Saturday, May 3, 2008

about the writing

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.


His Path Through The Wilderness said...


I was at the festival of faith and writing. It was so encouraging. My soul was enlarged and I too was filled to the brim--then overflowed. I read the books and culture article on the festival, then Gilbreath's blog and I found you. Peace to you in our Lord Jesus Christ. May you be satisfied in writing.

Marlena Graves

Llama Momma said...

Marlena -- thanks for commenting! Yes, the festival was a rich time, wasn't it? Blessings to you,..

Anonymous said...

I've been meaning to email you about your writing. So excited to read this post and watch you in your journey.

Llama Momma said...

SP -- Thank you for coming along on this journey with me. :-)

MamaToo said...

I'm hoping, perhaps, that we'll hear the titles of a couple of those books that fill you up! :-)
It is so refreshing to hear your honesty and creativity come through your writing. It is a gift, for sure, and I think you use it well.

chrissy said...

Happy to read you are back to writing, don't hold back, be you!

Llama Momma said...

Thank you, Mama Too.

I've been reading novels by Haven Kimmel. (She's deep and funny...not an everyday combination!) I've also been reading some "young adult" fiction by Katherine Patterson. "Bridge to Terabithia" is excellent. I heard both speak at Calvin, and am impressed with both of them.)

Llama Momma said...

Chrissy -- thank you for the advice. "Be me." Yes. :-)

Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

so, here you are writing - and here we are, continuing to read!

we really must make that lunch or coffee happen soon so I can get to know the writer better!!

ChosenRebel said...

Write sister. Just write. Let the critics have their blood sport. The glory and the lifter of your head lives!

Llama Momma said...

Halfmom -- Yes, certainly the blog is one outlet for writing, and I plan to continue, though it's not the best forum for all kinds of writing.

Chosenrebel -- thank you.

Ann Kroeker said...

I love this honesty and openness about your journey. "Just keep writing." Thank you to Elizabeth Berg for saying what every writer needs to hear. Just keep writing.

And your other decision to read beautiful stuff stands out to me because of my post today (good to see you there!) about Beauty.

It's not just kids who need a steady diet of Beauty--it's the adults, too; the moms; the writers.

May you soak in Beauty today--even if the stories are hard, the beauty is, as Paterson said, in the truth-telling.

Llama Momma said...

Thank you, Ann. :-)

L.L. Barkat said...

Oh yes, the books! This is the place to be. Munching, sipping, swallowing whole. Yes.

Llama Momma said...

LL -- Yes. It always comes back to the books, doesn't it? Blessings to you on your writing journey.

23 degrees said...

LM, your words have a way of connecting us all. They help us to be honest about our own messy lives and see the Perfection and beauty in imperfection. You are a blessing.

Who knows the seeds you have planted and lives you have touched (and are touching) by your faithfulness to write, to tell your story. I understand your fear about full disclosure and pray you will just be faithful.

Your words remind me of LL's post:

Llama Momma said...

23 degrees -- thank you for your sweet encouragement. Yes, pray that I would be faithful. I so want to be a messenger of God's grace through my writing.

Sara said...

I could grab you, hug you, and eat you up! I canNOT believe how much I needed to read this post!

I too felt my stories would be insignaficant or I would be judged. It gets so stressful, but to relax and just let the words flow from your fingers... to just enjoy the words from other authors and breath it all in... well.. that's the way to do it!

Thanks Llama Momma! :)

Llama Momma said...

Sara -- I'm glad you stumbled by. From one writer to another: simply write. Be true to you and your story, and just write.

And if you need more encouragement, look for Elizabeth Berg's book on writing -- It think it's called "Out into the open" or something like that. Very refreshing!!

Blessings on you...

maggie, dammit said...

The best writing is the bravest.

and this?

"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."

is most definitely the answer. Bravo to you!

Ann Voskamp @Holy Experience said...

"I worry that my writing is bad and my stories are worse."

Ah, yes. You speak my heart.

But you point the way: just write what He gives. Don't smother the Spirit moving. Write because we have to, not if there is readers.

You bless.
Thank you, friend...

All's grace,