An epic journey. A long expedition filled with tragedy and triumph. A boondoggle of misspelled words and spell check, never-ending hours of blank documents, and writer’s blocks, large and looming.
Writing for Odyssey hasn’t simply been sugar and spice and everything nice. Just like work deadlines, school deadlines, and project deadlines, writing deadlines require a lot of effort to meet. Unlike work, school, and projects, however, writing for Odyssey is fairly unstructured. There are no specific topic criteria that you have to meet, no required prompts for you to fulfill, and no themes or opinions that you have to align with. It can be daunting to open up a new word document and know that your ideas have to be freshly generated, and that your words are a direct reflection of solely your thoughts.
Odyssey presents me with a weekly challenge. The biggest part of the challenge is sitting down and coming up with an idea. I would like to sincerely apologize to those who have had to occupy the same room as me as I’ve brainstormed, because a lot of groaning, muttering, head scratching, and violent back-spacing goes into my articles. When I first joined Odyssey, I was convinced that I had a dozen introspective observations, a handful of quirky ideas, and certainly enough creative brain power to generate at least a couple more fun topics. How quickly I ran through all of those ideas, how easily they dissipated into thin air. Articles don’t come easily; they don’t spill from my fingertips onto the page like I thought they would when I first started.
But Odyssey has been worth it. Odyssey pushes me as a writer. For me, those deadlines aren’t just another deadline to meet. They are reminders that writing is a craft, a skill, that constantly needs to be whetted and sharpened and honed. Pushing yourself to write regardless of whether your ideas are flowing or not is like going to your sports practices even when you’re not really “in the mood”, or you’re still sore from leg day, or you know you’ll be doing conditioning all practice. And that lack of guidance, those missing prompts and criteria, that can make brainstorming difficult? That writing freedom is also incredibly liberating. I have no obligation or pressure to write from a particular stance or with a predetermined opinion. Odyssey has gifted me with a way to share what I might think is an unpopular perspective, and to potentially connect with a whole conglomeration of people who have similar ideas or critical contributions to my thinking.
Odyssey isn’t all fun and games, but nothing that pushes you to be better, get greater, and grow and a craftsmen ever really is. I have a responsibility to not just Odyssey but to my writing, and that responsibility has taught me how to keep pushing myself, reassess my previous pieces, and work through those seemingly impenetrable writer’s blocks.
Odyssey has given me the opportunity to share my stories. It has blessed me with a medium to share my moments of inspiration and enthusiasm, and it has pushed me to become a better writer in those despairing moments of idea-less voids. In this odyssey, I’ve published articles that have become tragedies and triumphs. I have fought with monsters of apathy and discouragement, and I have flirted with sweet airs of enthusiasm and inspiration. Odyssey has been the channel through which my ship has sailed, and I don’t plan abandoning this ship any time soon.