Saturday, 12 July 2014

Why I Post

Everything you do should have a purpose. Whether it's writing, teaching, getting groceries, listening to that song on loop, petting the cat or making the bed. Maybe the purpose is simple relaxation. That's fine. As long as there's some reason you're doing it. That's the way my mind works, anyway.

It makes me curious as to the purpose YOU had behind starting to read this post. And if you feel like giving up partway through, comment below, let me know why.

Am I boring you?

Now, I don't want to analyze every little thing. I want to focus on things we do repeatedly. What we do so often it becomes a habit, or hobby. Because something must be drawing you back to that thing. What? Is it the same thing that got you started in the first place?

I'm going to self-analyze why I've been writing posts this month. Please tell me if any of it rings true with you too, or if I'm truly alone in the universe.

What is comes down to is, I like to write.  A lot.  (A lot more than I read, which I need to work on.)  But why do it?  Why write?  Why post?  Well...


1) I WANT RECORDS.  I often kept a diary when I was young. I still have most of my high school notes. I have a directory on my old computer full of roleplay log files. I've had this blog going now for almost two years. How often do I look back at these things that I have written?  Rarely.

I will if I'm reminded of something, and want to check on the details or to reminisce. For instance, in writing my "Classroom Evolution" post I had to look back to find out when I first changed things. When I wondered whether I'd ever been taught finance, I looked back into my old math binders. I've looked back through old diaries too. But usually, the records just sit there.

This will make sense later.
So why did I write them? To gather dust? Surely not. It's partly for reflection -- but that's always in the moment. It's partly because I'm hoping to find out whether others saw things the same way -- but there is no guarantee of response. So mostly, I think I want records because I'm particularly good at writing them. At summarizing, at distilling important content. People have remarked on this to me, both professionally and in roleplay. I don't know exactly what it is I'm doing (only you can tell me), but for me there is enjoyment to be found in recording things, and knowing that others enjoy reading those records.

This is probably why I have had the job of secretary through multitudes of committees over the years.

2) I WANT HELP. Possibly help making a decision. Possibly help with a specific issue I'm having. Possibly psychological help. One doesn't need to post publicly to get that help either, because the very act of writing can sometimes help to clarify things. Not always, but sometimes.

This particular post fits that category. I'm trying to find out what makes me tick, what makes me happy, and why I perhaps don't feel like I'm there. So, why puzzle it out in public, where you can read it too? Partly to see if others face the same struggles -- because that's always somewhat comforting. Partly to see if my experience is able to help you -- to give you some data you wouldn't otherwise have. But I think mostly it's to keep me accountable. Once it's out there, I can't pretend that these concerns aren't happening. I can't pretend that I'm not thinking about these things. Because now other people know.

But this is all non-fiction. If there's one thing I've come to understand about myself over the years, it's that I'm big on fiction writing too. After all, I wrote a serial for three years. This is where it gets interesting.

3) I WANT TO PROVOKE YOU. I want to catch you off guard. I want to make you laugh or flinch when you least expect it. I want to shatter your expectations as I say this post isn't category 2 at all. I want to be that song that somehow gets caught in your head at 11 o'clock at night which keeps you from getting to sleep because it's just that bizarre. For good or bad, I want to be your narrative earworm.

I also don't really want to do that in my non-fiction, but the non-fiction is what gets the most views.

You're welcome!  Wait, what?

Now, don't get me wrong.  There is definitely something to be said for a reality based post that shakes a person out of their complacency, gives an unexpected perspective, or makes you question the status quo. I like to think I've even written a post or two like that myself. But provoking people with my reality... there's an equal chance it will instead end up combining Higurashi with Exam Deadlines, connecting to the "most alarming tweet ever award".

I'm not sure that's the best plan.


I am the terror that flaps in the night.  I am Locutus of Borg.  I am the Walrus.  I am Canadian.  I am living in a box.  I am that soundtrack link you should have just clicked.  I am this mashup that you never expected either.  I am... bic pentameter!

See, some people write posts hoping to start a discussion. Some write to educate. Some write for the challenge, the reflection, or with the hope of eventually being published. Deep down, I'm none of that. Some may even write out of boredom. I can't live out my days as that person. That man is bereft of passion... and imagination! That is not who I am!

What I'm saying here is, if you're writing, it's important to have a good sense of not only why you're doing it, but who you are. To know what you're bringing to the table. For instance, something I'm damn good at is making unexpected links. Which makes me good at my job, as I can usually take mental leaps, and follow student logic. (I should probably spend more time on mathmistakes.) This ability is also one of the best tools I have to provoke people, as it works in fiction or non-fiction.  My other tool being unexpected plot twists.

