A year ago, I was an active writer, deep in the dream of publication. I wrote every day, blogged, belonged to two different critique groups, and pursued my dream head on.
However, a bump in the road steered me in a different direction—a different state—and I started working full time. Full time work meant part time writing, and when part time writing seemed too much I stopped all together. Meanwhile, the lives of my writing circle changed. They moved closer to their goals of publication and soon, one buddy published with an e-publisher, and another decided to go the self-pub route and a couple months ago another signed with a publisher and is getting ready to release her debut. Yet I remained just as I was—stagnant and far away from my group in both distance and direction.
As much as I wanted to be supportive, I struggled to keep up the mask of excitement. I was excited for them, but I was the one who had brought us together and soon, I was the one standing in the crowd watching. I had lost my desire.
I was resentful that I wasn’t strong enough to balance it all and bitter that I allowed myself to slow down, to let my dream fade as if it meant nothing at all.
I was thinking about this recently as I tried to pull myself out of my funk and give my writing peeps some of the support I wasn’t previously able to give. I remembered when I had graduated college and started my big girl job.
I met a couple friends who were born to be mommies and desperately wanted children. They couldn’t get enough of the drooling, boogery things, but unfortunately, no matter how hard they tried, they couldn’t have children. Despite their hang-ups, life carried on for those around them. Soon, a mutual friend had a child, then another and another. One year turned into ten. Yet, through years and trial after trial, these women weren’t able to live their dream. Failed adoptions and broken hearts kept them at a distance. Relationships faltered.
I couldn’t imagine what it was like to want something so bad and have to face that loss every day. To greet friends with smiles, knowing that she has the one thing you could never have. Baby showers full of women, forced laughter, and envious stares, then a hug goodbye and a silent car ride to an empty nest.
I remember watching one of these ladies as she scooped up a child into her arms and lulled it to sleep. The look in her eyes as she stared at that baby was heartbreaking. All the people in the room hushed because this woman, in particular, had suffered through three miscarriages.
Perhaps I shouldn’t have, but I couldn’t help but ask her later how she was able to cope and she simply said, “Sometimes you just have to kiss the baby.”
So as I figure my way back to my dream, I just wanted to tell my friends—new and old—how exciting it is to see them pursue theirs. This is a rough business and not one for everyone. We face scrutiny, jealousy, frustration, and a loss of faith in ourselves. But it doesn’t have to be that way if we take a minute to remember why we do what we do, why it matters.
How do you handle life and writing? Have you ever wanted to give up?