Writing can be a dark, dark place. At least for me lately it has been.
I know the word writing is technically a verb but for those of us that call ourselves writers, it is so much more. It is a noun - a place where we go to do our work or where we avoid going because we have nothing to say. It is an action word, something I am engaged in right now. It can be a measure of mood - a canary in the coal mines of sorts.
Two school starts ago, I sat down to finish the novel I had started in bits and pieces while my youngest was in kindergarten. That August, with all three boys finally in full day school, I was going to write the story I had been dreaming about for over a year. I was committed to sitting at my desk each day and writing. And it felt great!
And the feeling of finishing a whole novel was amazing. Mostly because, it wasn't easy. Not only putting the words on the page but actually sitting myself down at my desk on those days when that was the last place I wanted to be. But I did it. I was disciplined. I followed through and I accomplished my goal.
Last fall when school started, I had plans to write again. My husband and I had torn down old wallpaper in my new office. We designed and painted and had contractors in to make the office exactly what I envisioned when I saw the space in our new home in Wisconsin. I had the space. I had the time with my kids off to school again. But suddenly writing was a dark place for me. A place where I was a failure. Where I had nothing worth saying. Where my self-confidence had run away and left me with insecurities. I procrastinated. I watched way too much Gilmore Girls. I felt guilty and I wrote blog posts about how I was procrastinating.
I blamed the move. And I stand by that blame to a point. It is hard to leave your support system. It is hard to keep writing when the people who used to shoo you out of the coffee shop to go home and write aren't here. It is hard to write when your mind is lost at sea, when the waves of depression and failure wash over you to the point that you hold on to the only life jacket you can find, even if it is using television as a mood alterer as I once heard Anne Lamott say.
I lost any sense that this is what I am meant to do. Still as I write this, as I sit down and make a plan to write every day, I feel the darkness rising up in my bright green and white office. How arrogant to think you have something to say. No one will read this. And don't even get me started on what a crap novelist I am.
But then my friends remind me of the joy they saw in me when I would walk into the coffee shop and tell them about a scene I had just written.
And my husband says, "I want to read the next book."
And as we wander the cute shops on our girls weekend, my girlfriend shows me a book - 642 Things to Write About by The San Francisco Writers' Grotto.
And I remember that when I write, I am my most real self. The one that isn't avoiding thinking about things that hurt but pushes into them. The one that writes because it feels good when I am done.
Sitting at the desk each day is hard. According to all the writer tweets I have read, I think this is universally true.
But it makes me…. Me.
I bought that book 642 Things to Write About.
And I am sitting at my desk.