I met Beth my freshmen year in college. She was a senior English major and we had a French class together. We weren’t really friends, but her conversations were always very entertaining and interesting. One day, mid-way through the quarter, she came into class pissed off. Her History professor had given her a B in a paper. The grade wasn’t an A, she was told, because of the writing and not because of the content. “I told him that he was nuts,” she said to me. “I told him that I could write him a three-page paper on the air in the room and still get an A.”
I like that quote. As a writing major, in my senior year I pretty much felt the same way. I would do the groundwork for something and then sit at the computer the night before a paper was due and turn in an A paper the next morning. I wrote press releases, memos and letters as part of my internships. I wrote essays and papers for school. Writing was like a well-toned muscle I could flex at will.
I miss that.
When I took this job I knew that it didn’t involve writing. At least, it didn’t involve a lot of writing. I didn’t really stop to think that I would miss it as much as I have. I also didn’t stop to think that being away from writing would make it so hard to start up again.
I love to write. I love the idea that my words can evoke images and feelings and ideas in other people. I love the idea that I can fashion words in a way that informs or calls to action or angers or aggravates. I love to hear what others think of my little stories, fiction and nonfiction. I like to hear the feedback, positive and negative. I like knowing that my words have had any sort of impact. I like knowing that people will recognize my words as mine.
These days trying to write is like trying to run three miles when I haven’t been to the track in months. It’s slow going. It’s painful and stressful and irritating. Some days it makes me want to skip it. I make excuses to avoid it, to get away without doing it. And some days it’s rewarding. I’m full of energy and can’t wait to tackle the challenge. My muse speaks to me and through me.
Those of you who aren’t writers, who don’t yearn to express yourselves through words the way I do, can’t really understand how frustrating it is to have it become so difficult all of a sudden. That something so essential should be so out of reach, so much work, is . . . well, frustrating. It makes me hope that my next job, whatever that may be, will involve more writing. It makes me hope that I haven’t lost my writing edge so completely that it may never come back.
Feeling sorry for myself seems to be what I do best these days. Why should my art escape as an excuse for my current pity party?