27 August 2014

Summer of Splendid Epiphanies


The last month has been brimming with self-realization for this old broad.

Does this seem like the summer of splendid epiphanies to anyone else?

Raise your hand high, and tell me yours, too.

Really, tell me yours.

So, this is related to a lot of things, but it largely boils down to one -- which is that lately, I've been missing creative writing -- a habit that used to consume all my leisurely time. And the absence of it from my life is like a little, unacknowledged weight in my body -- like the last unwashed sheet that curls at the bottom of the hamper in perpetuity.

And it's always kind of sitting in the back your mind. Begging for attention.

When I was in undergrad, I remember going around the room for first-day introductions, and my writing professors sort of scratching their heads at my bold declaration that I "don't really hold publication as my loftiest goal." It wasn't a bad head-scratching per se. Writing with the end-goal of being published sort of overshadows my ability to write untethered and genuinely -- so I eschewed it from my definition, of myself, as a writer. It made me literally ill to try and accept that as part of a wider epistemology of what it means to write.

(It still does, a little bit.)

Part of this stems from a real understanding that my writing may never be well received. I write prose poetry, and lyrical, stream-of-consciousness braided essays, and those are good and well in an academic realm -- I find that other writers enjoy my writing -- but that might not be enough (is very likely not enough) to stand on in the brutal world of publishing.

Which is myopic reasoning in its own way.

Because you can beat around the bush, and make excuses-disguised-as-reservations until the cows come home, but at the end of the day...have you written? At all?

And I am finding, lately, the answer is no. 

And I could call that whatever I want. I can say -- oh, but I blog? But to be fully frank, I don't really write on this blog. Not really. Not well. There's not much I can point to on this space that even approximates the writing I'm proud of. At the same time, I don't journal, so this is the closest thing I have to a place where I can write (drivel) with no self-expectations or qualifications. But even this post -- which is ostensibly about writing -- is falling acutely short of accomplishing that.

And the actual truth is that when I've set out to publish a piece, and I've worked it 'til it's raw, and agonized over it...I've been much happier with my work. And productive. And I've published those pieces. Because it's not so much about making it the goal as it is about trying to refine and perfect a good thing.

And so, with Robert's encouragement (in combination with several manic fits of anxiety, and the cooling temperatures, and being in a good place financially, and realizing that I'm 25, and that our time in Colorado is coming to a close anyway...) I'm going to be spending more time writing. It actually started several weeks ago, and I've already a few near-finished pieces, and then a much heftier project that I'm slow-like-molasses pulling myself through. Yesterday was my last day at a part-time job that I actually enjoy, but that on top of photo-shooting was leaving no time for other pursuits.

And I know how fortunate -- how absurdly fortunate -- I am to have this. It's not something I'd ever have imagined as part of my life-trajectory, with growing up in a single-parent home below the poverty line, always working 3 jobs in college...and so I've always held something part-time, in addition to photography. Because the thought of not having a regular paycheck is terrifying. And the likelihood that I would ever even make a dime off writing is infinitesimally tiny. Renumeration for these hours, for these days ahead is not to be expected -- nor do I expect it.

But, the thought of realizing I'm thirty, or forty, or fifty, or at the end of my life, and that I've not written -- that is more deeply terrifying.

I know not what to call this new phase of life. What? I think it most closely resembles an internship...but I call the shots, make the plans, wield the red pen. I've a whole list of writing exercises, and word-count goals, and topics to research, and life experiences to (hopefully) have. Mostly, this looks like a wonderfully disheveled pile of half-started pieces and unincorporated sentences on scratch paper.

So that is where I am today. And if there's not a word for that, I'll make one up.

In due time.

10 comments:

  1. Bridget, I loved this post so much. If you haven't read Ann Patchett's "This is the Story of a Happy Marriage" (a collection of her essays.. only a few of which are actually about marriage!), I would highly, highly recommend it. She has a couple of absolutely wonderful essays on the process of being a writer, and the struggles and joys that come with. One of these essays, "The Getaway Car" is honestly one of my favorite things I've ever read. I'm not a writer, but it has stayed with me ever since I read it nonetheless. The other is, I believe, the introduction to the book. I also highly recommend her essay "Tennessee". Not an essay on writing, but so beautiful that I had to mention it.

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    1. That sounds like a wonderful read. Thank you for the recommendation -- I will definitely add it to my reading list. I really enjoy reading writers' thoughts on writing. If you've not read Bird by Bird (Anne Lamott) that is another very good one, and Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury. If you're into that. : ) I also buy the Best American Essays every year -- and usually the introductions are stellar (I've only been let down once!).

      Essays are really the form that beckon unto my heart, so reading a good one always puts me in the writing mood. One of my larger projects this year is to pen a larger work of fiction (I think the longest I completed in undergrad was only forty-some pages). I feel if I can be disciplined enough to just get a satisfactory first draft -- to weave lengthier plots and subplots, create interesting characters who function and grow beyond the demarcations of a short form -- I think I'll feel more confident, and more apt to write short pieces effectively, too.

