Mediating Between What I Think I Want and What Makes My Soul Sing

Capstone has completely and utterly taken over all of my brain space.


The past few weeks I have existed in a constant state of wracking my brain for topics that would maybe quench my brain’s writing needs for an entire semester. Several plausible topics have felt promising at their birth. Some have even been excitedly posed to my mom on our weekly phone call. And yet, none have survived.


“What about the four topics in your Pre-Proposal??” you are probably asking.


The short answer is that none of them feel right – none of them have sparked my writer’s insomnia, stubbornly keeping my eyes open past my 11pm bedtime, directing them towards the possible orderings of chunks of ideas or the streaks of words against the dark nothingness of my bedroom ceiling.


The long answer is that all of my ideas are too safe.


Before delving more thoroughly into my current struggle with veering on the safe side, full disclaimer: this is not a new problem for me. A year ago, I took English325 which, for those who have not had the chance to take it, involves learning the art of writing personal essays. A central theme of the class is using an experience or a central characteristic of yourself to bestow a greater truth upon your readers. Slight tidbit about me: I genuinely love the world that I live in. Walking between classes, I am often gazing up and smiling, responding to an upwelling of appreciation for the delicate and ever changing patches of sky uniquely traced by tree branches. My heart feels overjoyed when condensed water droplets vertically hit my face, or when rays of warm radiation sink deep into my pores. The other day I almost cried because I was so overwhelmed by the beauty of the natural world and of my own journey within it.


Knowing this about myself, I had always assumed and wanted to write about my love for the world. And yet, each time I tried to do so, I found myself enticed by a different topic, one that was darker and more emotionally difficult because it just felt right. Even when I wrote about Love and initially framed it as a surreal and too good to be true experience, I twisted it by focusing on the heartache that accompanied my long distance relationship.


Now, I find myself again at a crossroads. I must decide to go dark and twisty, or be happy with one of my topics from the pre-proposal. While none of the four are easy and bright per say, they do lack the “pulling at my heartstrings, will cause emotional distress while writing about it, but will probably lead to some enlightening moment for me” vibe. In addition, they veer away from focusing on personal reflections and experiences, and are rooted instead in research of the topic. Although I do think that my best writing comes from using personal experiences to portray some greater truth, a large part of me is nervous to make my Capstone so…me-centric.


But perhaps personal stories and reflections of dark experiences is the focus that I need for a writing piece to make my soul sing. Perhaps that is my “creative DNA.”


I do have a very unformed possible topic if I do cave and go along with my maybe creative DNA, but I am wondering, has anyone else felt the same inner conflict between what you think you want and what you know you want? Specifically, has anyone felt nervous about being too personal, or too dark?

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