Tuesday, September 04, 2012

And So It Goes

In 2005, I started Life Goes On, I Think to dust off the pen.  It was a way to find my voice.  It was a way to break old habits and start new ones.  But for the better part of the last two years, my pen has mostly collected dust.

After graduating from Stonecoast, I felt I had earned the right to take a break from writing.  I set my novel to the side, refused to even open a Word document, and went about my life.  There was a ceramics class I was interested in taking (exhibit A: a lopsided bowl on my mantle).  There were knitting projects I wanted to create (exhibit B: one arm of a flutter cardigan still dangling off of wooden, size-8 needle).  And there were intimidating culinary feats I wanted to conquer (exhibit C: a ceviche recipe splattered with lime juice).

"You haven't been writing on your blog," E said a few weeks ago.  "It's kind of freaking me out."

"I just haven't felt inspired."

Truth be told, I had backed so far away from writing, I feared doing it.  With an MFA in hand, I felt obligated to provide perfected prose for my readers.  Plus, with an MFA in hand, I felt I should be working on my novel instead of tinkering away on a blog.  My creative energy should be poured into something with merit.  Except I have felt boxed in by my novel, the remaining chapters yet to be written requiring finesse and balance, complexity that to the reader should feel effortless. The mere thought of writing has left me paralyzed.

This past weekend, a woman I met back in 2007, Claire Fontaine, was in Atlanta with her daughter Mia to promote their new book, Have Mother, Will Travel.  I first met Claire at Blogher 2007, our introduction the result of us both needing last-minute accommodations.  Claire later wrote a letter of recommendation when I applied to graduate school.  Though our communication has been limited in recent years, I have always known she is only a click away.  Yesterday, as Leslie and I drove her and Mia back to the airport, Claire asked about my writing.

"I don't feel inspired," I said with a shrug.

"Oh honey, if every writer waited for inspiration, nothing would ever be written.  You need to just sit down and write."

Claire wasn't saying anything new.  It was exactly the approach I took in grad school, blocking nights and sometimes entire weekends to see myself through a short story.  It was exactly the structure I had dismissed but so desperately needed.

In 2005, I was a blogger who wrote.  In 2010, as I walked across the stage to collect my MFA, I was a writer who happened to have a blog.  And now, in 2012, I am ready to just be a writer.  If I want to finish my novel, query an agent, and find a publisher, I need to sit my ass down in a chair and do some heavy lifting.  I have to write clunky, horrible prose without apology.  I need to allocate three hours to thinking about a plot without writing a single word.

I have spent the last week or so figuring out how to make this transition.  I have considered taking my blog private.  It has also crossed my mind to delete Life Goes On, I Think altogether.  Neither option felt right.  After all, this blog and the readers of it have been integral to my growth as both a woman and as a writer.  Deleting the blog would be like denying it's relevance and I just can't do that.

As I pulled away from the curb Monday morning, Claire and Mia making their way into the airport and a stretch of highway before me, I decided to keep Life Goes On, I Think public, or at least parts of it.  In the weeks to come, I will un-publish many posts.  My goal is to retain the pieces that truly capture my life these last few years, as if to organize these written snapshots into a photo album of sorts.  But I'm leaving room for one more post: the one where I announce my book deal.

Thank you for reading, for commenting, and for making me both a wiser woman and a far more capable writer.