The Confessions of a Non-writing Writer

Several weeks ago, I attended my 40th high school reunion. My high school was located in a small rural farming community in northwest Mississippi, and my graduating class was small. Because of our small number, you would think it would be easier to get us together through the years, but we’d not had a reunion since our ten-year one. Ten years hadn’t changed us that much. We were still young and our looks hadn’t changed much since graduation. After forty years, that wouldn’t be the case. So, it was with a mixture of excitement, curiosity, and trepidation that I made the trip “home”. 


Grooving to the music.

The reunion was a weekend event planned around the Great Annual Roast and Run Festival. On Friday night, we gathered for dinner and drinks, started the catching up process, took some pictures and then headed to the park where the festivities were getting underway with music, dancing and fireworks. The next day, the park was filled with booths selling homemade crafts and tents housing massive grills that were lovingly tended to by cooks vying for that Grill Master Title in the cook off. Additional tents, sponsored by local businesses and groups hosting events, such as our class, dotted the grassy area to provide places for people to sit, relax, and visit.



Lighting up the sky

When I attended our ten-year reunion, I was a teacher. When you haven’t seen familiar faces in years, one of the most asked question is “What are you doing now?” The majority of classmates were in the same line of work they’d chosen way back when. They may have changed jobs, but they were still following that same career path. Me? Not so much.  I’d gone from teacher, to customer service rep, to office manager, to vice-president of a small Swedish company to writer. 

Remember I said my 40th high school reunion. If you do the math, or even if you don’t, it still means I’m a few years shy of my sixtieth birthday. Here I was listening to my friends talk about retiring in a few years, while I’d not even gotten my writing career off the ground yet. Talk about a rude awakening.  

Checking out the goods.

Checking out the goods.

Before we go any further, I need to take you back to four years ago to give you a glimpse of the full picture and why the rude awakening took place. During those four years, a chain of events involving my family, my day job, and my after-hours writing all led to my decision to pursue a career as a full-time writer. According to the plan I’d made back then, I should have finished several books and have a contract signed for at least one of them. That hadn’t happened. Instead, I was thrown off track by some things that happened that deeply impacted not only my every day life, but also, my writing life. 

I spent those days dealing with family obligations and believe me, there were a lot of them. I traveled a lot (out of necessity, not pleasure), worried even more, and stressed over not writing. I tried to find time to write, but every time I sat down at my laptop, my mind would wander to the million other things weighing me down.  I couldn’t focus and after days, months, and even years of basically being non-productive, old insecurities crept into my head. While my writing friends were turning out book after book, I stared at a blank screen, willing my fingers to move over the keys. It seemed every one I knew in the writing world was moving ahead while I was left floundering in an ocean of confusion, self-disgust, and yes, that most horrid of feelings, self-pity. 

Now, let’s get back to the rude awakening and the class reunion. Where was I? Oh, yes. That familiar question:

The Class of 1974 Tent

The Class of 1974 Tent

“So, June, what are you doing now? Still teaching?”

“No. I left teaching years ago. I am a writer.”

That was when the heavens opened, a ray of light shone down on me, and a deep voice thundered, “June! You are a writer! Go forth and write!” Okay, so it wasn’t quite like that, but believe me, saying those words aloud had a profound affect on me. I. AM. A. WRITER.Who knew the power those four little words held? How long had it been since I’d said those words, but more importantly, how long since I’d believed them? 

Grill Masters at work.

Grill Masters at work.

After a weekend of hugs, laughter, and shared memories, I was in my car headed home. It was then I realized that I had to let go of a time that no longer existed. For the past several years, I’d wanted things in my life to be like they were before that chain of events. (Except for the job. The job I would give up all over again. No regrets there.) If you’re familiar with the stages of grief, then you will recognize this as the acceptance stage. The final stage of the healing process. A few miles and some tears later, I understood that I was leaving behind a large part of the reason that had kept me from writing all these many months. The trip was bittersweet, but by going back, I was now ready to move forward. 

As much as I believed I wanted to jump back into my revisions, I knew it wouldn’t be that simple. Things are rarely as easy as they seem. As I go through the process of moving forward, I thought I would share a few things I’ve learned along the way.

  • Never compare yourself to others. Just because Positive Jane with a million books under her belt can write as the world crumbles around her doesn’t mean you must to do the same. It doesn’t make you weaker or her stronger. It just is.
  • You can walk in someone else’s shoes or they in yours, but that doesn’t mean you’ll experience the same emotions. We are all different. Thank you, God, for that. :-)  Sharing similar experiences doesn’t mean you know how someone is feeling. 
  • You can’t be responsible for things over which you have no control. The emotions/thoughts of others is one such thing. Dealing with your emotions can be difficult enough, therefore, you must allow other people take ownership of their own feelings.

Because I love happy endings, I thought I would save this one for last: Losing that all-consuming passion for writing doesn’t mean you’re no longer a writer. Don’t let the fear of not producing get into your head. You have a writer’s heart, so listen to it. Believe in it. Believe in yourself. The joy will return. The passion will surface. You are a writer.

Are you one of those writers who can write come hell or high water? If so, I’d love to hear how you do it. If you’re like me and have suffered some writing lapses in your career, how did you rekindle that passion? 

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