Probably Too Much Personal Information Online: A Year of Blogging

By: Jacob Millay

Believe it or not, science majors are not the only ones who are out in the world experimenting. In fact, I, even as an English major, attempt to complete an experiment at least once a year. One year, I decided to not cut my hair and document it with a picture every day. One month I was vegetarian just to try it out. I went without shampoo for a month just to see if anyone would notice. Sometimes the experiments are massive failures, but I (almost) always learn something through the process. And isn’t that the ultimate goal in an experiment? Not to succeed, but to learn something?

My most recent foray into experimentation, ironically enough, was about blogging. Most writers have almost identical advice for young and beginning writers. They say to write as often as possible. Every day, if you can. Through this mass of writing you will be able to find your own unique voice, streamline the writing process, and learn more about yourself. All of that sounded pretty good to me, so I figured that I would set out on a grand journey to write a blog post every day for a year. If all the good authors recommend something, it has to be good, right? They couldn’t possibly all be wrong, right?


I knew that writing this much wasn’t going to be easy. During the school year I am already writing often for class, so it was going to be a struggle to find the time and the inspiration to write. Often I would lose some sleep in order to stay up to write my daily post. I would grind out at least three hundred words, my tentative goal for each post, and then immediately fall asleep. After a few months, this simply became part of my day. It was an easy routine to fall in to. The real jelly on the toast was that I knew that no one was reading my posts, so I had no expectations to live up to. The world was wide open and beautiful. If I wanted to write a post about how sponges are disgusting and no one should use them to clean anything, I could. And I did. If I wanted to write a blog post without using the space bar, I could. And I did. If I wanted to complain theme parks, I could. And I did.

Jacob 2 blog

Excerpts from Jacob’s experimental blog

Jacob blog 2

When all assumptions about what I could or couldn’t say were taken away, I thought that I might be drowned in the possibility of all the options. I could write about ANYTHING. But most of the time that means we write about nothing since we now lack the comfort of an assignment sheet to follow. Instead, I would simply sit down and let my mind wander. Some days it would stumble upon a legitimately interesting idea that could be expanded further. Other days, I would mumble to myself about how I hated ginger ale. But the drive of writing daily pushed me further than any other writing assignment ever could.

And it did help me develop a style. Previously, I could clearly see that I was emulating other writers in my own work. It was clear to me that I was trying to be Ray Bradbury or Stephen King or that one cool, trendy blogger on Tumblr who I read once. When you write every day, it is way too much work to emulate someone. You eventually develop this one strange voice that slowly gets stronger and stronger. As I forced myself to write, I was able concentrate my thoughts and see myself on that screen as I wrote. It was a little trail that allowed someone to wander inside my head, if only for a brief moment.

Looking back on it, writing a blog post everyday was pretty exhausting. There were a lot of days where I sat down and felt like I had nothing to say. Nothing was exciting in my life. I had no brash political statements to make. No insight into higher learning. No musical suggestions for my nonexistent readers. Those days were hard. And, frankly, I missed a lot of days because I was tired, busy, or just lazy. So I didn’t reach my goal. Not even close. It was a pretty horrid attempt honestly. I was a football coach sending out their kicker to try to make a seventy-five yard field goal. Against the wind. It was always going to come up short.

That does not mean, however, that I regret doing it. I learned a lot about myself. I certainly would not be writing these blog posts if I didn’t push myself out of my comfort zone originally. And while everyone always talks about how great it is to stretch yourself, they forget that the actual stretching is sometimes pretty painful. But is it worth it? I certainly think so. And the only way you will know is to try it yourself. So go for it. Or don’t. It’s up to you.


Jacob Millay (’16)  is an English Education major at Whitworth University. He is a master of consuming, whether that is the newest David Fincher film, the newest Death Cab for Cutie album, or his mother’s spaghetti. He wishes he had any plans for after graduation or for next weekend, but, alas, he has none.


Unimaginable Linguistics

By: Devon Clements

The night sky on a clear cool evening, that’s all it takes. Finding yourself alone beneath the swirling inky blackness, but not alone as we perceive it in an empty room or a quiet street, where the immensity of the human machine still bustles on the edge of your perception. The type of alone that reveals itself rarely and only in moments of pure existential thought. That is un-nameable and nears indescribable yet that we all recognize. As your eyes peer above into an unfathomable distance greeted only by the cosmos, the weight of your existence begins to hang heavy upon you. Your individual hopes and dreams, your memories and relationships simultaneously become completely insignificant and of the upmost importance. You are at once completely alone in the universe, yet somehow not lonely. The daily struggles of life fade away as the immensity of the heavens above sedate you with its beauty.

