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Be Like Me: Just Write Five Different Blog Starters and Don’t Hit Publish

Jose Vilson Jose 3 Comments

Sometime after Monday, I thought I’d have the hang of this blogging thing again. I was fairly confident that I could crank out some really good topics for my blog, and possibly a few tweets related to these extensive pieces. I would carve out my usual 8pm to 10pm schedule for my blogging process and come up with something both insightful and gripping. The headlines kept coming up all week, some of them too good to pass up.

And I did. These otherwise easy layups didn’t even come out of my hands since Monday, ending up running out of bounds for the week. Turnover city. And all those other good metaphors.

On Tuesday, I wanted to write about the fact that Black students are three times more likely than White students to get suspended in school, Arne Duncan’s reaction, and my own experiences about it (Colleague Liz Dwyer eventually did). I would have approached it from The Throne’s “Murder to Excellence” wave, and then jumped right into it.

As a matter of fact, the first line in my draft is, “Then, people ask me why I blog so hard. If someone told me that my chances of getting suspended were three times higher than a person who might have the same intellectual capacity but just looked differently than I do, I’d probably question the entire system of equal opportunity and piss off the rest of the year.”

But, as I wrote my next sentence, … “WAH!”

Then a few small sniffles and taps against a mattress.

“WAH!”

Then a little more quiet.

I look at my fiancee. She looks at me. I look back at her. She looks back at me.

“Are YOU going to stay with him all night?” No, I’m not. She is.

Sure enough, I’m picking him up, whistling in his ear, throwing him over my left shoulder, putting formula in a Dr. Brown’s bottle (more complicated than a regular one for sure), sitting him down on my lap, flipping him around so I can put his bib on, and stopping the “WAAAHH!” in one swoop of the bottle. By the time the drinking, burping, wiping, diaper and pajama changing, rocking until he sleeps again cycle is over, it’s 11:00pm, right on time for a shower and my own cycle.

Blogging as a new parent is HARD.

The precious hours we have to actually get a thought out shouldn’t be reduced to a Facebook status or a tweet; both seem so ephemeral unless people share it with their worlds. Plus, I prefer the long form because I rarely get to rant in person, preferring to listen 75% of the time.

Alas, having long, careful thoughts don’t mesh with this more pertinent lifestyle. How many of us can truly be an effective dad and an effective blogger at the same time? Of course, I can always just post snippets of things I’ve seen around the web, or pre-program all my posts for the week, yet every time I do that, it seems inauthentic, like, “Jose, that’s not what I was thinking that day. Wack.”

The other four starters went something like,

“For Women’s History Day, Rush Limbaugh was gifted an enema for his mouth …”

“Why hasn’t Superfly Jimmy Snuka elbow-dropped Secretary of Education Arne Duncan from the top rope or a podium?”

“Another year, another African country in dire need of your rescue, America!”

“Yes, I was in Gotham Schools yesterday, NYC Department of Education employee. You mad late, yo.”

At some point, the baby will sleep more than four hours at a time, NYC Department of Education will unblock blogs critical of their pedagogical policies, and I’ll actually get to stick to my Sunday / Monday / Tuesday / Thursday schedule. Until then, I can only promise that every word I write reflects the my truth as I see it, limited only by the other roles I’ve taken on.

They say that “writers write,” but sometimes writers can’t write, because writers tend to be more than writers. Writers are people collecting experiences with which to write, like ax-men finding wood to stoke their fires.

Jose, who can’t wait to tell you all about the next piece …

About Jose Vilson

José Luis Vilson is a math educator, blogger, speaker, and activist. For more of my writing, buy my book This Is Not A Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class, and Education, on sale now.

Comments 3

  1. Bill Ivey

    Here’s the thing. None of your blog openers surprised me (though I surely would have loved to read any or all of them). You influence our live even without writing. And we get it.
    Herr’s another thing. Many of us get it because we’ve been there. I remember 17-odd years ago I’d be doing something Fraught With Meaning to make the world A Better Place, and I would hear my own son. And I would be frustrated because all I want to do is make the world a better place for him. And then I go to him and pick him up and hold him close. And I realize I am.
    All of it matters. I can’t wait for your next piece – when the time is right. :-)

  2. Tracy Rosen

    Oh…how I know how you feel. And you are two. Imagine if you were only one with him!

    But yes, sometimes writers can’t write…on paper (or the screen). But we can sure write up a storm in our heads. And eventually it will find its way to paper. No doubt.

  3. Damian

    Welcome to the club, dad! Now that mine are 4 and 7, I look back on the days of infancy and remember how other than work, life just kind of went on hold while my kids were that age. Both their first years are kind of blurs to me at this point, but I will tell you the same thing everyone told me at the time: enjoy the time now. I watch my son ride his first two-wheel bike and remember when he used to fit in the crook of my arm. I watch my daughter twirl in her princess dress-up gear and remember when I used to feed her her bottle (also Dr. Brown’s; brilliant choice, btw) at 11pm sharp every night, regardless of whatever I was grading or writing at the time. Life more or less stops for your babies.

    Your blog and your audience will always be there. Take a break and have some time with your son, quiet, loud, or otherwise.

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