Photo by Shalone Cason on Unsplash

“Forgive me, Father. for I have sinned. It has been 25 days since my last post.”

I am not Catholic, so I do not answer to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, but my writing has its own trinity: the Dissertation, the Novel, and the Blog.

This month, I have written 30 pages of my dissertation. After wading through countless research studies on the Response-to-Intervention model and research-based instructional practices and then dissecting them for my dissertation, I find that I don’t have much left for either the novel or the blog. I have an outline for my novel, so even if I am not inspired, I can sit down and write. My idea is developing, so I can figure out something to write about, but so far, I have only written seven pages.

Unfortunately, once I am finished working on my dissertation and my novel, I don’t seem to have much left to say in my blog. I struggled at the beginning of this month with my blogging identity. I can’t seem to figure out what my niche should be. I am not writing about fashion, or living on a farm, or pop culture. I am not sure I want to have a niche, even though I know that would increase my followers. I quit working on the blog entirely, because of this conundrum. What is my blogging identity?

I kept coming back to the title of my blog–“Beginning Again.” When I started my blog, the title defined this era of my life. I was at the end of my teaching job and wondering about changing careers. I was at a turning point in my life. I thought about all the things I like to do and writing is one of my favorite things to do. I began to work on developing my identity as a writer. Writing is the one thing I come back to again and again. I can be away from it for years, but I always pick it up again. So, I am a year into this exploration of writing. Can I still say I am beginning again?

Then, I thought that we’re all beginning again every day. Every day, we wake up and we begin again. We have new choices to make and consequences to face. Our lives are always changing. Every day, I wake up and tell myself, “Today I will write.” And I do. Maybe, it’s not on my blog, but I am writing something–my journal, my dissertation, my novel. But I begin every day with that commitment to myself. In other areas of my life, I wake up and make a similar commitment to myself. My commitment is not for tomorrow or next year or ten years from now. It is for today. “Today, I will…”

My other title for my blog is “Writing from the Heart.” When I thought about this subtitle, I realized that, perhaps, this is my niche, my writing identity. When I write on my blog, I will write from my heart. I will be honest with myself and my readers. I will have the courage to admit my faults and failures and the confidence to celebrate my strengths and my successes. And, then, it hit me. That is my niche.

To write honestly and maybe forge connections with other people who might struggle with the same issues as I do.

So, instead of chastising myself because I haven’t posted on my blog. I can be honest about my struggle to post. I can celebrate the fact that I am posting today. Instead of flagellating myself because I have only written 7 pages on my novel, I can celebrate the fact that I have started.

This month, I have written 30 pages on my dissertation, seven pages of my novel, and published six posts on my blog. Perhaps, I do not need forgiveness after all.


The Art of Receiving Feedback


messy library (2)
Photo by Carla Meyrink from The Teaching Experiment

When I was a teacher, I dreaded receiving feedback on my performance in the classroom. One year, I had been given half of the highly disruptive students, the ones we called frequent flyers because they frequently ended up in the dean’s office. Needless to say, my classes didn’t always go the way I wanted them to. My evaluator, a retired vice-principal, was flummoxed by the behavior she saw in my class when she observed me. I had an autistic student who regularly screamed and forced my other students to be evacuated. I had students who swore, fought, and even refused to sit down. That same year, a student broke my ribs and threw me into a wall.


Needless to say, she had no idea how to help me improve my teaching when faced with such extreme behaviors. She finally told me to “reorganize that shelf over there.” I have to admit the shelf was messy. Students had thrown books up there as well as trash, and one end was sagging under my battered dictionaries, but I could see no connection between cleaning the shelf and improving my teaching. Another year, a principal observed one of my classes (which was actually well-behaved ) and told me to “create a system of loaners” for students who did not have a pencil. Again, the feedback she gave me did not seem to connect to what I was trying to do as a teacher.

Often, though, the feedback I received from other observers was quite helpful and fearhelped me to improve as a teacher. Even though I could see the value of the feedback, however, I dreaded receiving it. Receiving feedback on my work, whether it be teaching or writing or any other endeavor, can be a daunting experience.


Recently, I signed up for Christian Mihai’s From 0 to 5K in Six Months programPart of the program involves Christian reviewing my blog and offering me feedback. I waited in dread for a week as he reviewed my blog. I kept trying to reassure myself that the feedback would be fine, that positive or negative it would help me become a better writer. But I feared it.


Even though feedback about performance is about something I do and not who I am. I have trouble separating my self from my work. To me, I am my work. In reality, however, my self and my work are two separate entities. If I fail as a writer, it doesn’t mean I’ve failed as a person. People may not like my writing, but, in the end, I am responsible for how I receive the feedback. I can choose to use it to make myself better or to ignore it (as I did with reorganizing the shelf). I have to remember that not all feedback is applicable to what I want to do, but I can decide which feedback will help me.

As a writer, I need to continue to seek feedback from other writers. Without feedback, my writing will grow stagnant. I need to perfect the art of receiving the feedback, use it as I see fit (or not), and then let it go.