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The news that keeps us Onward On!

The Carroll News

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Keeping up with Kincaid: Have I hit writer’s block?

Laken Kincaid
Editor-in-Chief, Laken Kincaid, reflects on their thoughts from the past week.

It has been rather difficult to start writing columns again.

I have sat here for the past three hours staring at a blank Google document in my new Bernet accommodations while watching video essays on the “Shrek” franchise. Even changing my LED lights from yellow to green to yellow again has not jump started my creative drive. If anything, the flickering has actually developed the onset of a migraine.

Usually, my columns are the easiest thing to craft compared to other pieces that require days of research and interviews. My feelings are my feelings and they should be easy to articulate. Most of the time, a topic comes to mind and I am able to cultivate some semblance of a cohesive thought that is acceptable to be in print. That is how it has always been and I prided myself on this ability to construct a narrative from nothing but an errant idea.

Albeit, some of these pieces are better than others. There are a few of my entries that I hate to look back on because I wrote them in a haste just to check something off of my to-do list. As we have previously established so many times before, I am obsessed with the idea of not only progress but innovation; when I finish one project I can swiftly move on to the next. While, under this ideology, a column feels ingenuine at the time, at least it is something that I can add to a list of accomplishments.

Yet, these conglomerates of feckless ramblings do not offer decent returns; these spiels are often lost in the wind among my myriad of other pieces not only in my general repertoire but also just among the ones I publish in one week alone. It is almost as if the standard mindless reader can tell that there is no merit behind these words and they entertain the piece with just as little care as I did writing it.

While the instant gratification of hitting “ready for review” is intoxicating, rereading the work later in life makes me shirk because there is no true vulnerability or emotion in the paragraphs. They are all just sentences trying to be a deep, Ramona Flowers-esque metaphor. They serve as a shroud of faux emotion that I am frankly embarrassed of.

Like any writer, I currently have a list of column topics in my iPhone notes app just like others might have a catalog of baby names or a bucket list. Some of them revolve around my interest in critiquing the current political system which ebbs and flows with my energy. Others focus on my love for certain video games or movie franchises (be prepared for a manifesto on my adoration for “Megamind”). All of these ideas once came from a flicker of inspiration that has since dwindled with time.

Originally, this was going to be a piece where I came to terms with my “annoying” habits like becoming frustrated when my messages are left “on read” (my apologies to my millennial and Gen X coworkers) or how obnoxiously close I sit to my steering wheel. Eventually, I do want to write something on this topic if not for anything besides my own moral gratification. But at this moment in time, I do not feel like I can notate such contemplations with the gusto they deserve.

Another idea I had was to discuss vulnerability and my love-hate relationship with the fickle concept of openness and revealing a chink in the armor. The proposition of telling others my deepest fears and hopes is not something I relish and I tend to turn my nose up at the concept of sentimentality. There were multiple, biblical revelations I was prepared to document on this opinion, but my drive towards it has turned stale.

There were so many ideas and lessons I learned over the past few months that felt brilliant at the time. Yet they don’t feel appropriate to write about now because both the subjects and I have aged. My initial conceptions of them have evolved since the first time I even thought “man, this would make a good column.” I agree, those abstractions did represent me for a time, but even now, they don’t feel just to touch upon until the ingenuity strikes again.

Like a few of my past columns, these ideas would not be a representation of who I am in this current moment; the person typing a diary-like reflection while staring at a tapestry of Gibby from iCarly. They were the ponderings of the person in Dolan Hall who worked with robots at their internship all day.

I find myself looking back at my favorite additions to the “Keeping up with Kincaid” collection that I would be proud to show a potential employer and future grandchildren alike. They are the ones where I can spy my current writing style peeking out from behind the limericks like a suede curtain. Rather than pressed on like an army heading for a doomed battle, they are sewn together intricately by life experiences and heat-of-the-moment passion. They were inspired by fleeting moments that left me wondering or cycles of contemplation that I thought needed their time in the limelight. They weren’t forced out of my brain, they were pressing to be released.

These columns are raw. They showcase an inner dialogue that is difficult to articulate but easy to muse about alone with a Red Bull and Taylor Swift playing distantly in the background. They can’t be rationalized or boiled down any further. While my other articles are hard-hitting, “Keeping up with Kincaid” forces me to grasp the ground and take the reporter hat off. I am no longer a journalist, I am a person who experiences the world rather than simply observing it.

Perhaps that is the appeal of hitting a writer’s block like the one I face now. I am forced to look back behind me and view the growth scattered through webpages of this newspaper. Honestly, the headway I’ve made is pretty cool to see.

From what I can view now, that growth looks like examining and dissecting my emotional responses appropriately and not carving a story from rotted wood. It is being okay with stagnation for the sake of my personal betterment. While it is easy for me to be concerned or even angry at this lapse in inspiration, it is also enjoyable to be challenged to get out of my comfort zone with something that appropriately encapsulates my mental state in this very moment without the need for grandeur.

While flipping through my old writings and comparing them to the here and now, I realized that these strong emotions of both fervor and zeal come and go. Maybe the grand metaphor behind this column is to seize the moment and, as Eminem says, “don’t squander it.” Or, for all one knows, I could not be imposing any overarching takeaway. This could just be a piece that does not hinge on a lesson like a fable or Marvel movie.

Whatever it may be, I am going to savor it before the rumination fades.

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About the Contributor
Laken Kincaid
Laken Kincaid, Editor-in-Chief
Laken Kincaid is the Editor-in-Chief for The Carroll News from Beckley, West Virginia. They are a senior at John Carroll University who is double majoring in political science and communications (digital media) and minoring in leadership development. Laken has written for The Carroll News since the start of their freshman year and has previously served as a staff reporter, campus section editor and managing editor of the paper. They have received 18 Best of SNO awards, a Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence award for Region 4 and two honorable mentions from the College Media Association. They have also been recognized by universities like Georgetown for their investigative reports. Additionally, they also write political satire for The Hilltop Show and feature stories on global poverty for The Borgen Project. In addition to their involvement with The Carroll News, Laken is involved with the Kappa Delta sorority, the speech and debate team, the Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion, the Improv club and other organizations. They also serve as the news director for WJCU 88.7, John Carroll's own radio station, and as the president for John Carroll's Society of Professional Journalists chapter.  Laken also started their own national nonprofit organization known as Art with the Elderly which they have won the President's Volunteer Service Award and the Humanity Rising Award for. When not writing, Laken can be found doing graphic design for their internship with Union Home Mortgage or working as a resident assistant and peer learning facilitator on campus. Laken also enjoys skiing and watching true crime documentaries. In the future, Laken hopes to become a political journalist for a national news organization or to be a campaign commercial editor for politicians. To contact Laken, email them at [email protected].

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