I’ve been in a bit of a writing pickle lately. A series of stories and articles accepted last fall began to hit the shelves, which led to a sort of crisis of confidence. (I know, publication is supposed to have the opposite effect, but stay with me here.)
Suddenly, I started reading more and more about publishing and being a Real Writer, and, honestly, it freaked me out.
I’ve been writing creatively for as long as I can remember. Stories bubble up and I feel compelled to write them down. This is just a part of who I am and how I process information.
For the last few months, I’ve been paralyzed to write much of anything. All of my stories felt small and insignificant, or worse, big and scary to say out loud. I’ve laid awake at night worrying about how I might be perceived by my readers and my friends and people in my church when I consider telling certain stories. I fear being labeled or judged, or perhaps worse of all, deemed insignificant.
I worry that my writing is bad and my stories are worse. I worry that there is no market for what I have to say. I worry about being judged for what I have to say.
This is the baggage I carried into the Calvin festival. I joked with a friend that I was hoping to find my purpose in life while I was there. That’s not asking too much, is it?
And while I can’t say that I found my life’s purpose, I did find my way back to my passion: creative writing. I’m back to just letting the stories bubble up and writing them down. Whether anyone ever reads this slog is yet to be decided, but the truth is, it doesn’t matter.
A lecture by Elizabeth Berg, one of my favorite authors, soothed me like a long soak in a hot tub. "There's no right or wrong way to write," she told us. Her own writing process sounds so much like my own--early in the morning still in pajamas--and it doesn't hurt that she got her first big writing break from Parents magazine. Her lecture comforted me like a warm hug from an old friend. It's going to be okay, she said through her words that didn't really say that at all. Just keep writing.
I’ve stopped reading the writer blogs full of sage wisdom and marketing advice. Instead, I’m reading books that fill me up. Beautifully written books not about writing, but about living with hope in this broken world.
My creative energy is back. I’m listening to that deep place in my soul that does have something to say. And for now, just writing it all down is enough.