I took a hiatus from my group blog for several reasons – the biggest of which was the fact that after six years of weekly blogging, I felt like I’d said all there was to say. I took a nice long break from blogging entirely, occasionally putting up entries on this personal blog—news, announcements and such—and enjoyed not having the rigorous discipline of spending a full day a week on a touching, informative or funny essay.
And then I started to miss it, while going through a rather major writing crisis of sorts. I got into a slump. The scary kind.
Not the “I can’t write, words won’t come to me” slump, but a true existential crisis, “Why am I doing this?” slump.
The kind of slumps that end artistic careers.
So I shared my fears with my closest friends, who encouraged me to look to my process and suggested books and sent me all sorts of happy making things in the mail. I dove headlong into THE ARTIST’S WAY. I did all the exercises required of me. I figured out why I wanted to be a writer. Then I had a nice little breakthrough, and wrote three books in ten months.
And wouldn’t you know it, the career slump ended.
But I came out the other side not entirely sure of who I was as a writer anymore. The constant self-examination and doubt left a residual grime on my mind. Social networking exacerbated this feeling of displacement. The voice in the back of my head tried to help me fit in, but nothing worked. I tried on several hats. Tried to imitate the people I admired. None of it worked. I lost confidence in myself, again.
And then I went to California and ran into a buddy from my old group blog. We caught up for a moment, then he said, “I miss your voice on the blog.” I replied in kind. “I miss you guys, too.” And he said, “No, not like that. I miss your voice, man.”
I actually felt tears in my eyes. I know the moment my “voice” left me. I was discussing a particularly difficult blog entry and the person I was talking to said, “No one wants to be lectured to.”
Ouch. And I don’t mean pull off the band-aid ouch, I mean cut your arm open to the bone and require fifty stitches without anesthesia ouch. That kind of surreal pain that’s so horrid that afterward you can’t even remember exactly what it felt like, just that it hurt a whole damn lot.
And so I realized high school never ends, and I packed it up. Shut it down. Quit my blog. Went off to my corner and pouted.
Now, said person isn’t a writer, or even in the industry. But theirs is a voice I listen to, whether I should or not, and when I suddenly looked back on the past six years of blogging and wondered – Did people think I was lecturing them? (I hope you can hear the distaste I feel when I type that....) That single sentence clouded everything I did. Everything.
And so my world fell apart.
And that wasn’t right.
You have to be very careful what you say when you criticize an artist. It can actually permanently derail them. Whether it’s true or not doesn’t matter. It’s the idea that we’re doing something wrong that’s so frightful.
When my friend said he missed my voice, a little bit of me jumped up and said, yeah, I miss it too. I was never trying to lecture anyone. That was a thoughtless thing to say. I was working through my own problems, my issues with writing, good and bad, observations about the writing world, all that jazz. I felt like I’d gained some knowledge about the industry, and I was trying to share. The discipline of this navel-gazing kept my writing on track, fiction and non-fiction alike.
So I’m going to attempt to find that voice again. I’ll stay away from the group blog, because the structure and timing and politics don’t work for me anymore, but I’ll start talking about writing and process and such again. I’m going to shoot for a brief weekly or bi-weekly writing blog, on Fridays, like I used to.
You can help me out by leaving a comment here or there, or asking a question. Nature abhors a vacuum, remember.
Oh my. That was a bit lecture-y, wasn’t it?