On Writer’s Block and “Serious Writing”

Almost two months ago — yikes — I was working on a blog post for Treat Yo Self Day (which I celebrate whenever the mood takes me, tbh) when Northern California caught fire. Here I was, writing about bath bombs and shower beers while one of my best friends couldn’t sleep because he was constantly being evacuated, allowed to go home, and told to evacuate again.

(He and his family are fine, in case you were wondering.)

“How can you write about such frivolous things when people are dying,” scolded my Inner Critic, better known as my Inner Saboteur. “Don’t you want to be a serious writer? Don’t you care about real issues?”

With that, I lost all desire to write anything fun. I buckled down and focused on writing for work because I was a serious writer.

And I seriously hated it.

Here’s the thing: there are always terrible things happening. Sometimes they are as close to home as Santa Rosa. But most of the time, that’s not the case. Writing about terrible things doesn’t make wanting to write about fun things less legitimate.

If anything, it might be more important. I can’t get on Twitter without wanting to throw my phone at the wall. I can’t listen to NPR without screaming at my poor defenseless car radio. Small victories like figuring out my personal style and finding pants that fit me are more important than ever. Terrible things happen every day, and sometimes I will write about them, but there’s no reason not to write about my everyday life and its little joys, too.

So here’s to being a serious writer who happens to write about fun, frivolous things. Because the alternative turned out to be not writing anything, and that’s the worst outcome of all.

Yes, I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted here. I feel like I’m forever struggling with balancing writing for work versus writing for me. But that’s a blog post for later.

For now, if you’ve missed me pontificating about quidditch, fear not! Alejo Enriquez of How to Play Quidditch invited me to join him and Harry Greenhouse for a podcast.

Alejo’s site is a cool resource for learning about the games, but the podcast is the real gem. He’s been looking for people who are knowledgeable about aspects of quidditch and bringing them on for podcasts. This pod’s topic was one close to my heart: college quidditch and how we as community players can help foster it. Give it a listen here.

West Coast Bias: Crimson Cup & Chandra College Cup

I didn’t write anything last night because I was chatting with my partner in podcast crime instead. Ryan Smythe and I podcast together pretty regularly anyway, so we decided to make it official. Check out the first episode of West Coast Bias here.

Byline Brag: October 4, 2017

Ugh, I am still recovering from last night’s four-hour city council meeting. Nothing like settling in for the long haul after you see that the one thing you’re covering is the last on a long agenda.

But that’s a story for next week. This week: I was on the front page!

Continue reading

Byline Brag: September 27, 2017

While I’m normally the editor of the Schools and Business & Real Estate sections, this week I was responsible for three sections. Last week was my first time running our Your Home section, which usually runs every last week of the month.

Scrambling to fill three sections had me freaked out at first, especially since I didn’t have anything from our usual columnists. But by the end of the week, I managed to pull it off. Bring on October; I already have it scheduled.

Your Home

Any day I can comment on the craziness that is the Bay Area housing market is a good day.

If you don’t know what an Eichler home is, think Midcentury Modern. Think Mad Men. Think clean lines and lots of glass. You get the picture. If not, then here’s a picture:

Eichler Plan

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Liz, what do houses designed and built before your parents came to America have to do with today’s housing market? Aren’t you just stretching so you can get on your soapbox?”

Well, Eichler’s vision of inclusiveness didn’t stop at trying to bring the outside into the home with open designs and glass everywhere. He built for the middle class. He built for everyone. He had a nondiscrimination policy back when other developers were trying to keep minorities out of the neighborhoods they were building. That was many angle.

And now his homes sell for millions and are sought after by collectors. That’s Silicon Valley irony for you.

Read more about Eichler Homes: Modernism for the Masses here.

Schools

It was a bit of a slow news week for schools (unlike this week, which has had me running around town every day), so I took two events that happened independently of each other and brought them together into something more substantial than they would have been alone. Los Altos High and Loyola Elementary hosted green commutes last week, which was the thread I used to weave these stories together.

Business & Real Estate

A local couple donated 50 million to Iowa State’s business school, which is now being named after them. Just another day in the Los Altos Hills.