Sunday, March 11, 2012

Reflection: My Writing Journey


Disclaimer: This is a stream of consciousness (rambling) piece so I hope it will make sense to readers.

I've been thinking a lot about writing. In fact, I've thought about writing most of my life. From the time I was very young, I would make up little songs and carry them in my head. I never wrote them down on paper. Reading and writing were not valued in the world I grew up in. When my sons were born, I read to them every day and fell in love with picture books.  I wanted to try to write one, but I was raising my sons, going to college, and working full time.  I decided writing would have to wait for that time known as  Someday.

When I started teaching, I wrote stories and poems to use in my classroom. I went to every workshop on writing I could: Donald Graves, Ralph Fletcher, Shelley Harwayne... , and I read dozens of books on teaching writing.  I loved to write and somehow found time to do it.  This was pre-internet and home computer days. I wrote longhand then typed my stories and poems on  a computer at school  My students encouraged me to send my poems out to try to get them published. Amazingly, some of them did get published. I even became a contributing editor to a small publication for teachers. I wrote a poem and a monthly column. I didn't get paid, but it wasn't about money. Writing was fun, and I looked forward to it.   I earned my living as a teaxcher so publication was exciting but not my main objective. I wrote to model for my students, and I wrote about topics I was teaching to help my them learn.

Then came the internet and Facebook.  I started reading about the success other writers were having. I felt like I should be doing more, maybe I was a little jealous of them for making more of an effort than I had.  About the same time, I went through a divorce.  My sons were grown, out of college and on their own. I no longer felt there was purpose or meaning in my life. I sunk into a deep depression and held a daily pity-party for myself. I no longer knew who I was or what my life was about.

Suddenly, publication seemed very important. I felt like I was missing something. Having a book published became my goal (obsession), but I decided I needed first to take classes to learn how to write. So, I took class after class and read every how-to write book I could get my hands on. I worked on each assignment revising and revising until I was exhausted and lost all passion for it. I questioned the value of every thing I wrote and lost all confidence in my writing.  Rejections, lots and lots of rejections were delivered to my mail box.  I began to realize just how bad my writing was. There are so many great writers out there who are masters who can write much better than I can.  It must have been a fluke that I was ever published at all. I stopped submiting and hid inside my journal.

Guess what? It didn't take long until writing became fun again. It was safe with no one to judge me, no one to reject me. Now I started writing for my students again, and once in a while, I'll send something out.  I expect to be rejected while hoping that just maybe I wrote something worth publishing.  I wish I could say that I'm over the whole publishing thing, but I can't let it go.  It's not about fame or fortune. I think it's more about acceptance and having someone saying that my words mean something.   Maybe it's also about leaving part of myself behind. I'm nearing retirement age and time is running out. My mother had a dream that she never acted on, I worry I won't figure this out in time.  Sometimes, I wish I could walk away from it and find another passion, another dream. Why won't this writing dream let go?  If I were meant to be a writer, why don't I know where I fit?

It's embarrssing to admit that publication became more important than writing. I'm trying to find my place (if I have one) in the world of writing. I'm hoping this SOL challenge will help me find some answers.

4 comments:

  1. I really like the stream of consciousness nature of this, and even more the reflection on your journey (so far!) as a writer. I'm glad you wrote this and even more glad I read it.

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  2. Linda,
    Thank you for sharing this -- for being so raw and genuine. The line: "I stopped submitting and hid inside my journal," is powerful for me as a reader. I'm glad you're writing this month with us, and I hope you find purpose in your writing life.
    Ruth

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  3. The SOL really allows you a platform to take your writing public, and you get both exposure to other writers as well as feedback. I know what you mean about leaving something behind - some written work that you can feel really accomplished about. I think this is a journey we are all on, and I've come to value the process much more than the end product. Each slice or journal entry or something else that I work on is just one more step in that process. And thank you for this honest take on writing!

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  4. I am glad you are doing the SOLC and will continue on Tuesdays. Your writing is so genuine; thank you for sharing with us. Be encouraged. Your writing does mean something. It's valuable. It's interesting that you find joy in writing in your journal. May your students continue to encourage you as well.

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