New and Improved (?)

As any loyal (or disloyal) followers have noted, I haven’t posted in a pretty long while. My family can assure you I haven’t run out of things to say.

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Coming Soon–click on the photo FMI

I have, though, struggled finding time enough to spout off.

Over the past few years, I’ve focused on essays of between 800-1000 words. Doing so allowed me to ramble my way in and out of clarity, but I also had the opportunity to re-introduce myself to the kind of academic writing my students needed to master. I was, for lack of a better cliche, practicing what I preached.

However, there is no denying that writing essays takes time. I tell my students every semester that the three keys to writing are practice, practice, and more practice. Like most skills, writing well is a product of habitually writing every day.

While I know some folks who can write well and write quickly, I’m not one of those folks. More importantly, though, I can’t write in loud places or if I’m interrupted. I have a friend out on Long Island who willingly (on purpose and everything) travels into New York to a particular coffee shop twice a week to write. I, on the other hand, rarely write at home if my family is around. Mind you, they respect my privacy and avoid my work area, but their mere presence in the house is distracting. Sitting in a coffee shop trying to write while Todd and Margot are ordering an Orange Mocha Frappuccino makes my head want to explode.

Likewise, I have a difficult time writing at work if I can’t disconnect the phone and shut the door. For instance, as I wrote the previous sentence a student called, wondering why her .380 GPA placed her on academic suspension. (Yes, the decimal is in the correct spot). The conversation was short, but the interruption breaks the train of thought. Resuming the blog, then, requires reading the previous sentences, reminding myself of my goal, and then getting back on those tracks headed, one hopes, in the same direction. Writing isn’t, as some might posit, a free flowing activity without structure or boundaries.

Certainly, we might draft haphazardly as we let thoughts spill out on the page, but a finished piece of writing is an articulation of our ideas and thoughts–our attempt at giving meaning to some thought or organizing some moment in time via language. Writing, for lack of anything better to say, is a search for truth through metaphor, symbol, and structure.

One of my problems (and my excuse) for the last year or so is that I was director of our Faculty Development Center, director of Faculty Mentored projects, teaching classes here and there, and trying to be a father and husband. Honestly, whatever truth I might have searched for was usually lost in a memo to someone who probably didn’t have time to read what I wrote.

Things don’t show signs of letting up anytime soon. While I’m no longer directing our faculty development center, I’ve recently been tagged as the last person standing (everyone else took that proverbial step back) as our interim Dean of the Freshman College. I don’t see much uninterrupted free time in my future. In fact, I’ve had three other interruptions since the paragraph above.

Time or not, though, my plan is to return to blogging with a new and improved (?) approach. Gone will be the long essays that might take me all day (or all week) to write. Instead, this blog will become a quick-hit aggregate of stories that interest me in any given day. I’ll begin linking to articles, videos, or other electronic items and offering pithy (and hopefully witty) commentary that might offer insight or incite outrage. I’ll begin taking note of books I’m reading or stories I’m teaching. Time permitting, I’ll do some flash reviews as I go.

Ultimately, though, the goal is a more regular interaction with blogging and an attempt at creating some order and organization to my thoughts and ideas in a shorter form. I’m sure the occasional long essay might appear, but I suspect those will be fewer and farther in between.

First, though, the next week or so will be an act of shameless self promotion on my part. One of the side benefits of writing the blog every day was a burst of creativity and discipline as a writer. Over the years, I’ve written (and published) a few short stories. Last Christmas, I revised those stories and produced a few original stories, submitted them to Lamar University Press, and we’ll see Love Is Not A Dirty Word and other stories on bookshelves in about a month. Feel free to click on the photo above and pre-order your copy.

Over the next few days (or weeks), I’ll be posting the first 100-200 words of each story to wet your appetite (or spoil your lunch). I’ll begin each post with a brief story about where the story originated, but then we’ll let the tale take over. After you read the openings, if you want to find out the rest of the story, you’ll have to pony up the bucks or convince your local library your town needs a copy.

And trust me, you really want to know why Love is Not a Dirty Word.

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About John Wegner
John Wegner is a Professor of English where he also serves as the Dean of the Freshman College. He and Lana, his wife, have been married over 25 years. They are the parents of two great sons who (so far) haven't ever needed bail money.

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Things I Read

And Things I Learned

Washington Monthly

Do I contradict myself? / Very well then I contradict myself, / (I am large, I contain multitudes.)

Joanne Jacobs

Thinking and Linking by Joanne Jacobs

Inside Higher Ed

Do I contradict myself? / Very well then I contradict myself, / (I am large, I contain multitudes.)

FiveThirtyEight

Do I contradict myself? / Very well then I contradict myself, / (I am large, I contain multitudes.)

Balloon Juice

Do I contradict myself? / Very well then I contradict myself, / (I am large, I contain multitudes.)

Scott Adams' Blog

Do I contradict myself? / Very well then I contradict myself, / (I am large, I contain multitudes.)

The Full Feed from HuffingtonPost.com

Do I contradict myself? / Very well then I contradict myself, / (I am large, I contain multitudes.)

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