best of 'o9: julie&julia

Earlier this summer, Russ and I took some friends and went to watch Julie & Julia. It was mostly for him: he's the chef in the family, and he went to Le Cordon Blue - just like Julia. However, as I watched the movie, I realized just how much I connected with Julie. Far too much, actually. This deserves a repost because it's what put the burr in my saddle to begin writing again. If it weren't for this movie - I never would have given myself a challenge. And my manuscript may still be sitting at 1,014 words instead of almost 60,000. Russ & I went & saw Julie & Julia yesterday afternoon.

What struck me the most was Julie’s perception of herself as a “writer”.  Having finished half a novel – with no prospects of being published – she hangs her hat & forgets that part of who she is as a person. She shuts it off. I empathize with her mentality more than I care to admit.

More often than not, I find myself shutting off my “writer’s muse” because of fear or insecurity or just…laziness. Friends who find out I have a blog or that I have been published look at me quizzically & ask, “You write?” My answer is usually a sheepish nod & something along the lines of, “well, yeah…sort of.”

A couple years ago I was involved in a three week writing institute. Every day, for two hours, we got to write. About anything. It was absolutely glorious. One morning, I walked through the dusty hallways of the old school, found a not-too comfortable position on the wooden floor, stuck in my earphones & let everything out on the empty pages of my journal. That day, I wrote about who I was – how I viewed myself. The first words on the page:

I am a writer.

As I was writing, I wasn’t considering reading it out loud or sharing it with others, it was more of a manifesto of sorts. Something I could have as a memento; something my heart desperately wanted me to never forget. At the time, writing was just something I did. It was a part of me.

Somewhere, I let that go.

There’s a scene in the movie where Julie has just been interviewed by the New York Times. The next day, she’s walking around the city & she sees all of these people reading the column – her column with her face on the front page of the paper. I guess you can say it’s the moment where she has reached her goal – at least – the goal of finding herself. She isn’t lost anymore. She’s found her purpose.

It was during these five minutes of endless messages from publishers & journalists & what-have-you that she turned to her husband and said, “I’m a writer!” He replied with the belief only a husband could offer  - “you already were a writer.”

And oh, the tears flew down my face. (Good thing the theatre is always dark because I would have been quite embarrassed)

You know the feeling I’m getting at here. It’s when you are watching a movie or reading a book or talking to someone else & something happens or something is said & BOOM! electricity fires through you. Your heart demands you to pay attention to what is going on around you because…it’s important. It means something. It’s the moment you feel alive.

Like most people, writing – the thing I most enjoy – is the first thing to be sacrificed in my schedule.  I’m too tired, too busy, too wrapped up in everything else around me I can’t even stop & take a breath because it would mean feeling the nagging sensation of an empty muse.

I’m so tired of that feeling. And, the more I force myself to write – the more I give myself a strict regimen – like Julie did for herself, the more I remember the addicting sound of fingers slapping the keyboard & my mind going a mile a minute just to keep up with my hands. And I can’t help but wonder…what if?

What if I grabbed hold of my dreams? What if I threw out all of those nasty fears & insecurities & actually started writing. Really writing…allowing my words to take shape into whatever my inner Virginia Woolf has concocted – what would happen?

So, consider this a tipped hat to writer’s block & bruised egos. I am a bit done with waiting for movies to inspire me into acting out my passion. I’ve decided to set a goal for myself  & quit wishing I had the cojones to pursue writing & actually (wo)man up & do something about it.  At first, I thought three published pieces within one year would be sufficient – but that seems kind of easy. I want a challenge. I want to force my writer’s heart into submission, work its muscles & see how much it can handle. Rejection? Pshh. I’m ready.

I think.

Five published pieces. One year.

I think I may be crazy.

Posted on December 31, 2009 .