I did not realize when I began this project on Dec. 1 how totally stoked I would be to finish up with it. And I’m even more happy now that I see the final prompt of the whole shebang:
Prompt: Core story. What central story is at the core of you, and how do you share it with the world? (Bonus: Consider your reflections from this month. Look through them to discover a thread you may not have noticed until today.)
Jesus H. Christ. I’m just going to pretend that the whole “core story” business is not part of this prompt, because if I have a core story (and I’m not saying that I do, because eewww) I certainly don’t think that’s public property and I don’t intend to share it with the world.
So let’s just pretend that the “bonus” is the actual prompt, because that’s what I’d wanted to do with this whole reverb10 exercise in the first place. I just looked over all of my reverb10 posts, and I feel like as a writing exercise, this thing was a success for me.
I began it because I thought it would be a nice way to finish up the year on the blog, and a nice way to round out my sabbatical time. At times I was frustrated by the prompts, and if I had it to do over again I think that I would have been less perversely wed to the idea that each prompt was an “assignment” of some sort. I suggested to Nels a few days ago that I felt like it might have been more productive for me to view the prompts (especially the ones with “moment” in them) more like mad-libs, where I just replaced the annoying word with another word I actually wanted to write about.
Even with that being the case, though, I did appreciate that the project was about positive reflection, if that makes sense. While it’s true that I did respond snarkily to a good many of the prompts because they felt so cheesy/fake to me, I wasn’t actually looking for prompts that themselves were more snarky, if that makes sense. I have enough snark in my life and in my heart. I wanted this project to be about peeling back that defensive layer of snark (well, er, as much as I’m able to do that). Here’s the thing: snark is the way that I posture. It’s dishonest, for me. And the insidious thing about that is that I think a good many of us view snark as being “more true” than other ways of being, so it’s in some ways the ultimate pose. Now, sometimes it’s funny, and sometimes it allows me to blow off steam, and it probably will always be a fundamental part of the way that I communicate. But the value in this project for me was that it forced me to try (sometimes successfully and sometimes not) to leave the snark behind (at least a little) and instead to, I don’t know, try to be more genuinely nice in the way that I was writing. (Again, I did not always succeed with that, but it was something I tried.) It’s worth noting that from doing the reverb10 thing it became clear to me that its approach just promotes another kind of posturing that I enjoy a whole lot less than I enjoy being snarky. I guess that’s good to know, too.
I also think it’s worth noting that I never would have done the reverb10 project if it were another year. Sort of like how I never do NaNoWriMo because who the hell has time to write a novel in November – JUST WHO?- I would, under normal circumstances have heard about this project and said, “well, isn’t that a nice idea, but I’m sorry it’s the end of the semester and I don’t have the time or the patience for this navel-gazing.” But because I wasn’t teaching, and because I’ve felt… I’ve felt like I should devote some time to reflection so that when I return from sabbatical I’ll be able to have a sense of what this time has meant. I mean, sure, I’ll have my report that I turn in, and so I’ll be able to understand what it’s meant in terms of work. But I feel like if I return and I don’t have a sense of where I am personally that will have been a huge waste of the luxury of this time. I want for this past 8 months to have meant something. Maybe that’s stupid. I don’t know. But I don’t want to return to the daily grind having learned nothing from this experience.
So I didn’t read through all of the posts from the month carefully, but in skimming some and reading others more deeply, I tried to do so with a certain amount of critical distance, tried to imagine that I was not myself and that I was just reading these posts as an outsider. And I don’t know if I’d say that there is a concrete thread that runs through each and every one of them, but I think there is a sort of emotional thread. As I read, I did get a sense of centeredness and also of wanting to protect a feeling of positivity. I got a sense of a person who does at least to some extent understand and accept her flaws, but who isn’t interested in wallowing in those flaws. I got a sense of a person who is perhaps a little more relaxed than I typically perceive myself to be (but maybe that was the effect of the hippie writing project?), and also a person who does have clear ideas about what sort of life she wants to have perhaps more than I give myself credit for doing. I got a sense of general well-being and satisfaction, in spite of there being some things still left to work on.
I feel weird writing the above paragraph because what if those aren’t the things other people see? What if I’m projecting what I want to have discovered in the project into this post and not really describing what’s there? I don’t think I’m doing that, but well, I wouldn’t, would I?
And so I’m not sure what difference all of the above makes, if any, but it feels good to have given myself the time to think it all through – both throughout the month and now on the last day.
[I may do some real reflecting and resolution-making later, as I like to do on New Year’s Eve. But for now, let’s just all do a little dance of joy that reverb10 is over!!!!!]