Laying it on the line

I don’t remember what made me want to write.  I think it was just that I loved to read when I was younger.  I would devour books, sneaking my mom’s bodice-ripper-romance novels at 12 years old, reading one or more a week.

I remember when I wanted to become a writer.  I remember writing poems and submitting them to Teen Magazine.  I remember starting to write my first manuscript when I was around 13, poking my head out of my room long enough to ask my parents, “Is it okay to say ‘that’ twice in a row? As in, ‘He thought that that mistake had been corrected.'”

I took a couple of creative writing classes in high school.  I changed schools a couple of times, so I was able to take creative writing as an elective twice.  I remember one of my teachers, but not the other one.  The one I remember had long hair pulled into a ponytail, and one day he passed out the poem “Richard Cory” by EA Robinson.  I was the first one to finish reading it, and I gasped out loud.  He smiled.  To this day, I can still quote that poem.

I would dream of seeing my book in a bookstore, but more than that, in a library.  Any time I go to the library and walk through the fiction books, I run my finger along the spines, looking for something to read, and imagine that one day, my book will be there.  I feel the pride, the excitement, of having “made it” as a writer.

I have a huge binder filled with snippets of writing.  Scenes, ideas, random dialogue or exposition.  I’ve started seven, eight, nine manuscripts, have even gotten more than 50,000 words on three or four of those.  But I’ve never finished one.

It used to be, I didn’t have the time.  I worked, and I always said my dream was to not have to work.  Then, I was sure, I would be able to finish writing a book.

It’s been three years.  I had two and a half years of staying at home, not having to work, no baby, all the time in the world.  I still haven’t finished a book.

I’ve barely written in the last year.

I realize that the only thing holding me back is excuses, I certainly don’t need anyone pointing that out to me.  The baby keeps me busy, there’s always housework to do, and I refuse to give up any sleep at this point.  When given a choice between reading my blog feed or writing, I read my blog feed.  When given a choice between working out or writing, I choose working out.  When given a choice between spending time with my husband or writing, I choose spending time with my husband.

With the exception of reading my blog feed, all of my choices are not bad choices.  It’s good for me to work out, to spend time with my husband, to play with my baby, to cook dinner and keep the house somewhat clean, to ensure there are clean clothes and dishes and sheets on the bed. If I didn’t do those things I would not be a very good mother, wife, person.  “Sorry, honey, I know we haven’t seen each other all day, but I’m going to lock myself in the office for the next three hours.  See you this weekend!”

Excuses, I know.  Other people find time for it all.  I don’t know how, but they do it.  I keep trying.

I want to write.  I want to finish a book.  I want to query agents.  I want to get published.  Not only is this a lifelong dream, but it would mean I could continue to stay home with Baby J (soon to be Toddler J) after we move back home.  I need to write.

So it’s time to rethink some things.  Rearrange my days.  Make hard choices.

But there’s another facet to the problem.  When I do sit down to write, even to blog, my brain just…stalls out.  I have a ton of blog drafts, posts I’ve started by writing down a random thought with the intention of expanding on it later when I have time, but when I sit down to do it, I just…blank.  And with only a few minutes to be creative before the baby wakes up from his nap, I end up in a cycle of random thought followed by inability to elaborate on it followed by inability to attempt to elaborate on it.

See there, another excuse.

All this inability to write and knowing all along that I could have done it, if it weren’t for laziness or excuses, does not make me feel good.  It makes me feel…well, lazy.  It makes me feel like I’m failing, not just failing as a writer but failing as a person.  I’m letting myself down, and I feel like I’m also letting my husband down.  And then people I know ask me how the writing is going and I just…I just want to cry.  Because it’s not going.  I suck.  I’m not a writer.  Writers write.  And that feeling of failure just makes writing more difficult.

I’m working on all of this.  I’m working on finding making time in my day to write.  I will finish a book this year.

You’ll notice that comments for this post are closed.  I don’t want platitudes or well-intentioned advice or ill-intentioned snideness.  I just needed to put this out there.


Categories: On Writing, Writer Sara Johnson | Tags: ,

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