      Anyway, Natasha, I always love your comments -- and you! Thanks again for the reading suggestions, too. I completely trust your taste, so if you are issuing accolades, they must be worthwhile. : )

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  2. I'm not a writer by any means and I adore your posts (writing). Your blog is inspiring, the cute and silly posts all the way down to the heartfelt break up letters to mr.sun. ;)
    I think it's quite chivalrous of your sweet hubby to encourage you to write full time. It's truly your God given gift and it would be wonderful of you could produce things you are really proud of. Things that you would have time to spend on! Even thinking about it now...I'd love to even just work part time to focus on things that I love. You are blessed to be able to do that my dear!

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    1. It really is. I don't really feel worthy of that vote of confidence. Just yet. In fact, it's something I've tried to back out of for years when he's tried to convince me to do this. And then there were the years of wondering -- do I do an MFA? -- and changing my mind on that a hundred times, too. But I think, in the end, when he pointed out to me that my capricious spirit and love of creating were why he wanted to be with me in the first place, I feel like I owe it to him to accept it, and just do as much as I can with it. So I think this was always sort of in the back of his mind. And it sometimes seems that he is as cognizant as I am to the subtle shifts in my personality when I'm writing versus not writing. (And I'm sure they affect him in ways ineffable, probably sometimes brutal.)

      (...And it's not something I would probably ever do without the guaranteed income from upcoming weddings + engagements, if we're being honest! I think I'll always be doing that, too.)

      But really, my hope is that anyone who desires this can have it at some point. You, and everyone else who has something to say! I've always told Robert that one of my dreams down the road would be to fund a college student's living costs so that he or she could invest those hours, otherwise spent working, in writing. If I ever make a dime off my writing, I'll immediately put some of it there.

      I think it's really interesting how in eras past, writers seemed to exist sort of extraneous to society, floated around or above it. But that's just not really the case anymore -- everyone is writing their novels on their lunch breaks, in the wee hours of the morning -- which makes for writing that isn't just more accessible...but also more relevant. So gather up those gloriously mundane work stories, and write them down, and study them, and poke at them, and take them apart, and put them back together, and I'm sure you'll have so much more material -- for stories to be written late at night, or early in the morning, or, I hope, in some season of openness. I have so many half-written stories from the past few years and I'm hoping to make one or two of them into something more tenable -- in this short window before he finishes school!

      I always look forward to your comments -- you are always so insightful, encouraging, and gracious. I can't thank you enough for that. : ) I'll be hoping for a season of magical star-alignment for you, too, sweet friend. You deserve it, assuredly, more than I.

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  3. I'm a brand new college freshman with bright dreams of becoming a writer, but like you, the idea of ever attempting to get published terrifies me. But not writing scares me even more. Thank you so much for writing this. Like Fitzgerald said, it helps me "discover that [my] longings are universal longings, that [I'm] not lonely and isolated from anyone."

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  4. Hello there. I am happy for you to be moving your life in this direction. Doing things like that are absolutely the way to go. Moving towards a life without regret or 'what ifs', you absolutely need to take the leap and jump in. It sounds like you are doing just that. I'm sure it will be hard and scary at times, creativity unfortunately is such a precarious existence, but given your incredible talent I'm sure that it will all be worth it. I love your writing, be it blog writing or otherwise and I know you have more than a few fans out there who do too!

    :)

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  5. I love what you wrote here: "But, the thought of realizing I'm thirty, or forty, or fifty, or at the end of my life, and that I've not written -- that is more deeply terrifying." Sometimes I am too focused on my fears of starting/trying/working, that I don't think about how much more scary it is to NOT do it. To know I had a dream but didn't do anything about it (and because of fear? makes no sense). Best of luck to you in this new stage. I admire those who make scary decisions in pursuit of being more of their true self.

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  6. I have obviously never audibly heard your voice, yet the way you write makes it so clear for me to hear. I have loved the evolution of even the posts from this summer. I love reading the unique way you use words to paint a picture and knowing that I have so thoroughly enjoyed what I've read so far, I can only imagine that your best work must be truly magical. I sometimes so wish that I was a writer...I pretend to be sometimes, just for myself. And reading your posts and hearing your voice has inspired me to try once again to express through creative writing...again, just for myself.But where you express through word, I've found it most natural to express through paint. And I find myself in a time of internship, as well! It is sometimes a scary place, but mostly it's extremely gratifying and exciting. I am so excited for you as you begin your journey after the Epiphany! And if you ever would like an visual illustrator for your word illustrations, just let me know :) I would love to paint your words, just so I could read more of your work. Best wishes to you, dear girl! I look forward to where your words take you.

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  7. Exactly how I've been feeling. That little voice that tells me I should be writing but for some reason (usually that wanting a regular paycheck thing) I'm not. Now that I'm freelance blogging I should be more in control of my hours (you'd think) and more easily able to make time to write. At the beginning of the summer, I read this book called Writing Wild from Tina Welling. It's a little (I really don't know what the word is, cliche, or even corny, maybe? but you'll know what I mean if you read it) at times, but in it she suggests that when you make that decision to REALLY write, to dedicate your life to it, you go through kind of a change, because you're finally committed, even if you've been writing for years. And one way to test the waters is to give yourself 6 months and make a commitment to whatever that creative pursuit is, and just have no expectations (which for me would be publication or "finished" pieces), and just do it for you. So that's what I'm trying to do now, and I've been writing a lot more. But still it's been mostly journaling, but at least I feel like it's a start. Would love to hear more about your journey spending more time with it! And of course read your work one day!

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