Thursday, March 10, 2011

Writing out the Storm

One of my many journals --
my dad actually made the collage on the front,
and also bound this one for me
I've had a bit of writer's block lately.  I never knew this actually existed, but, let me tell you, it does.  First of all, I started to get so damn sick of myself I could barely take it.  I mean, all my stories are about, well, me.  I've kind of been ruminating and mulling, "Am I being obnoxious?  Who do I think I am -- Paris Hilton or something? (I actually think I just choked on my Triscuit.)"  But part of the problem is, I can't really write too much about other people without them getting totally offended and irritated that I am putting their personal business onto the World Wide Web.  So I do have to be careful.

Then another thing happened.  I started reading other blogs -- the famous ones.  They were either about really global and political issues, or else they were hysterical comedic social satire, and they had, like, 50,000 followers each.  OK, so then I got intimidated.  But here's the thing: I'm not really all that political, and maybe just a little bit funny, sometimes more than others.  I also have three very demanding and hungry children, and I don't have nearly as much time to write as I would like (even though I shoo them away daily, saying, "Not now, Mommy's working."  Their response to this goes something as follows: "MOM!  You don't work.  Can we have some marshmallows, and then can we go to a laundromat because Kevin's mom goes to a laundromat and we want to go to one too?!  It's not fair!")

What's also kind of weird is that all of a sudden blogging is trendy.  I didn't start this thing so I could say I ride the blogadocious wave, I actually started doing it as a creative outlet.  Part of me feels defiant and contrarian (I love that word!) about this blog trend, because I pride myself on being unique and original.  But a larger part of me enjoys the expression and creativity of writing these stories, and so I'll inevitably continue.

As for the history of my scribing, I've always written here and there, sporadically and not very seriously.  When I was in elementary school I would write little picture books and my dad would help me bind them, and a couple of times I even won prizes when I submitted them to the county book fairs.  My personal favorite of these is a particular gem called, "The Leaning Tower of Peas."  You can pretty much figure out what the book was about by this incredibly clever and witty title.  Subject matter never was my strong suit.

Then in high school I started to write more, and this included poetry, as well as stories and essays.  I had this maniacal English teacher who ranted and raved at us like nobody's business.  He pressed us to write, and write more and write better and write like you're on your deathbed and dying and these are the last words you're ever going to convey to the world!  Yikes!  In hindsight, he was definitely a bit of a nutbag, but at the time I absolutely worshipped him.  (I even went on a date with him after I graduated college, but that was just a really bad idea.)  Looking back, though, he was the first person to get me thinking and excited about writing, and I suppose that's the sign of a truly great teacher.

Skip to college, and I started keeping journals.  The problem was, I wasn't honest in my journals.  I was writing them as if I was writing for somebody else to read them -- I was never just writing for myself.  I was also very unhappy during this period of my life, and I had definitely chosen the wrong school for myself (probably another post later).  So I had all this pent up emotion and frustration, but instead of getting it out and releasing it in my journals, I would lie to myself, and not write down what I really did, or what I really felt, and only make a terrible situation worse.  It is hard to be honest with one's self, I understand that.  I'm especially learning that now, with this blog.  Looking inward and totally admitting the truth to yourself is never easy, but being able to admit that truth and write it down is actually cleansing -- for me, anyway.

After I graduated college and was working in public relations, I found myself consistently writing press releases and celebrity bios.  This was a fast-paced kind of writing, and I was whipping out these press materials like hotcakes.  It wasn't therapeutic or anything, but it was fun.  Of course, I never learned how to type the real way (I despised typing in high school!), so I would frenetically hunt and peck at the keyboard at a shocking pace -- it's like my fingers were miniature beings with totally independent lives of their own.  (Thinking about this, I have come to the following conclusion: Pointer is a high-strung teenage girl, Middle Finger's the dad, Ring Finger's the pretty and ladylike mom, and Pinky's the baby.  Oh, and Thumb is a 9-year-old boy.  My little finger family.  Sweet.)

Anyway, fast forward 15 years, a move, a marriage, and 3 kids later, and I'm back to where I started, writing little yarns like I did in elementary school.  And while I may not ask my dad to bind my stories, I do still sometimes struggle with subject matter (when this happens I desperately look around me for things to write about.  This is often the dialogue I have with myself:  "Are street signs interesting?  Um, no...  Are trees interesting?  OK, still no.  Are flip flops interesting?..."  And so on and so forth.  This can seriously take hours out of my day.)  But the internal honesty, forthrightness, and creativity I experience with my writing make it all worth it, and are gifts in and of themselves. 

So maybe with this post, my annoying writer's block will become unblocked -- or maybe not, in which case you will shortly be privy to a disarming new narrative entitled, "The Leaning Tower of Peas, Part 2 -- The Legume Years."

I am definitely losing it.


  1. Another absolutely fabulous blogolicous blog! I love your writing, and I bet you don't know that I have a framed short story you wrote as a young girl hanging in my studio. It is called, "My Favorite Things." You were born to be a writer! How about writing a blog for my for my 50th birthday. I promise I wont get upset if you make fun of me.

  2. Such a great one...witty, fun, and all done in a way that we know you just a little bit better. Love you and keep them coming!

  3. Sarah,
    You are definitely NOT losing it! It is so inspirational to watch you go through this process. You make me want to become a writer or at least write enough to give myself that title. Sarah, YOU are a writer!

  4. What a wonderful gift you have,thank you for sharing yourself with others and me.You inspire.

  5. I know exactly what english teacher you were talking about (we nicknamed him his last name (I won't say) Bolten- I am sure you know why).
    He was good, so why the hell was he teaching at Nordhoff?!

    I really enjoy your blogs, so I hope you don't have writers block for long.