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Sometimes I Wish I Didn’t Love to Write

I’ve never said that aloud.  I still have never said that aloud unless I one day read this post to someone.  But the thought occurred to me as I was washing dishes, much in the same way that there are relationships where we say to ourselves, “I wish I hadn’t fallen in love with him/her.”  And we don’t completely mean it; we just mean that we wish whatever we had fallen in love with was easier.

I wish I hadn’t fallen in love with writing, which is so difficult to find time to do.  There are so many activities you can do around other people; so many activities where the level of noise doesn’t matter, where you can move in and out of the activity with ease.  Writing is fussy.  I can’t write when there is noise, I can’t writing when there is music playing, I can’t write when people are sitting too close to me, or when I have too long a to-do list, or when the space around me is messy.  I can’t write when I’m too tired, which is usually when I can grab time to write: early in the morning or late in the night.  I can’t write when I am in certain moods.  I can’t write when I’ve been away from a project for a long time; I need to take days to get reacquainted with it, learn it again, even though the characters felt so real it was as if they were in the room with me the last time I wrote it.

I wish I didn’t love to write because if I didn’t love to write, words wouldn’t matter quite so much to me.  I could let words go instead of holding them tightly.  Writers record; not only our own words, but everything said to us, everything we overhear, everything we understand between the lines.  I wish words didn’t weigh quite so much, weren’t so slippy and difficult to hold.  I wish I could set them down somewhere instead of carrying them with me wherever I go.

I wish I didn’t care about writing so deeply, didn’t cling to the act of writing in the same way a surgeon holds a scalpel.  It defines her.  If I didn’t care so deeply, then I could approach writing with the detachment I bring to other tasks.  Either they happen or they don’t.  And I don’t take the completion of those tasks personally, don’t wrap up my self-esteem in those tasks.  It is a shame that I chose writing to do that with, an act that often feels outside my control, as if the project is leading me instead of the other way around.

I wish the consumption of the end product was fulfilled by myself instead of others, like a snake swallowing her tail.  I wish that it was just as satisfying to write something and never let anyone see it as it is to write words and release them into the world.  I wish I could spread wings and tuck them around all my words like a mother duck nestling her ducklings under her body, when instead it feels closer to shoving my words outside naked, to stand in an open square, with dozens of people walking around.

Even the blog posts are naked.  In an open square.  With dozens of people walking around.


1 Esperanza { 05.03.12 at 9:29 pm }

I know EXACTLY what you mean. Although I wish I didn’t love to write so I could be happy in some other profession that would afford me more money and less marital strife, that would be guaranteed to pay the rent and put food on the table. But yeah. I know exactly what you mean.

2 Anjali { 05.03.12 at 9:32 pm }

Esperanza, you took the words right out of my mouth.

3 Angie { 05.03.12 at 10:09 pm }

I know exactly what you mean too. I just wish I could walk away from it, and not feel a hole deep in my soul where writing and words are.

4 a { 05.03.12 at 10:26 pm }

My work also requires great concentration, and can’t be done amid distractions, or when I just don’t feel like it. Unfortunately, sometimes I have to force it, which doesn’t usually work out well…but at least it gets me into a better place to focus.

I wish I were a better writer. I wish that kissing the Blarney Stone had had some tangible results! I am not much of a storyteller…

5 jjiraffe { 05.03.12 at 10:38 pm }

I remember my dad sometimes being devastated by letters to the editor. You’re right: writing really puts yourself out there, unlike any other profession except maybe acting, music or modeling?

I was scared to reveal my characters in the MFA workshop: they’re like good friends to me and at first when people were asking questions about them in the comments, I thought, “Ouch!”

This is such a beautiful sentence: “I wish the consumption of the end product was fulfilled by myself instead of others, like a snake swallowing her tail.” You may sometimes regret BEING a writer, but by God: you are one hell of a writer. We, the public square, are lucky to be able to read your words 🙂

6 Lori Lavender Luz { 05.04.12 at 1:34 am }

I feel as if you’ve been inside my head. My messy, to-do-list laden head. Nodding to everything you said.

You said it all exquisitely. Oh, my.

7 Mina { 05.04.12 at 2:52 am }

And yet you leave the impression it is aaaaall soooo eeeeeasy! Leaving us, well, me, so envious and thinking “I had practically the same thoughts, I just did not put it into words as well as Mel”. Of course, the thoughts were not exactly the same, they were presented as if they were mine, which makes you one very insidious writer, my dear.

And even if it is not so easy after all, wouldn’t you rather have loved and lost than never to have loved at all? Of course, you do not lose your love through writing, you lose some other convenient bits in your life, which might make it inconvenient, but still, can you imagine your life without writing?

