I haven’t updated about my writing in quite awhile. As most of you know, I decided to take a break in May from the whole writing thing for several months since I was feeling so overwhelmed with all of the expectations I was placing on myself – I found balancing a full-time job plus writing plus all assorted life-things too much for me to handle and I decided simply to take some time off and do nothing more than work, exercise and enjoy my friends and family.
I am not sure how this would have turned out under other circumstances but under these, in particular, I found myself almost immediately pregnant and very thankful I had allowed myself this break since I was too tired to do much more than work, anyway. A lot went by the wayside during this time, including housework, and I am glad I didn’t have the extra pressure of self-imposed writing deadlines since the most I could seem to handle was coming home from work, chatting with S.and immersing myself in (as I believe I’ve mentioned) “House” reruns.
Sometime in late July or early August I began surfacing, and I realized that if I don’t write, if I ceased completely ( which I was considering) I would probably grow into a very depressed person. Firstly, there isn’t that much on tv that interests me to fill in the time I would usually spend writing and secondly, I am not the kind of person who would do something else instead of writing. I didn’t throw myself into do-it-yourself home repair or join a pottery class or even really get all baby crazy, apart from a couple small purchases and a couple of books. The truth is, nothing else interests me as much as reading and writing and I don’t feel entirely normal, not writing.
It was an easy decision to return to this blog – even if I don’t update as frequently as I used to I still love the blogging community and I intend for my blog to be around for a long, long time with some periods much busier than others. It wasn’t as easy deciding what to do about the bulk of my writing – the essays and novel I’ve been working on for years. I didn’t feel, as one of my old writing teachers used to refer to it, pure writerly joy in my projects anymore. While I know that joy comes and goes throughout the writing process, I honestly couldn’t imagine feeling it again for any of my past work. I took the month of September to read through my essays and my novel and come up with a plan for the future of my personal writing, and this is what I decided: I’m starting anew. All the writing I’ve done in the last decade (since I truly started in earnest after college) is crap and I hate it and I’m considering it one long decade of practice. It’s boxed up and put away. I apologize if I promised you an opportunity to read some of it – trust me when I say I’m saving you a lot of pain. Two full books, one nonfiction and the other fiction, various short stories and essays, and I can’t stand any of it. It reads like practice writing to me. My novel, in particular – I’m so glad I wrote it. I really am – but it is SUCH a first novel, basically my fictionalized autobiography with every writing technique known to man thrown in – I NEEDED to write it so I could get over it, and I did, and I proved to myself I could write a novel. I actually think my MFA manuscript is a tad bit better and might have had some moments to salvage if I had pursued it rigorously after graduate school but now most of the material is dated…it’s very post 9/11.
Nope, it’s time for new work, for better work. In boxing up all my writing from the last decade I’ve managed to tap into that pure writerly joy again – I have so many ideas I want to pursue, so many projects to tackle. What’s more, I think I’ve struck, for once, a reasonable work/life/writing/exercise balance and one that I think will be maintainable even after I have the baby. At the very least, I won’t be beating myself up when I’m NOT writing, and that’s a pretty big step forward for me.
I still plan on blogging about my writing and my goals on this blog…ironically it was the original intention of this space. So, in the spirit of full disclosure, I am slowly starting a new novel, one that will be modeled nothing like a Pat Conroy or Isabel Allende novel and is, I truly believe, a novel only I could write. My other goals for the month of October? To re-subscribe to one literary journal, and to find one writing contest/request for submission that I could actually enter, and do so. I’ll report back at the end of the month to let you know how I’ve faired.
Happy writing, all!