The impossibility of writing


I want to take a nap.

Jubal is down for a few hours, and I have some time to myself in a house that gloriously quiet and I want to nap.

And some days, I let myself. I set an alarm and I curl under my blankets and I close my eyes and remind myself what rest feels like.

But today is not one of those days. Today is one for remembering something different.

Remember when you took any quiet moment as a chance to write?
Remember when you didn’t have a list of things you needed to clean?
Remember when that didn’t even matter?

It was Stephen King who once told us to not come lightly to the blank page — do you remember that quote? It was everywhere for a few years, when those of us inching our way into the online space found our voices and croaked out words for the first time.

I’ve never forgotten it, but I’m also one for melodrama. I don’t know if I come lightly to anything.

I’ve been trying to get past that. I’ve been trying to figure out what it means to just write and not worry about the sharing. I’ve been separating marketing and ROI from my words. No expectations. Just….writing.

Just me.

A few months ago, someone I respect told me to keep writing. I just love your writing style, she told me. I did the opposite. Mostly because of fear and grief.

Sometimes I still worry that I am all out of words. Like, even though I have all of these things I want to say, whatever I am dealing with is so overwhelming and I have this expectation hanging over me to “not come lightly to the blank page” and it feels like I can’t articulate these emotions swirling inside.

Like sometimes, you’ll really love your job and then suddenly you’ll hate it and then just as suddenly, you’ll love it again.
Or sometimes, you’ll begin to understand the inherent lack of respect we put up with as women.
Or sometimes, you’ll be so very done with people asking you to calm down.

Even though I coach that losing your words is impossible and sometimes you just need to take a breath, give yourself some space, let the words flow. Even though I know, intrinsically, that my words will show up when they’re ready.

When you have a thing that came so easy for you in the past, it makes sense that you begin to question that same thing when it’s not so easy anymore.

Some people are surprised when I say this — when I admit that writing can be hard and feel futile.

I don’t know. These are my confessions? I saw a friend at a book signing a few weeks ago and nearly packed everything up and quit because at one point, I coached her. And now she’s a bestselling author and I’m attached to a headset all day long and I don’t even know how many books I’ve even sold this year and the last time I published a book I wasn’t a mother so you can do the math.

Right now, writing feels impossible. And that’s okay. Because ultimately, it is impossible. We just get to experience the alchemy of pulling together impossible sentences and paragraphs and stories.

Maybe you wait for the words or maybe you pry them out of your bones whether they’re ready or not. However you do it, excavation never feels pretty.

Posted on October 1, 2018 and filed under Building Your Craft.