… from the bungalow

Left to My Own Devices: Why I Write (Blogger Idol Week 4)


Here was my post for Week 4 of the Blogger Idol competition. Several people have said it’s my best post so far, and I have to agree. Thank you all for voting for me! I’m through to Week 5 and I wasn’t even in the bottom three this week! 😉

“Daydreams frequently.”
“Has difficulty interacting with peers and teachers.”

These phrases (along with one other) routinely–predictably–appeared on my elementary school report cards. I rarely-to-never actually spoke to a teacher until 2nd grade, and that includes preschool. That’s three years of avoiding interpersonal interaction with adults. I had very few friends, and the concept of understanding and respecting boundaries often eluded me.

Some might say I spent (spend) a lot of time in my own head. Looking back, I often wasn’t “present” mentally. I’d miss my own bus stop, for example, or I’d become a lion tamer during class–actions and sound effects included–when all of the other boys and girls were listening quietly to the teacher. “Chris!” Suddenly, all eyes were on me, and I’d be jerked back into reality, center stage spotlight, except now I wasn’t the adored lion tamer, but the freak show.

This brings to mind a song that hits me hard every time I hear it, and it doesn’t much matter which version: “Mad World” by Tears for Fears. (Interestingly, even though I wouldn’t hear it until a few years later, the song was recorded when I was in 1st or 2nd grade, and in 3rd grade I went to a new school.) The cover by Gary Jules is hauntingly, depressingly beautiful. If you haven’t heard it, I recommend checking it out. “Hello, teacher, tell me, what’s my lesson? Look right through me, look right through me…” I’m so grateful to the couple of teachers (and my mom) who actually “saw me” for who I was as a young kid.

But having spent all that time with my own thoughts, reading, listening to music, playing RPGs on my NES, etc., I became a storyteller. I made connections between the people and things in my world. Like a mental connect-the-dots picture, I started to fill in the blanks, except the connect-the-dots were more four-dimensional. The real challenge is being able to tell these stories effectively without body language or gestures. As my Gramps likes to say, “the problem with communication is that the words get in the way.”

There are a few reasons I write. To me, writing is (1) therapeutic. It’s a way of appreciating my own feelings enough to try to put them into words. It’s also (2) a way of creating meaning and making connections with and for others. I often say that I make observations and let the readers make their own connections. I’m also hoping that writing will (3) lead to other creative endeavors, like a gateway drug. (Writing can be addicting.) But, ultimately, I think it’s (4) the challenge.

See, I have immense respect for wordsmiths; people who hear the call of powerful storytelling and accept its challenge. It beckons us to put our thoughts and feelings to good use by facilitating an experience for others with our words. It dares us to establish context, provide perspective and create meaning from nothing. It defies us to speak that which is ineffable.

“Daydreams frequently.”
“Has difficulty interacting with peers and teachers.”
“Extremely creative; should be a writer.”

I accept.

~ Chris (https://fromthebungalow.wordpress.com/)

Judges Comments:

“I loved this post. I think you may have described my son to a T, and it gives me hope that his ‘lack of focus’ will turn into something wonderful like it has for you. I read your blog often, and this post put a whole new perspective on the things I read from you.
Heather Reese, My Husband Ate All My Ice Cream

“This was an excellent post as it not only masterfully worked in the assignment but led us to a deeper understanding of where you are coming from.

The fact that it was a flowing narrative that didn’t leave me bored didn’t hurt either.

Good job.
Allison Duncan, SVALLIE.NET: The Nerd Connection

“Definitely a good post. My favorite line is “It dares us to establish context, provide perspective and create meaning from nothing.” – I read that one over and over again, and now you have inspired me (but more on that later). Being able to inspire others is a gift, and I can tell from this post that you’re not afraid to use that gift. Great job! “
Amy, Non-Stop Mom 

“Like Heather, I have an all too imaginative child and this post really gave me some insight into her world. Fantastic!

The only part that threw me was when you started numbering your reasons. When you are writing and it is flowing so smoothly, avoid anything that will stop your reader in their tracks and shake them back to reality. Let the words continue to flow and keep us in your dreamland ’til the end. ”
T. Rojas, from Motherhood: The Definition of Insanity


Author: Chris

Introspection to a fault. College administrator, parent, soapmaker.

10 thoughts on “Left to My Own Devices: Why I Write (Blogger Idol Week 4)

  1. Nice job, Christopher. There is so much more to learn about you.

  2. I love the words of this entry, but I also love how the images so beautifully complement them. I’ve never thought too closely about why I write (apart from to figure out what I think or feel about a given topic!), but each of your answers resound with me.

    This post’s conclusion was absolutely perfect. I love when entries come full circle, and do so in such a powerful, uplifting way.

    Also? One of my favorite haunts my last year of law school was The Hotel Cafe. I went to see Gary Jules perform many times, arriving early enough to watch rehearsal one time . . . and to see the amusing temporary remedy (it involved a curtain) to a wardrobe mishap! I love Mad World so much.

    • Thanks, Deborah! You’re so right about writing as a way to figure out what we think or feel. Thoughts and feelings can be so nebulous. It’s when we start to process them through language that they really grab a foothold. That’s how I feel, anyway.

      I really did go for a full-circle conclusion that would strike at the heart of the reader. Thanks for noticing. 🙂

      I’ve never seen Gary Jules live, but I wouldn’t miss it if given the opportunity. Sounds like a fun time!

  3. I love this entry. Mad World is one of my favorite songs and your mention of it really reinforces the “two peas in a pod” sentiment.

    I think that as girls often do, I dealt with my difficulties quietly rather than acting them out (though I too had a tendency to miss my bus stop). My brothers acted more as you did, and every day I look at my son and think how much like my brothers he is. I hope to use my own experiences to help him, and reading beautifully written stories like yours helps even more. ♥

    • Thank you, Jess! Ironically, I see some of my childhood traits in my stepson. Chances are good that I’m harder on him partly because I see traits in him that I dislike in myself. I need to use my own experiences to empower him.

  4. This was a great post to stumble upon. It really made me stop and think about writing. I realize that this was an Idol assignment, but I really feel that you could have posted it at any time, even just today, as I found it touching and relevant. I’m so glad you left this in your archives. Thank you.

    • Thanks so much, Bubblez King. It was my favorite post from last year’s competition. I’ve looked at it a couple of times since then for motivation and re-energizing! Interestingly, my high school A.P. English teacher (a different teacher than the one in this post, obviously) has started reading my blog lately, and has told me how much she enjoys it. She said I’m “golden” and “the real deal.” I love it, just as I love all of the comments here. The connection is heartwarming. Thanks again for reading!

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