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Jul 2, 2012

Frustration and Fear

I've been writing a book for about a year or so.  Several books to be honest, but one in particular.

These great ideas for characters and scenes come spilling out of me with words which, when I read back over them in places, I barely remember writing.  Some of the passages are good.  Very good. 

Most of it's babbling nonsense, stream of consciousness, disconnected and shallow.  It lacks depth, heart, work and devotion.  I write of my dreams, my fantasies as if this novel were a journal of the me I began imagining in my youth.  Struggling with a real story, a path for these poor characters to take one way or another, I just stop writing for a time.  I shrug it off as a simple, unimportant flight of fancy of a mother and wife and secretary who so desperately wishes to share something meaningful, or at the very least provide an escape for others like me. 

But it's always there waiting.  The words on the pages anticipate that I can mold them into something of substance.  And I'm letting them down.  I'm letting myself down. 

The question begs, then, if this is something that I really want to do, why aren't I doing it?

Time.  Fear.  Education. 

When does a mother of two toddlers, a wife of a deserving husband, a secretary, a friend, a daughter, an aunt, a back-up singer, a Christian, a woman who is blessed with so many cherished relationships that are so worthy of her time and energy; when does that woman have time to devote to something as selfish and consuming as writing a book?  I already have precious little time, most of which is spent with people I love doing significant things I care deeply for.  I write when I can.  But merely fitting it in here and there is not enough.  It's suffering because of it.  But better my relationships suffer for my book? 

Rich suggested a smart compromise where I wouldn't have to take time from anyone but myself, but then fear comes in.  Were I to make the time, would I fare any better?  Maybe I'm just an essay writer.  Maybe that's as far as this gift goes.  I'm afraid of revealing that.  By not giving this book the air it needs to really catch fire, there's no possibility that I might fail miserably and be forced to live with my mediocrity.  By not trying, at least I still have hope.

Beyond my beloved English/literature classes in high school, I have no education to write.  While my college education in criminal justice/criminal law has served me well thus far (note a hint of sarcasm), I'm still at a loss to fulfill my dream shared my millions - to write a novel that doesn't suck.  It's no wonder I cannot figure out a plot, create a compelling storyline, organize the thoughts that bounce around in my head or control how they come out on paper.  I don't know how.  There are books on the subject, a couple of which I've read, but they pale in comparison to a good teacher.  The chance I had in college to cast aside my fear and actually grow (see My Life as a Penguin, if you are so inclined) was wasted.  And to take a class now, well, that would take more time, now wouldn't it?

Whining...I know I'm whining. 

I am blessed.  If I can't give air to but one of my passions when I am living out so many others, then that's fine.  I'm almost embarrassed to post this when there is so much suffering and hate and ugliness in so many people's lives.  Who am I to complain about one tiny aspect of an otherwise truly blessed life?  I am grateful for everything I am and have, for everyone I love and who loves me.  I genuinely am.         

But here's the thing.  I don't want to teach my kids to fear or apologize for their passions (unless they are really twisted, in which case we'll have to involve a therapist).  I want them to live as boldly, compassionately, faithfully and grandly as the greatest expanse of their minds and hearts allow.  Whether that be lives filled with monumental dreams or simple ones, I want them to believe that those dreams are attainable.  But at what expense do I teach that lesson? 


  1. hi aunt nicole~ this is brittany.

    i understand as much as i can what you are saying here. i can relate to a lot of it. i'm not phenomenal with advice (and it's usually unwanted anyway), so here are some inspirational quotes regarding writing that i really like:

    “Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t ‘try’ to do things. You simply ‘must’ do things.” –Ray Bradbury

    “You must write every single day of your life. . . May you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.” –Ray Bradbury

    “Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It’s about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy.”
    -Stephen King

    “I think for me the tipping point was when I was a very young man. It was late at night, and I was lying in bed, and I thought, as I often thought, ‘I could be a writer. It’s what I want to be. I think it’s what I am.’ And then I imagined myself in my eighties, possibly even on my deathbed, thinking the same thought, in a life when I’d never written anything. And I’d be an old man, with my life behind me, still telling myself I was really a writer—and I would never know if I was kidding myself or not.” –Neil Gaiman

    “The scariest moment is always just before you start.” -Stephen King

    i can tell writing is a considerable part of who you are and, as a writer, you can either write, or not write. unfortunately, either way, you suffer to some degree-- writing is a discipline and takes much work (however entirely worth it), and not writing is the equivalent of limiting a winged animal to a cage its entire life.

    i'm not sure if you were being rhetorical with this post or not, and i realize i'm only 16 and attempting to give advice as if i'm some learned expert, but i have much empathy for your situation and care about your written endeavors-- as your niece and as a fellow writer. every day offers a potential adventure-- it is up to you to create that opportunity.

  2. I struggle with the same thing regarding writing. I want to use the gifts God has given me (also, with no training whatsoever!) but do find it difficult to find the time. But usually, if I see the big picture, I know that the years when my kids are tiny and at home a lot are so few and so quick... I feel okay putting more serious writing (if it ever happens) on the back burner until they are at least in school all day, every day. But that's just me. And honestly, my other thought when it comes to all kinds of fun hobbies I wish I had time to do, but don't... I realize that there will be eternity to write and craft and do a million other amazing things in heaven. And so if I have to wait until I'm there... that's okay too. :) I love you Cuz, thanks for posting this, and can't wait to read your book someday. :)