I find my humanity in the sky. I can stand on a plot of earth and witness the celestial magnificence above and be connected to every individual who has come before me. This overwhelming combination of emotion and complex thought highlight one of the great hindrances of humanity: the boundaries of language.

Artist and editor John Koenig has spent years studying etymology in order to produce words for these universal emotions which were previously unnamed. Below is a brief list of some of his words which are already being accepted into the lexicon of today’s vocabulary. I hope you find them as interesting and insightful as I did.

  1. Sonder: The realization that each passerby has a life as vivid and complex as your own.
  2. Opia: The ambiguous intensity of looking someone in the eye, which can feel simultaneously invasive and vulnerable.
  3. Monachopsis: The subtle but persistent feeling of being out of place.
  4. Énouement: The bittersweetness of having arrived in the future, seeing how things turn out, but not being able to tell your past self.
  5. Vellichor: The strange wistfulness of used bookshops – filled with thousands of old books you’ll never have time to read, each of which is itself locked in its own era, bound and dated and papered over like an old room the author abandoned years ago, a hidden annex littered with thoughts left just as they were on the day they were captured.
  6. Rubatosis: The unsettling awareness of your own heartbeat.
  7. Kenopsia: The eerie, forlorn atmosphere of a place that is usually bustling with people but is now abandoned and quiet.
  8. Mauerbauertraurigkeit: The inexplicable urge to push people away, even close friends who you really like.
  9. Jouska: A hypothetical conversation that you compulsively play out in your head.
  10. Chrysalism: The amniotic tranquility of being indoors during a thunderstorm. Listening to waves of rain pattering against the roof like an argument upstairs, whose muffled words are unintelligible but whose crackling release of built-up tension you understand perfectly.
  11. Vemödalen: The frustration of photographing something amazing when thousands of identical photos already exist.
  12. Anecdoche: A conversation in which everyone is talking, but nobody is listening.
  13. Ellipsism: A sadness that you’ll never be able to know how history will turn out.
  14. Kuebiko: A state of exhaustion inspired by acts of senseless violence.
  15. Lachesism: The desire to be struck by disaster – to survive a plane crash, or to lose everything in a fire.
  16. Exulansis: The tendency to give up trying to talk about an experience because people are unable to relate to it – whether through envy or pity or simple foreignness, which allows it to drift away from the rest of your life story, until the memory itself feels out of place, almost mythical, wandering restlessly in the fog, no longer even looking for a place to land.
  17. Adronitis: Frustration with how long it takes to get to know someone.
  18. Rückkehrunruhe: The feeling of returning home after an immersive trip only to find it fading rapidly from your awareness.
  19. Nodus Tollens: The realization that the plot of your life doesn’t make sense to you anymore.
  20. Onism: The frustration of being stuck in just one body, which inhabits only one place at a time.
  21. Liberosis: The desire to care less about things. To loosen your grip on your life, to stop glancing behind you every few steps, afraid that someone will snatch it from you before you reach the end zone – rather to hold your life loosely and playfully, like a volleyball, keeping it in the air, with only quick fleeting interventions, bouncing freely in the hands of trusted friends, always in play.
  22. Altschmerz: Weariness with the same old issues that you’ve always had – the same boring flaws and anxieties that you’ve been gnawing on for years.
  23. Occhiolism: The awareness of the smallness of your perspective.
  24. Heartworm: A relationship or friendship that you can’t get out of your head, which you thought had faded long ago but is still somehow alive and unfinished, like an abandoned campsite whose smoldering embers still have the power to start a forest fire.
  25. Anemoia: Nostalgia for a time you’ve never known. Imagine stepping through the frame into a sepia-tinted haze, where you could sit on the side of the road and watch the locals passing by. Who lived and died before any of us arrived here, who sleep in some of the same houses we do, who look up at the same moon, who breathe the same air, feel the same blood in their veins – and live in a completely different world.


All words and definitions created and copyrighted by John Koenig

Visit to learn more

Devon Clements. Class of 2018. English Philosophy major. Missouri. Soccer. Coffee. Historical Fiction. Edward Sharpe. Of Human Bondage. Travel. Moleskine. Pens. Vans. United Kingdom. Trees. Gym. Literature. Sour. Northwest. Theatre. Explore. Skateboard. Run. Cats. Blue. Finished.


With Notebooks in Hand, Up the Mountain We Go!

Whitworth English Department Mt. Baker May Trip with John Pell

By: Emily Church

I never thought that through following my passion for writing and English, I would find myself on the side of a mountain. I’m sure that’s what many of us thought, and yet, that’s where we were. Three incredible days spent on Mt. Baker.



