on writing, Personal Journey

Writer Mind

I’m in the valley every writer goes through. I keep showing up day after day intending to make something amazing. If I were an artist, I’d be making stick people. If I were making dinner, it would be haggis. If I were conjuring up an animal, it would be a platypus. Sure, I just got petted last Friday. Won a contest. Got to judge. But without a steady stream of word-gold, I become convinced the well is dry.  I’ll ever write anything good ever again.

I worry the story I’ve been working on, bleeding onto the page for eternity squared, is a total waste of time. I worry I’m selfish. I AM selfish. I ask myself, what have you done for others? Surely not this writing gig. So I try to list out the selfless …act I’ve committed recently. It’s a short list.

So I’m writing and writing and every so often is the thought: Why don’t you do something eternal like laundry or weeding or deep cleaning? The grime is holding my home together, I tell myself. The weeds have feelings too. Things get dirty again. I wax certain I’m an undiscovered C.S. Lewis (the moment I won a little contest) and certain I’m a grub (most other times, beginning a few minutes after I won the contest).

To really keep things interesting, I sabotage myself by revealing my political leanings to people who would’ve liked me well enough had I just kept my mouth shut. If I had multiple personalities, they’d be Ann Coulter, Ann Lamott, and little orphan Annie. I’m the most liberal conservative in our family, the most confident insecure person I know. The nicest mean person you’ll ever meet. I don’t know why I feel the need to cough up my worldview every now and again. I hope it’s an involuntary trait of a writer. Like how the kidneys clean out your blood without you telling them to. My soul churns this stuff out against the advice of a meek little voice: are you sure you want to post that? I plunge ahead.

Today I read a lovely, worthwhile blogger writing from the mountaintop I can see from my valley, where he talks about writing “whatever the hell he wanted” for five years and he has no regrets and over a hundred thousand followers. He “likes” many posts, including mine. I emailed him to ask, does he really read the posts he likes? Because if so, does he sleep? Is he human? He has not answered my email. Oddly enough, I also have been blogging for five years.

This is what I say when I’m a  grub: He didn’t even read your post. Some days a rational being who’s just finished running a few miles and done vitality yoga– that person will tell me I’ve got something important to say, that to give up is the only failure. And, some really weird people like haggis. Days like today must be climbed over or crawled under or blasted through. On the horizon are days where I’ll come away thinking I’ve made something worthy– and had a great time doing it.



4 thoughts on “Writer Mind”

  1. Keep reaching for that horizon, one day you’ll have to look back to see the mountain that’s in front of you today. Will everyone like what you say? Probably not. I think most of my friends have muted me on Facebook because of some questions I asked long ago. But, others do listen. Keep writing whatever the hell you want, but keep your ears open, too. 🙂

  2. I totally relate to what you feel – been there many times over. But, what I have come to believe is that writing can be a ministry. You never know who will read your words or how your words will change someone. The only thing that is eternal is people. Words have the power to change people. I for one don’t think you are selfish. Your words have changed me. I believe in you. Writers write. You are a writer and I pray you never stop writing. It would be a disservice to mankind. But I do get the tension between love and hate of the art and I thought you identified it well in this piece. I just wanted to be extra sure you knew I was rooting for you to keep pushing through the muck! 🙂

    1. Awwww, Nancy. My friend! This just may be the nicest thing you’ve ever said to me, and you’ve said scores of nice things. Thank you for believing in me. I know you know the moment I was grabbing for in this piece. That moment when you can’t write your story… you write about your frustration! Aha! I almost linked to Pressfield in this post too. I ended up cutting it because I felt I was all over the place with the post (which is an accurate reflection of my mind). Anyway, I wish good things for you on your travels! Looking forward to sharing it with you via your blog. 🙂

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