“Start with yourself” was the secondhand advice a friend gave me, more years ago than I can accurately say, when I talked about writing again, writing anything. A mentor of hers had advised as much when the friend was trying to get back to her photography work. (She is an awesome photographer, my friend.) I am going with 12 years ago.
Many of us creative types lose track of actually doing what we love, are not as productive as we wish, or stop producing altogether for some period of time, maybe years (um, decades). Not all of us. Some are breathtakingly productive. I applaud you.
I want to write again, but I think I don’t know how to, think I can’t, tell myself writing a blog post is pointless anyway. I also feel like I can’t be an “open book,” can’t be honest, bare.
Start with myself? I know nothing anymore. I am not sure how I ended up where I am. I don’t have grand goals. I have isolated myself, on purpose, because I trust so few people. I don’t feel safe. Being with friends can be like writing: you have to be open. To be open, you need to feel connected and trust. I am resistant to opening up in any real-real way whatsoever.
Wow. That’s cheerful, for my 47th birthday (yeah, today). I am such a healthy human being.
Let me try that again, on a lighter take. On Instagram, a random Doctor Who fan account posted a photo of the Doctor captioned, “My whole life can be summed up in one sentence: It didn’t go as planned and that is ok.” (Side note: as a writer/copyeditor type, I had to fix the original caption. Notice the lack of punctuation after “sentence” and “ok,” plus the division of the so-called one sentence, making it two. I had to fix it because my brain cringed.)
This is likely a familiar feeling, for better or worse, that many of us share.
The statement might be more accurate if I had ever planned more than a year or so ahead. Well, I suppose had my planning moments:
1) I was going to be a medievalist. I determined to study the middle ages in high school, and that plan lasted through college and later was picked up again in grad school (a master’s degree—I couldn’t plan far enough ahead for a PhD).
2) I was going to be a teacher, and I was, in two chunks: two years out of college and three after grad school.
Thus, the caption proves itself true: I loved studying the middle ages, pursued my studies with rare focus and determination. Am I a scholar now? Nope. (I still love the middle ages and keep up with some scholarly stuff, if it is accessible and well-written.) I saw myself as a teacher, and that plan was abandoned, by choice, for so many reasons. I didn’t hate it, and I wasn't even bad at it. But that is a story for another time.
The earliest life plan: From a very young age, the single digits, I was going to be a writer. I wrote stories in those marble composition books as a child, filled them with made-up stories of groups of friends with wonderful names, fantastical events, talking animals.
I can thank my mother that I still have some of these. (Not really a side note: My mother was a writer of some renown and amazing talent. She encouraged any and all writing.) I wrote in high school, short stories, beginnings of maybe-novels, and lots of poetry. I continued a bit in college. But then I stopped writing fiction and poetry.
I was a budding medieval scholar. Scholarly writing examining aspects of the middle ages for undergraduate and graduate school took creative writing’s place. Even my scholarly writing was creative, however. It took on a life of its own, relied on my instinct to move bits about to make an essay or paper just the right shape, structure.
After that, my writing didn’t stop dead: I still write in journals. I love my journals of different sizes, some lined, some unlined. Oh, and the graph paper ones! I have one in my bag, one on my workshop/desk, another by my bed, mini ones tucked places just in case one is needed in an emergency. I may also have half a small bookshelf filled with journals yet to be used. Don’t judge.
Once, I even kept a blog, this one, When Time Meets Eternity, somewhat regularly, after my first child was born in 2004. Today it is a very lonely blog, desolate even. I am going back to it. Determined.
This post is my start, in 2018, on my birthday, so many years later.
PS: If you made it this far, I must say I am frustrated that so many of my photos disappeared from my blog. That is going to take some time to fix. Or I can simply look forward and not worry about the "broken photo" icons.