This is where I’m supposed to admit how insecure I am as a writer. I am. But I used to be much worse. Elizabeth told a great story illustrating the importance of just showing up. Why did it take me over a half century to figure that out? Because I really did finally figure it out, although it took me so long.
When I was little I wanted to be a writer like Louisa May Alcott or Carolyn Keene. That was before I found out that there was no Carolyn Keene truly, and that Nancy Drew had been written only in part by a woman named Mildred Wirt Benson and wholly by a company with the nefarious name The Stratemeyer Syndicate. But I am going off on a tangent, and that is poor writing. By the way, I also wanted to be an actress and an archeologist. Just saying that I’m not a Johnny One Note.
In high school I showed my poems to my best friend who turned up her nose and then to my boyfriend who looked confused.
In college, I stopped writing, and instead I studied, partied, got married, worked, studied, partied.
After my husband and I adopted our son, I turned back to writing with a poem about picking him up at the airport. I wrote other poems and applied to a college writing program.
While I was in the program, I wrote poems and stories. Then a famous poet who had selected one of my poems in a competition sat me down and gave me some advice. She told me to go on and get some more education. I’m a good girl and do what I’m told, so I listened to her.
With two little children and teaching and studying, I didn’t have time for my writing, so I stopped writing again.
Looking where I had come from, the pattern was now apparent: I would write for a while, but then stop showing up at my desk. And why? Because my kids needed schlepping to school and activities, and I was carrying around tote bags full of papers to grade. I had meals to prepare, a house to clean, and there was always another holiday or birthday looming ahead which I needed to prepare for. All of those things were rewarding (well, except maybe the paper grading, which did get tedious, I’ll admit). I didn’t want to give them up, but could I have squeezed in some writing? I’ll never know. I didn’t try. I suspect I had a decades-long case of insecure writer blues.
A few years ago, I had foot surgery and a long recovery and I had to retire from teaching. After I had fully recovered and had moved from California to Arizona, I told myself I was going to PBIC (put butt in chair). And because I have ADHD and can’t just sit around doing nothing (I’m the one reading the book and doing a Sudoku puzzle at the same time in the doctor’s waiting room), just by PBIC I automatically started writing.
Now I’m working on a memoir, creating a play with my daughter, writing 3 blogs, and occasionally drafting a poem or two. No, there is NOT enough time. But at least I’m showing up to write now–even on days like today when I am wondering if I should even hit the “publish” button.