writing and being

Standard

My writer’s block-busting exercise becomes a block in itself when I want to write standard “hey this is what’s in my head” entries. So here goes with one of those, long overdue.

For the past few weeks, no small amount of my spare brain-cycles have been spent focusing on the question of what I do next with my life, career-wise. After receiving two graduate school application rejections — what a fantastic economic period for this process — I have questioned whether this is the right thing for me to focus on while my writing lies stagnant. Not that I would ever ditch my day job for the promise of a future as a writer; I am far too attached to my current standard of living, and all of my major financial decisions impact not only me, but my partner, and not only now, but our future.

Since I stumbled into library science thirteen years ago, it became a natural outgrowth of my strongest traits, but I never intended for this to be Who I Am. There is some amount of sadness in my heart when I hear myself referred to as a librarian and not a writer. The truth of it is that I spent the past thirteen years focusing on my day job and not my writing.

And now when I want to change all that, to focus on my writing in the bits of spare time I can cobble together, I don’t know how to do it.

I have taken workshops; I share stories and critiques with an amazing writing group; I read books on the craft of writing and the art of getting published.

After a long talk with FunkyPlaid the other night, I realized something overwhelming and horrible: I have lost hope. It isn’t about rejection, either; I have lost the power to visualize myself succeeding as a writer. Because of this, I do not see myself as a writer anymore, so I do not behave in writerly ways. Stories go unfinished; poems go unedited. I wake up with ideas I never bother to write down.

Sometimes I spend hours staring at blank notebooks in stores, pretending that if I found the right notebook, I would see myself as a writer again. I fully realize how ridiculous the prospect is, and I do it anyway.

It is crazy to me that I am entertaining this bout of self-doubt while the rest of my life is soaring above my every expectation. It is crazy to me that I feel this despair while I am surrounded by creativity of every kind, musicians and artists and parents and writers and glass-workers and conspiracy theorists and designers and all of them, every one of them, seeing themselves for what they are.

All I see of myself is what I have not yet done.

I know how this reads to the cynical eye: a plea for sympathy, a fish for compliments. It is a confession, and only I can absolve myself.

4 thoughts on “writing and being

  1. Partnership with my muse, in the name of creative expression, has been a great ride. If I use a roller coaster in analogy of creative action, the weightless butt floating off the seat downhill flying 60 mph high point is doing what your passion directs (write, draw, paint, speak…) That rush is a portion of the ride- the showy persuasive part.

    There are other parts in the experience that don’t get photographed for the brochure given out at AAA. Paying for your ticket- earning the $$ to pay for the ticket, the slow noisy waiting for everyone to buckle up, being scolded for having a coca cola with you, being big enough to ride- I can think of millions of moments that echo part of the creative experience.

    MOST of the time is spent NOT “doing it,” with many different states of mind surrounding that NOT-ness. Like a seed planted in fall, & blooms next summer, the roots have been doing BIG invisible work growing. We focus on the beautiful bloom the they enabled.

    Creative action is FAR from linear! It is more like a coaster climbing slow crazy sky-view, struggling to overcome gravitational pull of the planet.

    Imagine your muse is coaxing you up up up. See frustration NOT writing as part of writing’s roller coaster ride. Know the other side IS there. It WILL reveal itself: fabulous inspirational float-off-the-seat-because-the-ride-is-moving-faster-than-your-butt Big FUN!!

    You’ll have an oh wow moment or two, remembering this current gravitational grief and think, “I’m so glad I don’t feel like that doing NOThing. I WAS really right on track!”

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  2. Robert K

    I relate to this on many levels and appreciate the idea of a confession as a way to attack the block. I look forward to chatting with you in person soon!
    -Robert

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  3. Ned

    I hope the hope returns soon, because I can certainly visualize the first volume of HMB on my bookshelf. Keep doing what you do!

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  4. Darren

    I love that you’ve accounted this here, and it’s clear that you know how important it is to do so.

    In a way, seeing yourself in terms of what you’ve not yet done keeps the fire lit, and the motivation rich and effective. But it’s important to be able to move those vital things over to the “done and done well” category as you move down the line. I get that. The climate changes, and our current one might not be the most conducive to these ends; it must be frustrating to be in this bliss and not be able to trigger the necessary piston of your creativity – the time and the space and the *you* that is a writer. I hope that this part of you stays what it is, no matter the context of where you find yourself. Moreso, I hope you continue to confess. It’s good for your hope.

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