During my online wanderings I stumbled on this article by Candace Ganger, How I Lost and Found My Writing Groove. I enjoy stories with a personal perspective to them that’s moulded by experience, but this title in particular made me stop, as have others capping stories on the same subject.
“…the dream I’d always had, no matter what distracted me along the way, was to be an author. I’m talking NYT bestselling, critically-acclaimed, buzz-worthy kind of author. The kind of writer whose words stick with you long after you’ve finished the last page… It was more than a dream. It was my lifeline.”
I studied journalism for my first university degree, and on the first day one of the professors said all (aspiring) journalists wanted to be writers. He was neither a nice person nor a good professor, but that was a sentence that stuck with me, because I had been wondering myself whether that was true, and whether it was true for me. The conclusion I came up with was that maybe not all of them wanted to be writers, but everyone who envisioned themselves in journalism obviously wanted to be an author, to have their name attached to a storytelling result with words or images. As for me, well…still lots of thoughts on that one.
A few years later I had one of those unexpected, but hey-I-feel-this-way-too-only-I-kept-it-to-myself-until-now conversations with a mentor who had the gift of people wanting to be near him. Due to this gift of his we got to talking about writing, and since he had studied some subjects similar to mine at university, some shared views led to him observing that “writing a book” is probably on the list of most people from these academic fields, whether at the front or at the back of their minds. Most likely true, or at least statistically valid, says my general observation. While journalists certainly receive the tools to someday be able to put a book together, and academic influences sometimes predispose, writing something finished that you want to go out in to the world is by no means a predictable process. And lastly it depends on the person themselves.
Bottom line, there are a lot and a lot and a lot of people out there who think about this.
Candace Ganger depicts how she started to climb the writing ladder and later arrived at a major blockage due to a string of disappointing experiences culminating in the loss of her agent. She describes natural feelings and how she ultimately won her writing spark back: “So I picked myself back up, and I wrote. A grocery list. A short story. Anything to get my groove back. And one day, when the tears dried up and the devastation all faded, I got it.”
Simple words that echoed and made me remember. They are true. Because while I am only starting out, there was a time when I stopped writing, or stopped doing what represented to me that I was writing, at the level I was at that moment in life. Things were not like they were before. What used to come effortlessly wouldn’t. Trying to come up with ideas felt like a chore and only discouraged me. Discipline felt out of reach. The words that did come felt only wrong. And worst of all, the process of writing did not excite or take me away like it used to. Guilt was followed by mounting terror – was this it?
My epiphany was there all along, though, waiting to happen. I was detailing the above Angst in a journal, and then it hit me. I was sitting in an armchair in this very moment, writing. The notebook was almost full and I was worried the last page would not be enough to record what was flowing from my heart in to my pen. A half-finished list of books I wanted to buy, along with birthday present ideas for friends lay on the nightstand, and I remembered the scores of daily emails and messages I never stopped exchanging with family despite “not writing”. The family, by the way, just let me get on with things at my own pace. I still jotted random things down on scraps of paper and ran out of pens. Why did it take so long to realize? I guess I needed to sort through other things occupying my brain. Maybe for once that took up the space and energy otherwise used for coming up with stories or posts. But once it was done, it was over with, and it gave the writing experience a new depth, and me hopefully a new courage. Even if sometimes I was the only one reading what I came up with.
I had never stopped and realizing that fact was like a breath of fresh air after being inside too long.