001 but on the same day — and each year, as the world grieves in memories, my wife and I remind him and ourselves, and everyone else we know, that his presence is a gift of beauty and love to the world on a day often shrouded in loss.

Peace (to all),
Kevin

 

 

Broken Love: My Son’s Making a Movie

Colin Sam Movie Pitch

My eldest son – who works as a video editor and producer — and his childhood friend — who is in the final editing stages of his first novel — are making a movie.

They, and friends, have been making movies since they were small — all sorts of grand adventures around our neighborhood that still bring smiles to my face from the memories — and now they have written a feature film called “Broken Love” and are raising money to shoot two scenes, in hopes of pitching the film to investors down the line.

From their online pitch:

“Broken Love” tells the story of an escaped convict, Ethan, who returns to his hometown in Upstate New York to recover the $200,000 in dirty money he hid before his capture and to flee to Canada with his fiance, Jenny, and their young daughter. He returns, however, to find that two local thugs are after his money and that Jenny is now in a relationship with his childhood best friend, Todd, who also happens to be the policeman in charge of his recapture. It’s a drama inspired by the real-life escape from Dannemora prison in 2015 and also by emotionally-charged relationship films like Derek Cianfrance’s “Blue Valentine” and “The Place Beyond the Pines” as well as the darkly comedic crime thrillers of the Coen Brothers.

You should not feel under any obligation to donate but I feel the obligation (and pride) as the father of one of the filmmakers here to share their Kickstarter page in my network. I love that they are still collaborating after so many years and with different, but still creative, trajectories in their lives.

If you are interested, here is the link to the kickstarter campaign for “Broken Hearts.”

Peace (on film),
Kevin

Random Access Poetry: Heading Off On An April Blog Hiatus

It’s always good to take a breather from the blog, particularly after a month of Slice of Life. So, for April, I am going to put this blog space on hold and focus on writing my morning poems.

Like last year, I am going to tap into random photographs and other discovered media to inspire some poetry each morning over a cup of coffee. That’s the ‘random access’ part of things, since I am doing no planning until I am ready to discover something and then write it.

This site is where I will be posting them poems, if you are interested.

Thanks for stopping by.

Peace (in poems),
Kevin