Tuesday, April 23, 2013
A Writers Journal - Facing The Wall
I feel so far away from writing at this moment. And as a result, I feel... discouraged, sad, pointless. Drifting. In a daze. And I don't know what to do about it. But, it's time to start somewhere.
A Writers Journal: This new addition to Diggin' Around, which has been in the works since this Winter, is to help me chronicle my journey with writing, which I hope in turn helps some of you who may be struggling as well, like me.
I have written since I was a little girl, inspired by Louisa May Alcott's Jo March on a sunny Spring Sunday when I was about 11 years old. I have wanted nothing more since then but to be a published author of novels. I am a writer. It is what I know I am, and what I am supposed to do. So why, a month shy of my 38th birthday am I no farther along than I was when I was that little girl?
The normal distractions come to mind: Life in general can be less conducive to creativity for some more so than others. Working full time and going to college full time. Trying to make ends meet. Being in relationships that weren't conducive to creativity (to say the least), relationships which destroyed creative trust and those betrayals leading to my own mistrust of pen on paper.
As the years passed, my health steadily became the ultimate distraction, causing incapacity and inability to focus, which continues to this day. Since the illness that nearly took my life and my left kidney in 2010, instead of journaling through personal crisis, something I had always done to help me through, I have found myself literally unable to put pen to paper on any topic, feeling utterly frozen and stunned. It happened again with Hurricane Irene in 2011, when we lost my beloved Father-in-law this past June, with Hurricane Sandy this past October and most recently this year as I talked about here. I'm now pushing myself, forcing myself to journal, and on Saturday afternoon, I made a new promise to myself (pictured above):
"I will no longer let personal crisis de-rail my writing."
Here's an issue which no longer has the power it used to, but it's worth mentioning since I'm talking about my writing struggles/blocks in general: My mother has never supported my writing. It has always made her uncomfortable. Clearly uncomfortable. To paraphrase something she said to me many, many years ago, she's 'from a generation where you don't put things in writing,' whatever that means. I'm sure she assumes I write awful things about her given our long complicated, many strings attached relationship. (Several years ago she was convinced I spent my shrink sessions 'blaming her for everything' when I was in reality there to get help for the enormous stresses of dealing with my illnesses (finally diagnosed but "incurable" calls for anything but the happy dance), my workers comp court hearings and my disability appeals).
Mom bristles when I mention my gardening column for Connect*Share*Grow (formerly known as Adventures In Gardening, now known as The Portable Homestead). I realized about 5 years ago that one of my big writing blocks was a fear of what Mom would think of my writing. Author Jennifer Chiaverini offered me gentle, supportive, good advice when about the same time I asked her the background concerning a mother-daughter relationship in The Elm Creek Quilts series via the forum on her site. Essentially, her advice boiled down to this: Write anyway. (Or was it Barbara Abercrombie? I think I may have chatted with both of them actually).
It's still disappointing when Mom doesn't even try to mask her irritation with my writing. It would be nice if she feigned enthusiasm at least once. So I don't often discuss my writing with her. I write for me, not for her, so I've slowly made a peace of sorts with her attitude about it. Well, more of an acceptance of it than a peace with it is more accurate. Like my health, it is what it is, it's not going to change so why waste time on being upset over something you have no control over?
I know, easier said than done at times. But, I move on regardless.
Do you know what literally stopped me in my tracks when I read it last Monday?
"He had writing the way other people had religion." (About Ernest Hemingway, from The Paris Wife by Paula McLain).
Since I started gardening over a decade ago, my garden has been my Church, my place where I find and feel a connection to something bigger than myself and my humble garden.
I want to find that in my writing now as well.
But, it is said that writing is not only an act of courage, but an act of faith as well, both of which I lack when it comes to myself. That lack of self-confidence has plagued so many aspects of my life, from the time I was young to present day, but especially this one, my writing.
I have been saying, for more years than I care to admit, "I have to write my way to a better life." It's no longer just me. I have a husband. He supports me. He supports my writing. (He may not understand it but he supports it). So I've now amended it to: "I have to write our way to a better life." Again, easier said than done! But, instead of putting one foot in front of the other, I have to put one letter in front of the other. And write anyway.
*Update: I wrote about my journey of exploration with my gardening memoir column, now known as The Portable Homestead, here.