Last but not least, it sounds like your mind is too busy. Whatever is brewing in there, it keeps you awake. Take a vacation from your daily life, go to the Bora Bora in your head, lounge in that imaginary sun and ransack the Lushary Bar. And be mindful, don’t come back with tan lines. 🙂

8 Pam/wordgirl { 05.04.12 at 9:05 am }

I think about this all the time. For me, I think that my MFA program did more harm than good perhaps? I met enough “literary writers “who we’re making a living… In a very particular way, some quite spectacularly others quite modestly… But I felt it might be possible for me. I realize now that that kind of life requires complete dedication, a family that’s willing to follow you and devote their time to your success… the kind of minds work I cultivate simply can’t be done for me in the busyness of life with a toddler, not now… When I’m older I guess and perhaps this is another price I paid for starting my family too late? I don’t know I just don’t know.

I can sustain short pieces… But nothing much longer than what I do now … And more importantly I have difficulty building a body of work in order to establish a career and that just drives me crazy.

So it isn’t so much the writing, or the vulnerability of my words out there in the public space… For me it is more ever having believed that I might become the writer I thought I was capable of being… Does that make sense? I wish I hadn’t had such a large dream.

I tell you, Siri helps me a comment on posts now… But I’m not certain she would be much of a help helping me write …she doesn’t get it right all the time so excuse me if this, the sort of wonky.



9 mrs spock { 05.04.12 at 9:38 am }

I totally could have written this last night at 2:30 am, as I sat staring at a blank page. Life would be so much easier if I didn’t feel the desire to write. I could log onto my 9-5 nursing job, do my bit, log off, get the evening chores done, dinner, baths and bedtime, then go to bed without any nagging guilt that I should have burned the midnight oil finishing the article for the company website, or finally getting the last of that query letter done.

10 Pam/wordgirl { 05.04.12 at 9:46 am }

Whoa. Sorry I am such a wet blanket on this post but I have been feeling really really blocked and discouraged about my writing for quite some time now so I probably shouldn’t be allowed to comment on posts like these. I think that success in writing can be summed up by Raymond Carver’s quote about writing. It’s a great quote where he talks about success and the dark horse and who it happens to… People who you may expect it from but then other people who you never would’ve imagined in your wildest dreams… But that it never happens for anyone who doesn’t think of writing in the same way they think of breathing, food, love. I have always suspected I just didn’t give it the kind of dedication it needs.

11 Pam/wordgirl { 05.04.12 at 9:48 am }

Writers write, and they write, and they go on writing, in some cases long after wisdom and even common sense have told them to quit. There are always plenty of reasons—good, compelling reasons, too—for quitting, or for not writing very much or very seriously. (Writing is trouble, make no mistake, for everyone involved, and who needs trouble?) But once in a great while lightning strikes, and occasionally it strikes early in the writer’s life. Sometimes it comes later, after years of work. And sometimes, most often, of course, it never happens at all. Strangely, it seems, it may hit people whose work you can’t abide, an event that, when it occurs, causes you to feel there’s no justice whatsoever in the world. (There isn’t, more often than not.) It may hit the man or woman who is or was your friend, the one who drank too much, or not at all, who went off with someone’s wife, or husband, or sister, after a party you attended together. The young writer who sat in the back of the class and never had anything to say about anything. The dunce, you thought. The writer who couldn’t, not in one’s wildest imaginings, make anyone’s top ten possibilities. It happens sometimes. The dark horse. It happens, lightning, or it doesn’t happen. (Naturally, it’s more fun when it does happen.) But it will never, never happen to those who don’t work hard at it and who don’t consider the act of writing as very nearly the most important thing in their lives, right up there next to breath, and food, and shelter, and love, and God.

—Raymond Carver (introduction, Best American Short Stories 1986

12 Tiara { 05.04.12 at 1:10 pm }

It always amazes me when you can articulate what I’ve felt in my heart but had been unable to express. Thank you for that.

13 Bea { 05.05.12 at 2:36 am }

Ah. So true and so well put.


14 Daryl { 05.05.12 at 9:16 pm }

What I love about your writing is that you articulate what a lot of us are thinking so well. On the occasions where I have “taken a break” from writing, I’m just so darn unhappy. And yet, even in my writing, I am never truly content. There is always something I wish I would have worded differently, better. But once it’s out there, it’s too late to take it back, fix it up, polish, and shine. And there is such a vulnerability that comes with that. But with any great love, there is always vulnerability. That’s the beauty of it, and where the ache comes from.

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
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