I’m a pretty private person. Though I blog, I rarely share much of the emotional stuff of my life. The emotional stuff, well, I dump that on a few lucky friends and in my fiction. I’ve never understood the need to post every lousy thing that happens on Facebook, to tell every person in the grocery store line my life story. That’s just not my style. I’m more of a “put on a smile and get on with things” kind of girl.
So I won’t go into details, but there have been some challenges this past year that, for the first time in my life, made me lose faith. Faith that there is a point to this writing thing. What do my attempts at storytelling matter when friends die, when a loved one is ill, when life can be so hard?
When you lose faith, when you no longer know why you write, you might as well shut down the laptop and put it in a drawer. Because when the writing no longer matters to you, then what you write will no longer matter. For several months I was in that place, spending a little time writing, but spending much more time feeling guilty about not writing. When I did write I was less than fully engaged. I had a hard time caring about my characters. My heart was not really in it.
Then I remembered Carolyn See’s book, Making a Literary Life. During the writing of that book, her love of twenty-seven years died. As she put it, “As John got worse, I couldn’t help but think: What’s the point? The finest mind and soul I’d ever known was going away. All the writing in the world wasn’t going to change that.”
She made herself write anyway. And she began to find the joy again. She likens writing to a marriage, taking it on faith that you are still in love, even when you don’t feel like you are, and working at it every day, even when you’d like to walk away. So I picked up my laptop, and I locked myself in a room, and I started typing. Nothing earth-shattering, but the more I typed, the more I remembered how much I am in love with the process, how much I love putting words together.
There will surely be times again when I ask why. Hopefully, though, when that happens, I’ll remember that I long ago committed myself to my relationship with writing, and I’ll sit down and fall in love all over again.