I wrote The Letter No One Wrote My Mother many months before publishing it here. It was a private piece, a letter specific to the situation of a friend. I wrote it and I shared it with her, then I sat on it, afraid of how big it felt. I knew it was a piece that could help others, but to speak up was forbidden since childhood. The irony was not lost on me: that I was able to plead authentically with a friend that she change her situation, but not
A main struggle I face as a writer is letting go. Sitting down to write has become easy. I have trained myself to get words on the page. But writing authentically, giving value to words and recording or creating a story with integrity–well, I know writers who seem to have mastered that skill. I imagine them at their writing tables in a state of flow, madly scratching out words as effortlessly as they breathe. It doesn’t happen that way for me. Much of the time, writing is like pulling teeth.
It took me ten years to work up the courage to write about my childhood. In that time, I explored every field except nonfiction, earning an MFA in Creative Writing (Fiction) with a thesis my husband describes as “stories in which girls don’t act quite the way they should”. Fiction was a safety net-a space where I could address my sexual, physical and emotional fears without honestly admitting to them. During workshops of my short stories, I often felt personally attacked as my writing was critiqued. While my peers were
Most of my work ends up frozen forever in the limbo just before the final draft. I never seem to take that step of polishing a piece until it shines, all its complications in place for the reader’s pleasure. I have a fear of commitment. If the story is done, the time has come to send it out to people who are not my friends, from whom honesty is not so easy to accept. I have several writing goals this year. Among them is actually submitting my work. I don’t
I am inhabiting my writer self these days. It feels like slipping under warm blankets at the end of a cold day. I had forgotten the spread of it, the cascade effect, how if you love writing it is better than chocolate and it begets more writing. Some may imagine themselves awash in a sea of money. I prefer the heavenly float of words on paper, and that feeling of trying and continuing even when you have no specific place you are going. You simply go. *** If