Time Loops! I have them!

Where others may have the goal of blogging to inform, I see myself as an entertainer.  Yet sometimes, I wonder if I'm only entertaining myself.

Because the paradox is that I don't want to stand out.  I don't want to be chosen for a command.  The thought of having people I don't know asking me for my opinion on things worries me, since I don't see myself as an expert, more a jack of all trades.  I don't want to have my work analyzed by pundits or professionals, only by friends, and I certainly don't want to become too predictable in my output.

Is that just me?

What this means in terms of my writing is that you, as the reader, get something different day by day. (You might have noticed the mood whiplash in my posts all week. If not, where have you been?) It's like going to the grocery store and finding it's been replaced with a primary school. That's not what you wanted. Maybe you won't come back.

I've seen that somewhere...
Of course, we all change. When you think about it, we're all different people all through our lives, and that's okay, that's good, you gotta keep moving, so long as you remember all the people that you used to be. But my regeneration period is a bit haphazard, and if you stick it out, my prior incarnations may come back when you least expect them.

I'm kind of surprised this style has garnered over 500 followers on Twitter. Thanks guys!

To sum up: I am a niche market. But in a sense, we all are. Because the only person who can understand everything behind your words is YOU. The question is how to make the majority of what you present worthwhile for everyone else.

From that MY question is, if I aim to entertain, how I can get people on board for it with fiction? Like "Taylor's Polynomials"? If it's not an event record, and it's not a cry for help (not directly, anyway)... what brings you to the table? Anything? Why do YOU think I post?

Part 2 of my time travel chapter goes up tomorrow. I'd be curious to know what, if anything, provokes you to read it. And whether having your plot expectations altered (if we presume they are) is a good or a bad thing. FWIW, Part one is here.

Closing thought: If you caught even half of the references in this post, and you have some initiative you're working on, I'd like to see it. Because maybe we're on the same wavelength. Also, picking up on the reference in the two subheaders means you win the game.

Here's a hint.


  1. This post made me think a little more deeply about what I'm doing. I appreciate the question...and am still thinking about my answer. I am part of the #july2014challenge was the spark I needed. I know that there is value in this experience...definitely for the writer, hopefully for the reader. I appreciate your insight!

    1. Thanks for the thought! I've been sporadically following the #july2014 folks (without comment, until now) and like the idea of writing for a challenge. It's just not my style (as I learned with JulNoWriMo). Glad it's working for you.
      Glad I apparently provided insight too -- I'll be honest, this post started out serious, then when I got to point #3, it veered out into left field. I kept running with it, because, well, that's me. I also let it sit for 24 hours before posting, as I do, because sometimes I wonder if I'm a bit TOO random for public consumption. Maybe not? I suppose since I've now pinned it to my Twitter timeline, I'll have to hope not. Thanks again for reading!

  2. It's interesting that after reading a number of your regular posts and looking through a little bit of the serial, I am actually more entertained by your non-fiction writing. Part of it is the fact that I just don't read fiction, like ever. But your normal posts are both complete (you notice lots of details like a fiction writer would include) and entertaining (never drop the images). However, they have the added benefit of being super relatable to another math teacher and someone who shares some patterns of thought. I get to know the character, YOU, really well and get to see how the story unfolds with the benefit of insight into teaching, teaching math, and the ability to interact with the main character when I choose via comments, Twitter, and possibly in real life once in a while.

    1. Thanks for the thoughts. I think "relatable" is definitely a feature math teachers look for on social media... which is probably why I have to acknowledge that they are NOT the audience for my serial. Not in the form I wrote it, at least. Ah well. At the least, my goal of entertaining is working out.

      Two questions though - if you don't read fiction, what makes you say I notice details like fiction writers would? And when you speak of the images, do you mean what I draw, the 'demotivational' theme, my captions, or is it the whole package in general? Just curious.

    2. For the fiction, I don't actively read any fiction, but having gone through school and doing at least a little bit of fiction reading on my own growing up, I recognize the style. Non-fiction writers seems more focused on conveying an idea or concept, which is generally how I write, while fiction writers put a lot of effort into helping the reader visualize what is happening, which is what I think you do especially well. As for the images, I think the captions are the best part, but they wouldn't be good without a fitting image above. I think it continues the theme of imagery in the writing -- literally with an image -- which is why it is very easy to read and experience.