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September 2007

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WRITING EXERCISES

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susanwrites

susanwrites in wordygirls

When Writers Don't Write

I am not a person who handles change well at all. I have just moved which means tons and tons of change. I am finding it difficult to write, to think about writing, to even pretend to think about writing or remember what my life was like when I wrote most every day.  It makes me sad. It also makes me feel guilty because I hear of other writers who are in the midst of turmoil much more crazymaking than mine and they continue to write, every day.

I still hear the voices of some characters in my head but they are muted, buried under layers of things that need doing just for survival. Go to work in a cubicle all day. Go home and unpack boxes. Supervise the various repair people that are coming and going all day. Clean up after the various repair people. Unpack some boxes. Laundry. Rearrange furniture, again. Walk the dog. Unpack more boxes. Rest. Dinner. Repeat. Day after day. Yes, eventually the house will be settled and I will go back to work but that doesn't stop me from wondering now about the "how" and the "when". Nor does it make me any less scared that perhaps I won't find my way back to the words at all. This is a pattern in my life, in many of our lives. There are times when we cannot write and that can't help but have some sort of an affect on our writing and how we think of ourselves as writers.

I know many writers who have "quit writing" a multitude of times or took a sabbatical of sorts to revive their tired spirits. I know many writers who move or get sick or have to deal with intense family issues and their life is so out of control that they simply can't write. And I know that many of them, (I'd like to think MOST of them) found their way back to writing once more. Eventually.

What I don't know is, when they aren't writing, how do they dealt with the idea that they were writers who were not writing?

For me I have reread in snatches across the past few months, Tillie Olsen's book, SILENCES. First published in the 70s it is, as some have called it, an angry book yet a call to action on how circumstances affect and inform our writing. Whenever a silent time of writing comes upon me, I turn to this book to help me gain strength from the struggles of others before me. (I would offer some quotes from it but I can't, ahem, seem to locate it at the moment, even though the book boxes are all unpacked.)

I have no answers, no solution to a problem that seems to revisit me again and again, except to remind myself that this appears to be a pattern with me. To remember I should not compare myself to other writers. To tell myself that for every writer blogging or talking about how they continue to write every day, throughout every sort of disaster or change going on in their life that there is another writer like me, overwhelmed by life at the moment and unable to put any words on paper at all. And that's okay. One is not better than the other, merely different. I can wish things were different in the way that new writers look for the inside secret to getting published that they think the other writers are keeping from them but in reality, I know that it is what it is and I must wait it out.

Still, if there is some super secret that the rest of you know about on how to get back to work when you can't imagine  ever writing again, I really wish you'd share it with me about now.

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