Preparation Week

During the first week of class, while reading and analyzing the different writing styles of adventure stories like Wild by Cheryl Strayed, Nanda Devi :The Tragic Expedition, and  Points Unknown: The Greatest Adventure Writing of the Twentieth Century,  we were also being prepped for our trip up Mt. Baker. In order to learn to write about adventure, once must take an adventure themselves. In partnership with the U-Rec team and experienced mountaineer Brad Pointer, the class learned what it meant to wear a harness, how to tie a figure eight on a bight, a prusik, and a girth hitch knot with various types of rope, what to do with the string of carabiners on your tool belt, how to walk on a rope team, and how to use an ice axe to protect yourself from falling down the mountain. During one of our exercises on the rock wall, we were made to dangle, as if we had just fallen into a crevasse, and had to tie knots and move carabiners which allowed us to climb up the rope. It was a terrifyingly fun experience.To practice maneuvering around on rope teams, we took to the loop. I’m sure we looked pretty goofy walking around the loop of campus tied to rope teams and carrying ice axes and large backpacks.


The day before our early morning departure, the gear and supplies were loaded into backpacks that we were going to have to carry from the parking lot to base camp, an altitude gain of around 3,000 ft. The backpacks were well stuffed with tent gear, ice axes, helmets, cooking fuel, sleeping bags, extra clothes, food, and toiletries. Those on the U-Rec team who had done some backpacking cautioned us to pack as light as possible, for ounces equaled pain.

Day One

The students of El 396 Adventure and Travel Writing, the U-Rec volunteers, and John Pell arrived at Whitworth to depart at 5:30am. After a seven hour van ride across the state, our glacier that we were going to summit lay before us. For almost everyone in the van, that was the moment where the climb became real because that was when we came face to face with our goal. At the trailhead, once the van was unpacked and our fifty pound backpacks were loaded onto our shoulders, Brad gathered the group to pray before the long hike up to basecamp. For endless miles together we crossed waterfalls, dirt trails, and a brief encounter with snow before reaching our basecamp.


Basecamp was an island of rocks in the middle of the mountain. The summit was only a mere 4,000 ft. away. That night the group ate our freeze dried mountaineering food by light of the sunset, astounded by the view of our classroom for the next two days.


Base Camp

Day Two

Day two was a day of taking it easy with a little bit of snow training. It was time to put what we learned in the context of the U-Rec to real use. While we didn’t go jumping into crevasses, we still got to practice catching ourselves in the snow with our ice axes and simulated group rescues in our ropes teams. That evening by the heat of the cooking stoves, we sat together eating dinner and telling funny stories. Danny started us off by asking “Does anyone have any embarrassing poop stories?” Of course the group had many to contribute. Poop was a common topic on the trip because whatever you brought up to the mountain had to come back down with you, which meant that we were going to have to carry our wonderful blue bags down with us. One of the joys of mountaineering for sure. We built community in our new classroom as we bonded over blue bags, awesome blisters from the hike up, aching muscles, fears surrounding the summit climb, and the beautiful views.



Sun set from base camp

 Day Three

A 2am wakeup call brought the class out into the starry morning air to begin the climb towards the Coleman-Demming Glacier summit. Hooked into our three rope teams, we ascended up the mountain. We coached each other through fear and doubts as we hopped over crevasses and looked down into the depth of the mountain. Pell kept us going with words of encouragement and his general humor. When they had talked about crevasses and had pointed to some on the side of the mountain in the distance from us, I thought that we would be steering clear of them. It was much to my surprise when I found myself staring down into the depth of a crevasse that was right in front of me. I froze, which meant that my rope team was forced to stop because I was the leader. I knew we were going to have to jump over, but I wasn’t sure if I could make it. Then I heard John’s voice from the other side, “Its ok Emily. You just got to give a little hop.”



The group taking a moment to rest

The views were breathtaking. Looking back we saw the vastness of Mt. Baker stretched below us.


Our great leaders, John Pell and Brad Pointer

In the end, three members of the class made it to the summit, located at about 10,700 ft., but everyone succeeded in reaching a new limit of their own. The trip demonstrated to us the amazing places that writing could take us and the value in sharing a story like that. I don’t think any of us will forget that trip any time soon.



Emily Church (’17) is an English Writing and Sociology major at Whitworth University from western Washington and dreams of one day traveling the world. She enjoys writing, reading, painting, collecting journals (not writing in them), fall leaves, summer warmth., and adventure.

Applying for a job, internship or grad school? Learn what makes your resume, cover letter or curriculum vita effective!

Let the Whitworth Composition Commons help you out!

WCC Post

Join the Whitworth Composition Commons on November 5 from 6-8 in Weyerhaeuser 111 to get information, tips and feedback on your resumes, cover letters, or curriculum vitae

 There will be snacks and a guest speaker to talk about what separates good resumes from the rest. Most importantly, the event is FREE!