“The mind of a writer can be a truly terrifying thing – isolated, neurotic, caffeine-addled, crippled by procrastination, consumed by feelings of panic, self-loathing, and soul-crushing inadequacy. And that’s on a good day.”
Robert De Niro, at the 86th Annual Academy Awards, March 2014
It’s embarrassing, really. A writer’s blog that sits unused and stagnant for a stretch of time – days. Weeks. Months.
Oh, if I had a nickel for every time I mentally blogged… Mental blogging gets you nowhere, but it’s safe. Safe in that I can think-blog anything I want without the prospect of harsh criticism. Because *that* is one of my biggest fears: That I will write something – creative or personal opinion – and it will be met with dissent. Even worse, it would be dissected and scrutinized, leading readers to conclude, “Wow. She’s wasting her time, because clearly, she cannot write. She’s just not good.”
De Niro’s quote above could not ring more true. At least for me, anyway. But there’s another quote that snaps me back to reality:
“It’s a dreadful shame how many wonderful books we will not be able to read because someone gave up on their dream too soon.”
Sue-Ellen Welfonder, romance author
It’s funny. That quote has been in my writing journal for over 15 years. I see it every time I open it up, and it never fails to make me feel sheepish for being so quick to push my passion for writing to the side. There’s always something that nudges writing further down the list of priorities, and some rightfully so – family and work leading the charge. But the other distractions need a good, hard smack-down. If I can sit and scroll Facebook for a collective 30-45 minutes in the evening, I surely can replace it with writing.
Sometimes, when I do sit down… hands on the keyboard… all the thoughts that had flowed so freely during the previous 12 hours suddenly end up in a huge mental log-jam. All the funny, strange and weird observations I’d collected suddenly don’t seen worthy or interesting. I stare at the blank screen for a few minutes, fingers still, then close the Word document and go transfer yet another load of laundry. Yet again, I’ve failed to conquer the blank screen.
I’ve had a host of epiphanies over the past several years, where I kind of pull myself together and try to refocus on writing and pursuing my dream. However, with the kids at the ages they were, it was an impractical decision. Now, though, with the older kids are more self-sufficient and the youngest navigating the waters of Kindergarten, they’re all gaining new skills and independence every single day. It’s a beautiful thing to watch our little one’s mind work in new ways, proactively discovering and exploring the world around him. This new independence also allows my husband and I to have a little bit more autonomy over our free time. Not a lot, but enough. Enough to prompt a recent purge of my extracurricular commitments, leaving only those that are directly related to my family.
So, now I find myself with a bit more of a clean slate and a renewed dream. And a little more time to pep-talk myself into conquering the blank screen.