It all seemed so simple when I first retired. At last! I had time to write! Oh what plans I had—
Short story about Dixie Carter’s wedding in McLemoresville, TN. Wasn’t sure what else I might construct a story around, but I started on that one.
A local writer’s group sponsored The Valley Voices writing contest, and I was determined to submit to that group’s competition. Now what could I write that would impress the judges?
And yes, I must start journaling—writing down stories about my experiences as the Public Information Director for a North Carolina Sheriff’s Office. There was this time when a citizen
insisted on telling me about how ticks had infested her yard, her house, her body. And just what did that have to do with crime in our county? I couldn’t wait to tell that story.
And then there was the time that a grieving mother picketed outside my office window. A sad tale filled with murder, twins being born with the veil, fake detectives, and mug shots drawn in pencil on paper plates. That story needed to be told to emphasize the need for mental health assistance. That mother’s experience lives on in my heart—her story and its effect on me would make for good reading.
But I was new to Blacksburg. My husband had lived here since 1996, but my residency didn’t begin until 2013. So it was off to the Blacksburg Newcomers Club (BBNC) that welcomed me warmly. Oh what Interest Groups they had for me to explore—Wine Group, Book Club (not 1 but 2), Lunch Bunch, eventually Crochet, Walking, and of course, a Writers’ Group, and our Circle Supper where the dearest and truest friends lay in wait for me.
Naturally, I went head first into all the activities, serving on the Board as its Corresponding/Recording Secretary. Even though the Dixie Carter story sat unfinished on my lap top and the Grieving Mother story rattled around in my brain but not on paper or disc, I told myself that I was writing—writing letters and notes and minutes for BBNC.
Then my parents fell ill. Literally, my father fell and broke his hip which meant no one to care for our mother plagued with Alzheimer’s.
Ten hour trips to Tennessee with my sister and sometimes alone to care for them, to helplessly witness their decline, their death, occupied my time although journalling about this experience helped. Ok, I was writing. I ended up with some very cathartic memoirs about this time in my life, but who would want to read them?
Here lately, I notice that any time I sit down to write, I find an excuse to do something else. Some days my house is spotless as I clean out pantries, clean bathrooms, read that book for our next book club meeting, clean my jewelry, empty the dishwasher, read FlipBoard—do anything but write. I spend my time chasing butterflies but not writing.
And if I have written the rare story or essay, I am afraid to let it go. It must be perfect! I will delete a the and add a this; insert a comma or rarely delete one (I love the Oxford comma). I move paragraphs, change character names, switch between passive voice (usually a no-no) and active voice (a yes-yes). l am afraid to have anyone read it until I think it is perfect.
But why would anyone want to read what I have written?
Since I wrote that last sentence, I have continued to procrastinate about writing. Why not take a ride to Paint Bank, VA to see the buffalo at Hollow Hill Farms? Why not make a Texas Trash Pie for my neighbor’s father? Why not organize my greeting cards or prune my daffodils?
But look—words not on paper but on a screen, on a disc! Thanks to my writing friend and blog mentor who encouraged me to examine the reasons for my procrastination, I wrote. You see the results in the text above. Basically, I think, I am afraid, worried I have nothing to say that is meaningful, and no routine. Maybe I need a supervisor, someone with assignments for me. I don’t have writer’s block—I have lots of ideas but no reason to follow through with them.
What motivates you to write, paint, crochet, knit, do anything creative? Am I the only one with these issues? Maybe I’m just lazy.
One thought on “The Reluctant Writer”
Great post and no, you are not the only one. We just all have our own ways to get stuck (but without a bock) and ways to get moving again. I guess what we all need is to give ourselves permission to write any way we want. It need not be journaling or a Pulitzer quality piece or even something we want published. As long as we write. As long as we write, as long as we exchange thoughts and ideas, as long as we encourage others to write. I think that should be enough. Everything else we manage to achieve is just a bonus.
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