Category Archives: Blogging

After Five Years of Blogging

The Dry SeasonWordPress has reminded me, as it does, that five years ago today I started this blog.

I began it initially as a personal website, but as I move forward as a teacher, writer, and for better or worse an academic, I think this blog will likely become more of a professional website. All writers have them; it’s the one piece of advice all published authors have given me in addition to reading and writing a lot.

As such, I expect to write fewer posts for this blog. For a while, I was ambitious: 4 posts a month. I’ve been generally consistent, but I am beginning to realize that even I have limits. Amazing, right?

This year has been good for me, all things considered. I am into the second year of my MFA program at the University of Idaho, I had four good publications (short stories, poems, essays), I compiled a draft of a short story collection (kind of), I had my first writing fellowship, I improved my syllabus for ENG 102, and I also took up a volunteer position as the creative nonfiction editor forĀ Fugue. I also carved out some time for traveling around Idaho and Montana, to linger in places I’ve often passed without stopping to take a closer look.

I don’t want my life to be purely academic, but in grad school, that’s difficult to avoid. I’m also myself not good about leaving time for life outside work. This next year, I will blog inconsistently as I focus on writing, publishing, and teaching. I asked in my first post, why pursue a liberal arts education? After five years of writing about it and as I enter my fourth year as a grad student, your guess is still as good as mine.

-jk

 

On Starting Yet Another Daybook Again

DaybookI’ve never been good at keeping journals. I’ve started many, but I leave them behind soon after starting them. I’ve tried keeping traditional journals or more work-related daybooks, and once I even tried keeping a dream journal, which was redundant because most of my dreams involved spiders or missing a deadline or sometimes missing a deadline given to me by the spiders.

I know it’s a good habit, not just for writers but for anyone with too many thoughts and too many tasks. It can be therapeutic, and a few times even was. But I’ve never managed to keep a journal for more than a few weeks, despite being a creature of habit. Last winter, I woke up at 6 every morning and exercised for half an hour, and ate the same meal every night for dinner (a can of beans with salsa and cheese). I’m good at regimentation, except when it comes to writing.

I don’t count this blog as a daybook, either, because it’s the opposite of habitual. I post inconsistently, and I have no specific topic. Last year I wrote twelve posts about the Russian Revolution between attempts at satire and wannabe McSweeney’s rants. This year I’m writing twelve posts about American history between joke recipes for smoothies and self-referential metablog posts. This blog is more like an intellectual junk drawer where everything that isn’t easily categorized finds itself one way or another.

Today, I started another daybook. I don’t know if I’ll see it through to the end of the year, but I want to write at least a paragraph every day. Maybe posting about it here will keep me in check; maybe the theme (observations about Moscow from September to May) will make it easier to write consistently. Lately, I’ve wanted to write about this weird place I now live. There’s a lot of take in, even for such a small town. Or maybe because it’s such a small town, there’s a lot to take in, just around the corners, subtle but always there.

My first entry in the daybook was about Farmers Market potatoes. Tomorrow, I hope something just as engaging will fall into my life.

-jk

Having Blogged for Four Years

Arboretum

Photo taken at the University of Idaho Arboretum and Botanical Garden

. . . I wonder if this is the only anniversary in my life that matters. I started this blog four years ago. Hopefully, the quality of posts has improved just as the quality of the world has diminished.

I’m knee-deep in the first semester in my third college program, this time an MFA in creative nonfiction. Since October 27, 2016, I have started a blog series about the Russian Revolution, had one essay published and one short story published, finished my Master’s degree in English, and moved from Nebraska to Idaho. I’ve also started writing for the Idaho MFA blog, reading nonfiction submissions for Fugue, and volunteering as an editorial assistant for Western American Literature. My literary life has expanded substantially in a year, and yet I’m still ambitious. I have writing and reading to finish, journals to curate, places to visit, sweeping political generalizations to make.

This has been a rough year for the country and the planet. Regardless, I will blog away into oblivion. Here’s to another year.

-jk

Apparently I’ve Been Blogging for Three Years

all-skull-and-bibles

A photo I took exactly three years ago.

I don’t tend to celebrate anniversaries. I don’t actively celebrate my birthday and I ignore my country’s independence day. But WordPress insists on reminding me that I started this blog three years ago, and I may as well mark the occasion.

Since my last blogiversary, I’ve attended a rad academic conference in Albuquerque, had poems, a short story, and a nonfiction essay published, and visited multiple national parks. I’ve completed a draft of my creative writing Master’s Thesis, a collection of interconnected short historical fiction stories (is there a more pretentious phrase? If so, I’ll find it), as well as poetry collections and essays. My writing has improved (I think), and I’ve developed a better understanding of literature.

