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    My daily writing--emails, journal entries, marginalia, more emails, blog posts, and tweets--shapes me as a writer, helping and hindering the big stuff I'm trying to accomplish. Every word counts.

    My name is James Black. I'm on Facebook and Twitter. Friend and/or follow me if you like.

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Transitions flummox me. I sit there. Metaphorically, physically, emotionally, whateverly, I get stuck for a while.

In an elementary school science class, I learned about inertia. To put it in a less-than-nuanced way, inertia means what’s going keeps going until it’s stopped; what’s stopped remains stopped until something gets it going.

Inertia should not be a problem for me since I’m not an inanimate object. But sometimes I’m just a lump of stuckness and can’t help it. I have spent years resolving to make a plan to counter my chronic inertia. I’ve taken advantage of every kind of new year I can think of to reset my resolution: Calendar new year. Jewish new year. Fiscal new year. Continue reading

Clouded? Turn Away. Come Back.

In response to my own poll about barriers to creative work, I could pin the blame on lack of motivation. But the part of my brain dedicated to quality control would prohibit that decision. It’s picky about such things, wasting my time on a devotion to precision, when I would much rather just say, “yeah, that’s close enough.”

Lately, I haven’t had energy for writing. I’ve felt drained, which has been a physical thing to some extent, but mostly I’ve been drained of spirit. (Ugh, that’s not close enough, but–ah hell, close enough.) Unfortunately, I haven’t been drained to the point of not wanting to write. The impulse has been there, and I’ve felt motivated to write some notes that didn’t become anything more than notes. For example, I’ve started four blog posts that either didn’t hold together or never came close to forming in the first place. In weather terms, some would have been tropical depressions, and the others would have been little more than harsh winds. No reason to board up the windows, but I might as well stay inside until the sun comes out. Continue reading

Was Mine

Although I spend my days on a campus with a couple thousand students and a few hundred employees, I experienced a moment alone today. The strange part is that I was in the middle of campus, walking back from lunch when I realized that for the last few steps I hadn’t seen anyone.

I took another step, scanning the distance. There was no one entering or exiting the many buildings in my view or on the sidewalks that connect them. I stopped to look behind me. No one.

Any moment, someone would surely appear. But when? The lull extended for another second, then another. It was like waiting for a kettle to squeal. The water whispers as it begins to heat, gradually building in excitement until you know that within seconds you’ll hear the piercing sound and see steam blasting from the spout. Except I heard nothing. No sign that anything would happen or that anyone would appear.

Maybe this had happened before but I failed to notice. I moved slowly, my shoes not tapping on the concrete. I studied the windows of the residence hall I approached. Surely someone was in there, but the windows’ glare concealed any inhabitants.

For that brief moment, I had the felt sense of something subtly poignant. The stillness was stunning but not overwhelming. And it ended with the slow fade-in of a car coming up the main drive. The driver, clearly visible, had his window down and let his arm hang down the side of the car. The significance of my moment quickly evaporated, leaving only a thin residue.

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