Writing is My Unreliable Lover

Writing_BlogI am a fitful writer. I am happiest when I write, but I often don’t write for weeks, even months at a time. During those times, I can feel myself losing grip of my art, my light, my happiness. I doubt my work. Then life takes over, and I let it. I’ll reorganize the entire house, clean the windows, wipe the baseboards, visit the grocery and hardware stores, take the kids on an all-day outing. I pretend it’s fine; life is just busy. The truth is that life is busy. But it’s not fine. Not writing is like telling my lover it’s okay for him to leave for a month and not call or write. I tell him, “I can keep busy. It’s okay, I’ll be fine.”

No. I won’t.

Well-meaning friends have proposed that writing in fits and starts is just how I work. I have fruitful periods and barren periods. Sometimes the muse just isn’t there. Well, screw that. My testy muse is an unreliable bitch and I need to find a way to forge on without her.

This last week, for the first time in over a decade, I considered giving up writing. I have a full memoir manuscript begging me from the shelf to just finish her, revise her, connect a few more dots. It’s an incredible story of faith and love and magic. And I sat around this week and said out loud, tears rolling down my cheeks, “It’s a stupid idea. I don’t even know why I’m writing it.”

Of course, the little honest bird in my heart knew that this was ridiculous, just a toe-dip into despair to see how it felt to give up. It was a reaching down, a superficial effort to hit bottom so I could sit down at the god-blessed computer and write something.

I guess it worked, because here I am. But I’m exhausted. I’m wet and worn like a twisted rag. I feel the pull, right this very second, to drift to my bed and take a nap. But with each word I type, I’m pushing away the blank page, trying to stare down the dark place, fists raised for a fight.

Published by

juliebarton

I'm a writer and mom living in Northern California, author of the New York Times Bestselling memoir, Dog Medicine, How My Dog Saved Me From Myself

6 thoughts on “Writing is My Unreliable Lover

  1. Julie, this is fantastic and an inspiration to me. I can list many of the same tasks that I allow to keep me from painting and I am great at telling myself that life is busy. Your first paragraph says it so well and I love the part about the about your muse, the testy bitch. I also need to ignore the unreliable belief that I can paint, especially when doubt is encouraging me to clean yet another light switch, and ignore the doubt and just sit down It helps when I tell myself that I am just playing at art. Then the need to be perfect doesn’t get in my way. Your post is so “on point” and so human. Keep up the fight because the world needs to hear your voice. It is such a beautiful one. Anne McNealey Larris

  2. I love this post! It’s so raw and honest. There are a number of lines I’d like to put up over my desk. Sometimes writing just plain sucks. Why not admit it? Well, most of us don’t admit it. Bravo for speaking the dark truths every writer knows.

  3. I love this post! It’s so raw and honest. There are a number of lines I’d like to put up over my desk. Sometimes writing just plain sucks. Why not admit it? Well, most of us don’t admit it. Bravo for daring to speak the dark truths every writer knows.

  4. I checked your writing site yesterday and there was nothing new. I thought “I wonder where she’s been.” Aha! Now I know. Glad you are back.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s