It’s 7:50 AM, and I’m enjoying my fourth day of my eight day “stay-ca.” Sitting at my desk with my coffee, listening to Milky Chance’s, ”Stolen Dance,” and organizing my day in my head.
I took PTO in order to throw myself back into my writing. It was probably one of the best decisions I’ve made, in a long time. Unlike, say, dumping my old blog in an attempt to begin anew. (Sometimes, a symbolic gesture isn’t all it’s cracked up to be… just sayin’.) Now, I have 0 followers. We live and learn. But, I digress.
As I sat down to post this morning, I began to think of all the reasons I set aside my writing, some years ago. Now, I have always felt I was still a writer, in some aspects. I kept a writer’s blog (on occasion), I kept a sparse journal, I plotted scenes and dialogue in my head. I can’t remember a day that went by that I didn’t yearn to be a writer. It felt something like when I was living elsewhere. I’m a Native Floridian, water-baby, and beach lover. But, my hubby’s profession took us away for nine years. I was land-locked for all of that time, and although I tried, with some success, to adapt to my life in these various locations, I knew I was a Floridian, and a southerner, at heart.
Some of my dearest friends are in other states. But, my life and my breathe, were in Florida. In all those years, I was who I was, no matter what state I lived in. (And, I lived in some pretty hip and cool places!) So, even in the winters while I was dressed in garb that was more fitting for Eskimos (and wore it damn well) I longed for the bikini with the crocheted cover up and flip flops. As breathtaking as the Pocono landscape was during the changes of seasons, I grieved for the ever constant roar of the ocean and the air seasoned with salt. I was a Floridian. Location didn’t change who I was.
We hear, so often that, “writers write!” Yes, that’s very true. But, what if you’re not currently writing? Does that change who you are? Will you allow your current circumstances to determine your identity? That’s the danger. I had circumstances arise that caused me difficulty in continuing with the writing process. I put my manuscript and WIPs in the drawer (figuratively speaking, as they’re on my computer) and moved on to more pressing issues. Then, a year later, I felt awful for having done that. I felt guilt. I had thrown in the proverbial towel. I was a quitter. Therefore, I was no longer a writer. Simply because, writers don’t quit.
Fast forward six years. (Yes, I know… makes me shudder.) By this time, I had completely disengaged from the writing community, took up other interests, as I had difficulty relating to my former identity. Not for a lack of desire. But, I had allowed life to get in the way. (A few more moves, cancer surgery, the necessity to return to full-time employment, personal challenges… bah waaaahh!) Well, you get the picture.
The catch is, even during those “wasted years” I never was free from an interior pull from my creative muse. She was anemic and frail. But, she still believed in me and that I could revive her. She trusted me. She always kept the hope that I would not let her die alone locked in a basement, starving and cold, with want for affection.
Three years ago, we decided that it had been long enough. We packed up and moved back to Florida. It was scary to return home after being away so long. People change, you change. Your hope is that you can find your way back to open arms and pick up, as best as you can, where you left off, so many years earlier. Some things remain the same, and others don’t. You deal. And, a few months ago, I decided the same should be done for my writing.
What price have I paid for the time I squandered? Well, my initial thoughts would have to be my lost relationships in the writing community. My lost momentum with writing 3000 words per day and my organized submission process. Being in the know of what’s going on in the industry. The loss of respect from some fellow writers (and friends) that believe I’m a quitter, and may walk away again, when times get tough.
Well, let me just say, that times are probably as difficult as they’ve ever been. Yet, I’ve looked back on the years as a learning experience. I believe I’ve grown and matured in a lot of ways. I have more to say, and the confidence to say it. I’m a little more timid in some ways, as I venture on to new writer’s forums (new to me) and put myself back out there. But, it’s good. No, it’s damn good!
Most importantly, I’ve grown as an individual. I’ve learned valuable lessons. I’ve taken responsibility for my past and have told myself, “Suck it up, Buttercup! This is your life. The good, the bad, and the questionable. And, it’s OK… move on!”
I’ve unlocked the basement of my soul and released the muse. I’ve fed her, washed her, and consoled her with the promise that I’ll not abuse her kindness in the future. I’ve learned to appreciate her and love her for her patience with me. And, in return, she’s been generous.
Now, I’m currently working on my second novel. And, as I’ve mentioned earlier, I actually took vacation time to write. If that’s not determination, I don’t know what is. Especially being that I’ve not had a real vacation in four years. I’m seriously honing my craft. I’m prioritizing. Most importantly, I’m writing.
So, was I a writer during those years in the desert? Yes… yes, I was. I am who I am, no matter what I may or may not be doing. Moving to MO didn’t make me a mid-westerner like moving to PA didn’t make me a northerner. No matter where I lived, I was a Floridian. Whether or not we stray from a path doesn’t really change our life course. We are who we are, in spite of our choices. And, the path from point A to point B is not always a straight line. All we can do is learn from our decisions.
Please understand that I’m not advocating the abandonment of your dreams when times get tough. I’m just saying that if for some reason you do, you can always return, with your identity intact. You are who you are.
I’m a writer.
P.S. If you have found this post helpful or enjoyed it in any way, please let me know. I would so appreciate it!