Joe and I have lived in our apartment together for almost 10 years (he lived here 4 years before I moved in) and periodically, we rearrange the furniture. We love it. It makes the apartment feel brand new. It may seem like a stretch, but when I was thinking about my writing the other day, and how much I have been floundering, I drew a parallel in my mind to rearranging the furniture. When Joe and I start feeling a bit stuck in our apartment, we move things around and clean inside corners that have been long ignored, and we both feel refreshed. Our most recent rearrange was to move Joe’s desk into our second bedroom, creating an office for him, which means our formerly shared space (what is meant to be a dining area) has become mine. We were both excited for the change, but (here is where the writing connection comes in) it also ended up shining a light on how much I haven’t been writing.
I know other writers who produce work like crazy; 4 poems in a day, 78 poems in a month (this is not an exaggeration), a pamphlet or chapbook every year for the last 5 years. I maybe wrote 10 new poems in the whole of last year. I have gone back and forth between beating myself up for my lack of productivity and accepting that I am just not a very prolific writer. Both sides of this coin are bullshit. Although I don’t think I will ever be a 4 poems a day kind of person, I could be writing a lot more than I do. I tend to write poems and then spend years editing them, each time a poem get’s rejected I edit like mad, and the new poems are then very few and very far between. If it weren’t for Visual Verse, I may not write anything new at all. I don’t feel like a writer. I feel like a fraud.
The whole fraud complex is not new, nor is it rare for writers to feel this way, but my recent feelings of inauthenticity have led me to remember some sage advice I got from a friend years ago. I had been writing (not really) my blog for a few years, but was posting very infrequently and feeling zero motivation. I was lost. This wise friend suggested that I step away from the blog and start writing poetry again, which was always my first passion as a writer. I took her advice and dusted off some old poems and started writing some new ones and then sent out my work and started getting published, and subsequently started writing much more regularly here on my blog, and for the first time in decades, felt like a writer. I found an amazing community of poets and writers and felt like a part of something truly special. It was great.
So, what happened? The truth is, a lot has happened, is happening and will happen, but it doesn’t matter. What matters is that I find a path to being the kind of writer I want to be. I know that path will change and curve and look different at different times of my life, but no matter the terrain, I owe it to myself to pay attention to it. I have written before about behaving in absolutes; all in or all out. I am not good at moderation. I have to face that part of what is behind my not writing is that I have become consumed by all of the amazing things that come with being part of a virtual writing community. It makes me feel as if I am out there living life, but in truth, it is a perfect safe haven for someone like me, who is prone to cutting themself off from the physical world. It is also an excuse to put off my own writing. I have found myself spending more time reading other’s writing, which is a pleasure, rather than working on my own, which scares the crap out of me. I am afraid that if I step back, even a little, from the blog world, I will miss so much, but in being so consumed by it, I am missing a lot in the spaces of my day-to-day life. I am inspired by being a part of this amazing world, but I am not putting that inspiration into my own creative output. I am also afraid of not being supportive enough, of being forgotten, of looking like an asshole for using my blog as a tool for self promotion, and of finding out that I don’t really have what it takes to be a real writer, a writer who actually produces. I came into this year, determined to find balance, but I am failing.
So, how do I fix this? I think it’s simple. I put on my big girl pants, and smash the hell out of the fear voice, and do something that is really fucking hard for me to do. Prioritize myself. Give myself the chance to be the writer I want to be. Find out if I can. I have been wanting to delve into writing more fiction, and even gotten help from some amazing teachers (you know who you are). I want to write more new poetry and not just edit. I want to give time and care to my writing, to see if I can grow or if I have given the best of what I can give. Instead, I have been frozen. I am terrified of failing, of hurting people by not being there for them, of severing ties that have become so important to me. But, I have to get unstuck. I have to try. I have to forge ahead and find out. I have to shed the skin of fear, self-abuse and complacency, and find out what I can be beyond the fog I tuck myself into so comfortably.
I don’t know what this means for the blog. I know I am not disappearing. I love this place. I may write a post tomorrow or next week or next month. I may spend tomorrow reading other blogs and I may not read any blog posts for weeks. I just don’t know. What I do know, in terms of the future of “Stories from the Edge of Blindness”, is that I have books to read, written by friends I have made through my blog, and that I want to review here. I have 2 guest posts (a first for my blog) coming up sometime in the next month or 2. I will keep sharing poetry. And, most importantly, this place and all of the amazing and inspiring people I have met here, has changed the shape of my writing life. Being a part of this community has opened up my mind and my heart in ways I never expected. I am not letting that go. Perhaps just loosening my grip a little bit.