My struggles with writing

I didn’t realize how long I’d been away until I was visiting a favorite blog of mine last week, and saw on the author’s blog roll: Only You — last updated: 4 months ago.

I’ve been struggling with my writing all year. Topics became harder and harder to come up with, and I worried that I was writing without feeling. I would look at some of my posts and grimace at the writing quality. I was going downhill, I thought, and in my mind I decided it would be better to pause than to keep churning out bad material.

Motherhood, marriage, identity and all these other issues I had loved thinking and writing about were still important to me, and yet I found myself coming up dry. Have I moved on, I wondered? When I started this blog almost two years ago, I did so with an inexplicable urge. Life was probably no less busy then than it is now, but I had enough drive to make writing (and blogging) a priority. For the first time in my life I had the courage to let my voice out and so I did week after week, publicly – intimately – writing about things I had not even told my family or close friends. My voice was a volcanic eruption. Then gradually this spring that drive lost its urgency. I felt at peace, even when I was  not writing. Had I healed? Had I gotten so much out of my system that I no longer needed to talk? Words became less of a focus for me this year. For some reason I can’t explain, I even stopped reading this summer. Life was busy – I was a “single” mom for a while with Max in Japan and Fred’s martial arts activities intensifying – and I began living life rather than only thinking about it. And by this I am not saying that writers don’t live – only that I don’t. I’ve tended to write during periods of my life when I needed to heal, and I’ve written much less during times when I felt good.

And then recently I heard from a friend, “I miss your blog.” I read Alexandra’s poignant post about bloggers who disappear (and she’d mentioned my blog). The lovely Jessica at Mommyhood: Next Right even e-mailed me to say she’d missed my writing. I was honestly shocked. I had not realized that it might make a difference to someone to read what I have to say. It feels embarrassing to be this self-depracating at my age, but as someone who still has a hard time calling herself a writer without quotation marks, I’d say that my self-esteem as a writer is probably right at the high school level. But why not, right? There are so many writers – both professional and amateur – whose voices I would desperately miss if they were to stop. Whether it’s because they share experiences that make me feel less alone or stories that take me somewhere I could never experience, I am so grateful to be touched by them. And like finding a good hairdresser, I make sure I hold on to those writers that really make an impact on me. I don’t mean to be presumptious enough to say that I play that big of a role in a reader’s life, but I need to remind myself that part of the reason I like to write or blog is to make an impact; I am not only doing it for self-healing.

So I’m trying to ease back again. I will likely continue to struggle with time – time to write, time to read and comment on blogs, and I doubt that my writer’s block has completely lifted. But I miss the sharing and the interacting, and I miss the process of reflecting on an experience. Hopefully this time I will find a new voice – a voice that stays present even in the absence of healing, a voice that reflects the growth I’ve accomplished in the last couple of years. I hope that you can still be there for me.

13 thoughts on “My struggles with writing

  1. Well, I’ve said it before: any friend of the Empress’s is a friend of mine. It’s actually more of a “she never steers me wrong” thing, but now I’ve found you and I have no expectations, so if you’re blocked and harshly criticizing your work, think of me, who doesn’t know what you’re “supposed” to write like. Hell, that wasn’t grammatical.

  2. I miss you too, Cecilia and would love to hear from you again. But I also think that it’s really important that you only write when you have something to say. So don’t feel badly; feel proud. As you yourself said – when you need to write again, you will. And when you do so, I’d love to be your hairdresser friend….

    Delia LLoyd

    • So good to hear from you, Delia! I really appreciate your message. I was able to get re-inspired by staying in touch with you and your blog.

  3. I’m so glad you’re not gone! I’ve been thinking about you, hoping all was well with you and your family. But things get in the way, life gets a little hectic and the words feel less necessary. I get it.

  4. So good to have you back my friend. I have felt the same struggle with my writing for awhile now. I think my drive eroded when things became difficult in my relationship and I wasn’t even aware, blissfully writing away as if everything was fine when it wasn’t. Looking back, the writing felt like a lie. When I don’t feel authentic in my writing, I don’t feel like I am contributing.

    Things are good now with the family and I’m slowly trying to ease back in myself with more reflective pieces, rather than the ones that report on the periphery of parenthood. But with two kids the challenge now is time as they now take turns needing us so the day is a prolonged succession of tending to the same needs by different little people. 🙂

    I’ve learned that being gentle with myself, which means forgiving myself when I don’t have the time to write and not forcing a schedule, has helped tremendously. No pressure writing makes it more enjoyable for me but I still hope to be able to go back to writing the way I did last year, quality-wise. I feel like I’ve lost something along the way and sorely miss the voice and authenticity I possessed before “all of this”.

    But first things first. I’m just grateful to be able to continue to write. And so I do. And I’m especially glad to have you back on this journey with me.

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