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Oh Right, I Write

I haven’t been talking about writing lately because I have had nothing to say but a lot of angst. The stories I have spent the last few years working on were denied from the 5 or 6 places I submitted them to in the spring. This isn’t that noteworthy, being rejected from publication is not something that rattles me beyond repair, it’s just something that happens. But! It takes take time to research where to submit, send it off, wait wait wait wait wait, then get an email saying no thank you.

Yesterday I tweeted about Lena Dunham and her awesomeness in comparison to me… well, her awesomeness in comparison to anyone because she is 26, has a show on HBO, and a multi-million dollar book deal. So yeah, she is kicking some serious ass. I am 27, I had to put a major creative project on hold because of baby-making (and THAT rattles me way more than being denied from print), and have felt lately that I have no stories left inside me.

That feeling of vacancy is scary. On one hand I tell myself that the stories will come and sometimes “we (being other artist-types hosh posh hosh posh) go through times of living life and then other times of recording life. Sometimes the well is dry, and sometimes it is overflowing,” and on the other hand I tell myself that I’m not working hard enough and a dry well is just a symptom of laziness because it wouldn’t be so dry if I would just get off my ass and dig a little deeper. (The metaphor comes fullll circle.)

In school I always explained my writing angle as, “Writing about normal people and making them just a little bit of, just a little twisted, a little different. Making normal interesting.” I was so confident. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was one of the best in the room at what I could do, and that this one thing – this story-telling and creating thing – was something I was really good at. It probably was because I was around other writers, instead of being in a vacuum with just me and my own crazy, but somewhere I lost that confidence. I forgot what I was good at and instead of focusing on writing the kind of stories that I loved to write, I have been trying to think of stories that I assume people want to read. I told Margaret yesterday that I have been focusing on writing a plot instead of telling a story. And I think that is a major problem.

Then yesterday while I was willing myself to get out of bed and take a shower I got a rush from the well. That old, forgotten well, the dusty cob-webbed well that is covered in weeds, the well I thought was filled with those big round bush looking things that blow down the road in old west movies. But I guess it was just sitting there this whole time, waiting for me to think about it again.

I haven’t started writing anything yet. Yesterday I Worked 9 hours, then the trains broke down and I didn’t get home until after dark. But at least I don’t feel empty anymore. And I know that I will write, because all I wanted to do yesterday was stay home and write. It was a feeling I haven’t had in a while, but sometimes the business of life does take over for a bit, and sometimes I need to cut myself some freaking slack.

12 Comments

  1. I think you already said this, with the dry-well metaphor… but maybe you are in an “absorbing life” phase, that will just later turn into stories?
    In any case I am glad that you have that feeling back :) I want to read your stories…

    • Me too! I can’t wait to read your stories, and yay for breaking through to that well.

  2. The round bush things are called “tumbleweeds.” FYI.

  3. I’ve been a little dry lately also, and trying to plow through, so this comes at a particularly apt time for me! I’m always trying to navigate that line between living life and recording life, and it certainly isn’t easy, but it sounds like you’re doing a good job. Also – I realize it’s probably very personal, so of course I don’t mean to pressure you, but I’d be very interested to hear more about your thoughts of putting aside this creative project to focus on your family.

    • Ahahah. Love it.

  4. I’m not a big proponent of “writer’s block” (my thoughts–you can always write SOMETHING, even if it’s crap), but I definitely do think this “ebb and flow” thing is all too accurate. There are just some months where it’s a CHORE to write–if the writing happens at all. And other months, it comes all too easily. Funny how these “ebb” months often coincide with big “real life” events…it can be so hard to carve out writing time. It often feels like you need to prioritize friends/family or writing.

    I keep contemplating doing NaNoWriMo this year, but can’t decide if I want to commit to it. On the one hand: emotional highs and lows! HUGE sense of accomplishment. On the other hand: am I ok with not contributing to the running of our household for a month? Not seeing friends? Because, for me at least, that’s what it comes down to.

    Also (OMG MONSTER COMMENT)–kudos on you for submitting.

  5. Yes Yes YES, I am exactly here! (Minus the babymaking.) I haven’t *really* written fiction since I quit my MFA program 3 years ago. I got into nonfiction/personal essays this year, and thought “Hm, I guess that’s what I write now, despite being raised on and only knowing fiction-writing.” As soon as I admitted that to myself, I got two ideas for fiction stories in major head-spinning whooshes, and I’m SO excited. Due to work deadlines I haven’t gotten started yet, either, but thankfully the ideas are too strong to back off. Best of luck in your writing!

  6. I went through the a similar thing with drawing, especially in the first part of pregnancy! “Oh god… this is it. My artistic well is dry, I’ll have to get a new career, I have LOST MYSELF sobsobsob…”

    Then yeah, it comes back after a while.

    For what it’s worth, we all love reading the posts you compose in the meantime, even if other wells/parts of the well (?)(hm, metaphors…) have felt dormant. :D

  7. I think this is a natural part of writing – my friend has always called it the “input/output cycle.” You can’t always be outputting without taking in any experiences that will give you something to actually write about. Sometimes you just need to input for a while, reading books, seeing plays, running through Netflix Instant, and that’s usually when you’ll start to get the little sputters of output again.

    Someone above also said that you can work on something else, and that helps me a lot – if I can’t wrench any words out of myself for a longer work, I try to write funny tweets, or list submissions, or comedy sketches. Switching to a different form reassures me that I still CAN write, and it gives me a little burst of confidence to finish something short.

    I think it’s amazing that you’re getting anything done considering how poorly you’ve been feeling – your blogs about pregnancy have been so well-written, please don’t think you’re not getting any good writing done!

  8. Yes! I know this feeling. I had to put creative writing aside for a few years to make room for academic writing, So take this with a grain of salt: reading is the best way for me to “fill the well.”

  9. i know lena dunham! my bestie went to college with her. it still boggles the mind that she’s actually famous now.

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Who the hell is she?


Lauren

I am a writer living in Seattle and I believe that life is a grand adventure and only boring if you believe it to be. Plus! You don't need money to have fun.

I live with my husband, a photographer by education and a maker-of-video-games by trade, and a baby named gabe in an apartment on the hill.

I am romantic about most things and I cry... about almost anything. I tell stories to entertain you, I spread stories to keep you in the loop. I am not a grammar freak, but I do know how to spell it. I am exceedingly proud of my scrambled eggs and I really could eat an entire pan of cupcakes. If I met me, I would be my best friend. I tend to be irreverent.

If you would like to chat with me or see what else I'm up to you can follow me on Twitter (betterinrealife), on facebook, or email me at betterinrealife at gmail.


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