I’m writing this post in response to Angela’s blog post over here about why most people quit writing and why you shouldn’t.
I’ll be honest, I did quit writing. For a very long time, I couldn’t bear to look at a blank page or a computer screen. The thought of having to commit anything to any medium where it could be remembered made me shake with anxiety. I took creative writing classes in college to force myself to move through this fear. Every time I had to read something I’d written in class, I had to run to the bathroom to throw up. I got a degree in English Literature where I had to write essays and I ended up pouring parts of myself into them because I couldn’t not. I couldn’t write them sober, though. It hurt too much to be aware of what I was writing, that I was writing.
I gave up writing because I was afraid I was going to become an alcoholic.
It felt so good to write, though.
I started sewing because I refused to write. I took beautiful, luxurious fabrics and gave them a shape and a purpose. I created order from chaos and gave the fabrics I chose a purpose beyond just themselves. They were lovely to look at and a joy to wear. Just thinking about it makes me want to pull out the rose crepe I have and turn it into something, a dress or a shirt, perhaps.
Writing is the same thing. There’s a release, a high, that comes to giving form to the lovely places I can see in my head. I love the image of Joan Wilder in Romancing the Stone as she weeps writing the final scene of her latest novel. It’s cathartic and terrifying to write the words “The End” when the story is finished. You’re letting go, even if just for a little while, of those characters you spent so much time with and came to love.
I mourned my writing, even when I couldn’t stand to do it. There finally came a day when I had to look at myself in the mirror and say “You can blame whatever issues you have on your family but you can only blame yourself for not getting over them. You are a grownup. If you want to do this, do it, and don’t become Hemingway.”
So, this is why I write. I give form and voice to worlds that nobody else can see. I pour a little bit of myself into the book so it comes alive for anybody who reads it.
Writing is hard. So is rejection and fear. But it’s worth it.