After a long hiatus, I’ve been stretching and warming up my fingers, poising them to attack my keyboard. I am once again writing for pleasure, starting a new project that will likely take months, and realistically, may never be published.
It all started when I ran into a man from my writers group.
“Are you going to come back?” he asked me.
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My usual list of stumbling blocks and excuses ran through my mind — except amazingly, they were no longer valid. My schedule has opened up. I have no monstrous obligation looming over my head. My kids no longer require my attention every waking moment.
“Um,” I told him. “I guess maybe I could.”
I later floated it by my husband. “Larry asked me if I’m coming back to writers group.”
“Why don’t you?” he asked me.
I’d wondered if my husband would point out that I’ve been writing for years, and while I have one self-published book that I’m quite proud of, I also have another that resides deep in the digital backups of my computer and may never see the light of day.
It was good to see my husband’s continued faith in me. Writing is a long journey, and those who write can feel like they’re getting nowhere. It’s easy to lose faith. Yet, he still seemed willing to cheerlead me. Or, at least not try to talk me out of it, which is a good second-best.
I signed up for a writers conference and emailed the writers critique group to ask if they would let me come back, and put the meeting on my calendar when I’d been re-admitted.
Yet, I will be the first to tell you that thinking, talking, dreaming and even reading about writing do not make one a writer. It doesn’t matter what group you belong to, where you pay dues, or what meetings you attend. To earn that title, it is absolutely necessary to put words together into something that will eventually take shape as a book, a story, an essay or a poem. They may even be destined for the wastebasket, but as long as the word-stringing is taking place, you can claim to be a writer.
For a long while, aside from this column, I was not writing.
It was time to begin, but I also face a much longer list of what we can call “soft excuses” that can cripple me on any given day. Here are a few: There is no document on my computer for my new project. I would like another cup of coffee. I need to fold laundry. The dog is breathing too loudly. And probably the biggest of them all: I don’t know where to start.
The beginning of a journey is hard, especially when you don’t know how far away you are from the end — or if it will even be worthwhile in the end.
But I mustered the courage to create a folder on my computer for my new project, opened a blank document and began to type. I felt the words form in my head, then flow through my soul until they were typed by my fingers. I’m writing again.
When will I type “The End” on my new project? When I do, will I be pleased with what I’ve done? I don’t know those answers. But I do know that there’s value in the journey, and you’ve got to start somewhere.
Overland Park mom Emily Parnell writes alternate weeks. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @emilyjparnell