I had an unusual experience yesterday. And the day before. But it didn’t make sense to me until today. This evening to be precise.
Yesterday, I flew back home from attending Nationals in Orlando. Have to say that I was ever so glad to make it home. Ever so glad. And that my home and family were in one piece when I made it home–and yes, I am very grateful and thankful for that. (Especially considering that the last time I went to Orlando–back in March–the hot water heater burst and my dog had a booboo that had me worried the whole trip. But that was another blog post.)
Back to my original post idea… on Saturday evening, while at the conference, I got angry. At myself. And the frustration of being angry at myself made my cup over flow and… well, that was just about the only thing that was flowing for me. Because the words were certainly NOT flowing. So I got angry. Because the words weren’t flowing for me. I have these incredible ideas and… nada, nothing, zilch, no words would flow to describe the pictures in my head.
Now I have to say that I am not a quitter. I never have been a quitter. I am one of those strong willed, determined critters in this world who when the going gets tough… well, I just get tougher and force my way through it. (Just like I did when 8 years ago I had to start all over again with nothing but two suitcases, a truck, a dog, and (at the time) an almost 18 month old daughter. And I did it with style, grace, and panache… and went back to school and got my degrees. 8 years later, I’ve got a home filled with the love from the same dog and daughter–oh and 2 trucks and 1 toy car that’s a convertible.) Sufficed to say, I’m not afraid of hardwork. I love working hard and absolutely love seeing a plan/job/project come together and get completed. (Just ask anyone I work with at the mundane job.)
So back to the words weren’t flowing for me. They weren’t just NOT flowing. I don’t know how to describe it–other than to say… I couldn’t connect to any of the characters. I could glimpse the ideas and the characters but their words danced just out of my reach and… sigh. Now for anyone who has ever gone through this, I’m sure you’ve googled enough websites that deal with writer’s block to have read the advice that says… get your butt in that chair, put your hands on the keyboard, and write. Force yourself to write through it. Even if it’s crap. Just write your way through it. And I gotta say that that methodology works for a lot of people. But there is a small percentage of people in the world that it does NOT work for.
And I am one of those people. As much as I loathe to admit it.
Why doesn’t it work for me? Because there is an emotional issue that I have yet to deal with. It’s an emotional issue that I have been dancing around for the past 12 years–since the last time that the words flowed so freely for me and I wrote like a crazed banshee on creative crack. And that emotional issue is… as far as I can determine… that I am afraid to let go and let my mind dive into the warm, creative world that my muse has constructed for me. It’s the same issue that locks my muscles and makes me nearly pass out from exhaustion the second I begin to connect to my characters. For 12 years I have dealt with this. And for 12 years I have refused to give in to it. For 12 years I have marched my butt to the computer and forced myself to write something on one of the stories in my head. And for 12 years, I swallowed the frustration of not fully connecting to the stories playing out on the silver screen in my demented brain.
Until this past Saturday. Yep, that’s right. You guessed it. This past Saturday, I announced to a writer friend–right after leaving the awards ceremony that I quit. I gave up on my dream of writing. And as I said it, tears poured steadily down my face. Not those sobbing kind of tears–nope, these were those scary, ohmigod, she’s so calm and resigned and… 2 hours worth of tears. And at the end, I said, I am done. If the powers that be want me to write so bad that they’re willing to fill my head with these incredible storylines, then they can send me a sign or help to break through this emotional block that (at that point in time) I couldn’t identify.
Can I just say that after the crying, I was calm. Uber, scary calm. And whenever I made the statement to the next person who asked or who I informed of my decision that the same sad and resigned tears started up again. It’s not what I want to do. It’s not. But I could not continue to beat my head against that emotional wall anymore. My well had finally run dry and I wasn’t so chocked full of pride that I was afraid to admit it. And yeah, I hated admitting it, but I had to. For my health and sanity.
But that wasn’t the end of it. Oh no, by no means was that the end. It was just the beginning. The beginning of my sojourn into the valley of shadows.
The next day (Sunday) when I got home with my daughter–I was ready to pack up the writing books, box up the journals and notebooks that hold my story notes, and veg in front of the TV. But duty called and I had to take the dog out and… the next thing I knew, the kind neighbor who’d mowed my lawn while I was gone and who happens to also be a preacher stopped by to ask if I was doing okay. Fifteen minutes later, he knew everything about why I had announced that I quit writing. He also recognized that my well was dry and… in dire need of replenishing. So he asked if he could pray for me–even though he knows that I am not a follower of his particular brand of faith–and, me being me, I agreed to it. Then he asked me a question… if you could ask for any one thing from God in this prayer, what would it be?
His reaction to what I asked for actually shocked me–a little–and made me wonder just what people usually ask him to pray for for them. Because I said to him… all I want is a sign or a message on how to work my way out of this emotional state/place/funk I’m in. What can I do to help myself to get free of this emotional blockage? What lesson or message do I need to learn or hear/see/acknowledge to open myself up to write the stories and find my happy place again? After explaining my wish to him, he prayed for me. Then in further conversation he said… though I walk through the valley of the shadow… and that was all I heard–because that summed up how I have been feeling about writing for the past 12 years. Stuck in the valley of shadows.
And then today happened. And one of my best buds in the whole, freaking, wide world… sent me a note that reminded me of something. She reminded me of a tool that I already have at my disposal. A tool that worked for me in the past. A tool that I used around this time last year to open up the connection to my all knowing, all wonderful muse. I haven’t used this tool yet today, but it’ll happen. Once the house calms down enough and I’m in the right place to allow myself to use it.
But I had to post this post… because I have to wonder if there are any other writers out there who have ever felt like you’re stuck in the valley of shadows–where there are no words, but ideas for story after story are pouring down all around you… slowly driving you insane, because you can’t find the right way to connect to them to share them with the world that you know is eager to read them.
Oh and the other reason for this post is that I simply must say… THANK YOU, SANDRA! (hehe, now tell me, how does it feel to be a messenger from a divine source?)
Until next time…