I’ve also been in Nebraska for over a year, and my relocation here has started to set in. I’m finding a community in Lincoln. I’m forming connections with friends and colleagues. Sadly, I may be leaving again for another graduate program. Once again, I’ve decided to apply to graduate programs to pursue either a PhD or MFA program, and once again, I have no idea where I’ll be living a year from now.

But wherever I am, I’ll at least have a blog. It may not be much, but if I leave my friends, colleagues, and relations, if I leave them all behind for another new start in another state and another program, I’ll still have this little journal of my affairs. It may not be much, but it can be a grounding ritual, or a way to kill time. In either case, I enjoy it.

Wherever I am, wherever I will be, wherever I’ve come from, here’s to three years of fairly sporadic blogging. Cheers, peace, and until another autumn.

Peace,

-jk

Some Kind of Blogging Award

sunshine-blogger-awardI’m honored that fellow blogger Charles French has recognized me for the Sunshine Blogger Award (even though it’s completely overcast and raining in Lincoln right now). Nevertheless, I’m very thankful for the recognition! I’ve never actually received one of these blogging awards I’ve heard so much about, but from what I gather, they are ways to recognize other bloggers for doing cool things (or tasty or artsy or sciencey things, depending on context).

The Rules for the award:

1. Thank the person that nominated you.

2. Answer the 11 questions from your nominator.

3. Nominate and notify 11 bloggers.

4. Give them 11 questions to answer.

The questions I was given, and my answers, are as follows:

1.) If you could visit any country that you have never been to, where would you go? I’ve always wanted to visit Afghanistan.

2.) What is your favorite book? Impossible to name just one, so I’ll split it between fiction (Sum by David Eagleman), poetry (The Iraqi Nights by Dunya Mikhail), and drama (Wit by Margaret Edson).

3.) Coffee or tea? While I enjoy both, I strongly prefer coffee.

4.) What is your favorite meal of the day? Breakfast. It combines waffles, coffee, syrup, coffee, and powdered sugar, in my coffee.

5.) What do you think is the most pressing issue of the day? I think climate change is the most pressing issue of the day, which is why I’m voting for Treebeard of the Ent Party this election, on a platform of reforestation and smashing society with large boulders. #feeltheboulders

6.) Are you a day or night person? I’m a morning person, until only a few weeks are left in the semester, at which point I stay awake day and night cramming.

7.) What is your favorite snack? Cheese quesadilla with diced bell peppers (plus coffee).

8.) What is the time period for which you have the most interest? I’m most interested in the period immediately after the Second World War and the beginning of the Cold War, but the inter-war period (1918-1939) is a close second.

9.) Movie or live theater? I’ve come to enjoy live theater more and more in recent years.

10.) What is your favorite season? I love winter, and I’m not sure if that’s because I’m a romantic introvert or just like it when everything is cold and dead. I’ll say the first one.

11.) Dog or cat? Again, while I enjoy both, dogs are obviously superior to cats in every way and fill me with immeasurable joy.

Now I need to nominate more bloggers. I’m choosing blogs I always look forward to reading, ones I find delightful and thoughtful. My list is as follows:

Hanna McCall at https://proofreaderhannah.com/

The Twenty Something Social Recluse

Annamarie Carlson at https://annamarieabroad.wordpress.com/

Lois Elsden

Robert Okaji at O At the Edges

Hummings

Simon Bowler at https://simonbowlerphotos.wordpress.com/

M Weaver at https://sorrysongbird.wordpress.com/

J. W. Eberle at https://jweberle.com/

Chris Helzer at The Prairie Ecologist

Lizzy Nichols at The Lizzysaurus

My questions, if you choose to accept, are as follows:

  1. What book are you reading now, or are eager to start?
  2. What music do you listen to while working (if anything)?
  3. What is the most useful tool for your work or hobbies?
  4. The Grim Reaper rings your doorbell; you challenge the Reaper to a board game, and if you win you won’t be taken to Hades; what board game do you choose?
  5. What is your ideal pet (apart from a domesticated Grim Reaper)?
  6. Is there a past (or future) decade for which you are nostalgic? If so, what and why?
  7. What is your best method for coping with stress? (I swear I’m not asking because I’m stressed. I swear).
  8. How do you celebrate a major achievement or accomplishment?
  9. What is your preferred mode of transportation (bike, plane, feet, racing team of twelve congresspeople tied to a sled, etc.)?
  10. Where do you do most of your work (home, office, school department, coffee shop, in a sled pulled by twelve congresspeople)?
  11. And lastly, how much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could get a law degree from Harvard and join a lobby group on behalf of small locally owned and operated woodchucking facilities and successfully bring down Big Wood and their death grip on the international woodchucking industry?

Peace and happy blogging,

-jk