Last month, I learned from Elizabeth at The Daily Creative Writer that the first Wednesday of the month is Insecure Writer’s Support Day. Apparently it was started by Alex J. Cavanaugh.
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.