The Big Chill Frosts Blogger Bill

brain freezeBy Bill Henk – It’s been mighty cold here in the frozen tundra of Wisconsin this past week.  Temperatures plummeted to -25 below zero and wind chills approached a dangerously frigid -50.  Today promised to bring some relief, but the outside thermometer display in my home office tonight still reads a ridiculous -17.

Not surprisingly, normal activities pretty much ground to a halt in the region as newscasts ‘tickered’ one community cancellation after another.  For the children’s sake, all K-12 schools were mercifully closed, and even church services were postponed, and not just for the elderly — ANYONE who dared venture out to worship put themselves at risk.  Such is life when frostbite to exposed flesh can occur in a mere five minutes.

As for me, nearly all of my regular routines succumbed to the bitter cold.  My daughter needed some attention to avert complete cabin fever boredom and our poor labrador retriever couldn’t even relieve herself, because her paws froze within seconds of snow exposure, and she had to limp back to our house with my help.  Doggy snow booties are now on my immediate shopping list.

got nothingWith all of this abnormalcy, I experienced an unexpected by-product of the bone-chilling weather — a virtual brain freeze.  Despite my best efforts, I can’t think of a single educational topic to write about to save my life.  My worst case of blogger’s block ever is officially upon me.  I’ve got nuthin’!

Making matters worse, I’m really feeling the pressure to deliver now, because I haven’t blogged in the past three weeks.  This is by far my longest hiatus since the Marquette Educator launched.  It started with the onslaught of work I had to do at the end of the semester, and then the holidays enticed me to extend my moratorium.  I justified my writing respite knowing readership would be down with the students on break and other readers preoccupied with holiday happenings.  And I somehow summoned up the unmitigated audacity to nearly convince myself that my time away from blogging might actually be well-earned.

In fairness to myself, this time of year can be glacial for educational topics.  No avalanche-like controversies or  debates are looming, even in the schooling soap opera that is Milwaukee.  Plus, I’m sitting on one very big education story that I can’t divulge yet and have another potential biggie that is not ready for prime time.

Nonetheless, I’m feeling guilty.  My role is to anchor the blog, but to get untracked I feel like I need one of those Arctic ice-breaking ships with its strengthened hull, ice-clearing shape, and greatly expanded power.  For all intents and purposes, my formulations are frozen.

All of this rumination reminds me of the brilliant TV comedy Seinfeld, a series that cleverly poked fun at itself by implying in a roundabout way that it was “a show about nothing.”  On the contrary, the writing on that show never failed in character development, dialogue, and disparate plot twists that always remarkably came together in the end.

writer's blockBut I’ve got nuthin’ like that.  All I have is some speculation about why it’s 3:30 a.m. with my deadline for this post four hours away, and I’m sitting here spewing forth a stream of weak-minded self-consciousness.

In part, I’ve gotten out of the habit of writing, and that’s a cognitive activity best served by regularity.  To be a good blogger, you’ve got to be in” blogging mode” — always looking for subject matter, especially topics or angles that will engage readers, and feeling inherently excited about the prospect of creating some writing magic.

Ironically, while struggling to come up with a respectable post here, I actually just now started feeling myself getting back into that mode, and am finding renewed comfort and reassurance there. You see, running out of topics, being unmotivated to write, and an inability to feel gratification in the process itself would signal the end of my blog-anchoring days.  When one’s writing muse takes an extended, and perhaps permanent, vacation and writing fails to bring joy or satisfaction, it’s time to retire one’s blogging software.

That day is coming.  But it’s not here yet.  And how do I know?

Because when I look down at that very same blogging software, my word count stands at a hefty 670!   Put differently, I’m not sure what I’ve got, but I’ve apparently got a little somethin’ somethin’ after all.

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