We’ve done a good job of making ourselves develop a routine and that routine has really helped me get into a writing groove of sorts. Not to where I want to be, but much improved over the months before we moved. And then this week happened.
Since we moved to a whole new state, we needed to take care of changing our residency to our new state. That doesn’t sound that complicated on the surface. It turned out to be an all day affair just to get our driver’s licenses switched over. Then the next day was 4th of July and we had friends coming to visit, so we wanted to make sure we were ready for that and I needed a bit of recovery time from our all day adventure (pregnant women moving into their third trimester should NOT go almost 8 hours without eating!). Then we needed recovery time from getting to bed later than normal and getting up earlier than normal and there were more residency things to work out that took most of the day. But we were at least able to get food at reasonable intervals. So, finally I am writing again.
It was a short disappearing act this time. But it left me time to consider why I originally disappeared from writing altogether. I didn’t even really write for myself. Not even journaling consistently. And it was spread out over many years.
Take a little trip through time with me…
Back when I was in second grade, I had the privilege to be part of a group tutored by the high school English teacher at my school. (I went to a really small school) At the time, I didn’t think a whole lot about it, but that dear lady and I developed a good relationship in those months and that continued for a long time. When I entered junior high and she became my English teacher, that relationship grew. I’d loved writing since I was a little kid and being tight with her really influenced my joy in writing until one day something happened that never had before.
I MAJORLY bombed an English grammar assignment. I don’t remember what my exact score on it was, but it was terrible. I’d been a good student most of my school career (once my mom figured out what motivated me to finish my work), and I was a good writer, so to absolute fail was devastating to me and confused my English teacher and my parents. And me. To this day, I don’t really know what happened except that I truly was just plain lost on the mechanics of what I naturally put into practice in writing.
I thought this would be the end of any hope of writing for me, but this dear lady worked hard with me and let me redo the assignment, taking it one step at a time with me. It was a very lengthy assignment, which was another reason failing it was so devastating. It meant I really didn’t understand otherwise I would have been able to get quite a bit wrong and still do sort of okay.
Once I developed a better understanding of what I was doing, I flourished in the class and really came to enjoy English grammar. What seemed like an opportunity to fall completely apart turned into a major boost in my writing career. And I fell more deeply in love with writing, willingly sharing my work with this teacher and others. It was still scary at times, but she always encouraged me, pushed me, helped me. Aside from my parents, she was probably my biggest fan.
When I went away to college, we kept in touch. I shared with her more of my writing. She helped me edit many things that I wrote for classes as well as just for myself. I journaled daily. Every chance I got, I sat down and wrote. I looked around for everything to write about.
And then my senior year, on my birthday, I missed a call from her. She was in the hospital with cancer, but she remembered my birthday and she called me to wish me a happy birthday. I kept forgetting to call her back and thank her. To talk to her like we always had. And not too long after, my mom called me. As soon as I saw her name pop up on my phone I knew something was wrong. I will never forget that moment in the cafeteria with a group of friends. My world stopped. My dear teacher, friend, mentor, had died. I was supposed to be going to a worship service that night and I really wasn’t sure I could handle it. My roommate decided instead of going to a different service that night she would come with me if that would help me go to mine. It was a great encouragement, but my heart still hurt.
And the writing died.
It wasn’t that there weren’t still things to write. There were so many. The break after my friend died, I managed to write the rough draft of an entire book. My first time ever accomplishing something like that. To this day, more than 10 years later, it remains unpublished. I’ve worked on editing it in fits and starts. But I just can’t bring myself to do anything with it. It’s good work. But I don’t have anyone to fill the gap left by my dear English teacher. She was my editor in every way. Style. Content. Grammar. Plot. Everything. She was kind enough and patient enough that she could tell me what worked and what didn’t without making me feel like a piece of me had been assaulted. We had a relationship of trust built on the back of that failed assignment. And without her, there hasn’t been anyone to fill that gap. No one who has been able to balance out pushing me to do my best and get it done with encouragement to enjoy the process not make it a job.
It’s been like a perpetual state of writer’s block. And as time has gone on, there has been greater fear of sharing my writing, of pushing to the point of publishing something. The desire is there; it still exists, almost stronger now because of how much I want to honor the memory of a friend. But I just don’t have that editor, friend, mentor anymore. And I disappeared into the gap.
My husband has kindly walked beside me in this effort of mine to throw caution to the wind and put my writing out there again. It’s a hard, hard journey. To convince myself to write even a blog a day and post it is exhausting. But more and more lately, I realize that God has given me a story to share and I need to do it. If all I manage is to encourage one person, then it is enough.
I don’t advocate for blindly chasing your dreams. Some dreams aren’t good. It’s not my place to decide for you whether your dream is good or bad; that’s something to determine based on Biblical principles. But I do know that letting go of a dream just because of fear and difficulty is not the way to go. Fear of failing isn’t worthy of your time. I failed once, big time, only to find it the catalyst to a great friendship and a growing love of the written word. (To be clear, I fail all the time, but I can specifically point to this one failure as an example of how what we see as a huge ordeal can actually turn out to be a great good.)
I’m not doing this perfectly. But taking it one step at a time has definitely started to make a difference. Even on the days where I didn’t write, I was contemplating what to write. Forming stories and outlines in my head as I went about my day. I’m trying to bring myself back to what I have long loved because disappearing was not the way to deal with this loss.