How long are you willing to wait?
For me? June 14th marked 10 years.
Postal Service on tour for the first time since 2003, when their one and only album, Give Up was released. I still remember where I was 10 years ago when I first discovered them; on the corner of Newbury Street and Mass. Ave, sporting a pair of vinyl headphones that blocked out a modicum of retail chatter as I stood transfixed at a listening station in the belly of Boston’s Virgin Megastore. It was there I heard Ben Gibbard’s soft, pleading voice loud and clear:
In March I departed for the Pacific Northwest and the Wild Mountain Memoir Retreat; three days spent in the Cascade Mountains, devouring local grub and IPAs, communing with fellow writers and learning from some pretty impressive memoirists. (side note: there is talk of repeating the retreat next year, so aspiring memoir writers take note). Organizer and instructor, Theo Pauline Nestor, led my favorite session: “It’s Not JUST About You”. She introduced me to the concept of writers using memoir to tell a bigger story about the world we live in. I had an inkling of that, but when she explained it in detail, using memoirs by Cheryl Strayed and Joan Didion (writers I admire) to illustrate her point, the proverbial light bulb dinged above my head. This was what I needed — a way to connect my writing to the bigger picture, the shared humanity we all face.
“…jealousy is destructive. It won’t make you a better writer. It won’t make you a better person.”
Sitting 30,000ft in the air, hovering somewhere over the state of Ohio I’m struck by these words, uttered by Cheryl Strayed, in the latest issue of Creative Nonfiction. A timely piece of advice to me, as a not-yet published writer I find it difficult to tamper down the flicker of jealousy that pops up at the most inopportune times.
Dare I say, painful?
It physically hurts. And it’s lasted for more than a week.
I’m starting to get concerned.
Writer’s block that I can’t seem to overcome. I even attempted the trick where I start out writing about my writer’s block, which I’ve read can help. People seemingly stuck in their tracks find a way to write through the block, prose bursts forth and they’re writing a masterpiece. Ok, probably not a masterpiece but at least the start of a rough, really rough, 1st draft. But me? I keep asking questions: why is this happening? Why can’t I seem to break through? What type of writer am I? The questions are endless and with each new question the words seem farther away.
Yesterday I was at my wit’s end, and turned to writing in my journal. I figured if I couldn’t write a story at least I could write about how I felt about not being able to write. With each sentence my anxiety grew until I couldn’t stop writing—in capital letters. I was essentially yelling at myself in my journal. Who does this? With each swipe of the pen on paper, my frustration mounted until I just started scribbling on the page, essentially ripping it from the binding and then promptly burst into tears. Until there was nothing left.
But then? One breath, followed by another. I sat with my mangled Moleskine. I attempted to compose myself and gather my thoughts. I walked away from yesterday’s writing session with silence and a bit of clarity. I suppose sometimes you have to break down everything (barriers, preconceived notions, your mental state) in order to start from scratch and rebuild.
Every day my mouse hovers near the WordPress Dashboard link on my Bookmarks Bar and never once makes it to the “click” phase. With each passing day I felt a little guiltier like I’m neglecting an important writing outlet. After all, I write nearly every day: working on short stories, outlining new ideas, the occasional pitch. I am, dare I say, prolific? Yet a blog post is seemingly out of reach and I wonder how many other bloggers struggle with the start-stop-start of blogging?
Six weeks are enough of a lag time though and let’s face it, the type-A girl that I am would be mortified if you looked at my archives and noticed there was a month missing (see: March and July 2012, not to be repeated). In thinking about my first foray back to blogdom after an extended absence I couldn’t decide on a topic, so I figured a brief synopsis on five events that would have been separate blog posts had I got my act together: