Today YA Highway asks one of the most basic writing questions:
When and why did you start writing?
More interesting, regarding my life:
Let's talk about when I stopped writing.
For two reasons. One, the lovely and talented Veronica Roth covers here.
Two is a little more difficult for me to discuss publicly.
I have stack upon stack of binders full of angsty poetry and short stories "loosely" based on my junior high and high school life. I fancied myself a writer, but in large part, writing was less about art and more about therapy.
In college, I started treatment for clinical depression. As the need for literary therapy faded, my writing not only felt unworthy and unnecessary, but also dangerous, like an indicator that something was wrong with me again.
Flash forward seven years. I'd tried academia, teaching, my current job, obsessing over my parenting, all kinds of crafts and arts, and still felt... adrift. My children were old enough that I finally had time to read again, and on a trip to the beach, I read that damn vampire book everyone was talking about. Stayed up all night reading it. Went to the grocery store and bought the next three in the morning.
Spent the two-day drive home admitting to myself that I wanted to start writing again-- and it was okay not to write the great American novel.
So here we are. It's a struggle still, sometimes, when I spend all day in my head, pieces of story flashing behind my eyes.When a writing day ends in guilty bedtime kisses for my boys. The publishing roller coaster doesn't lend itself to emotional stability, and my current WIP doesn't either. The emotions are much closer to the bone than my last book, and that can be dangerous, as my friend Myra McEntire pointed out in her brave and honest look at writing with depression. I couldn't have written this post without hers, to be honest.
But that feeling of being adrift, of not following your passion, is a slippery slope into depression too. The need to write isn't a measure of what's wrong, and its product isn't a therapy tool. It's a measure of how far I've come, of my ability to balance its emotional demands with my own, and if I'm not well enough to do that, I'm not really well. As Myra says, "I know that writing is my calling. I rest in the fact that I am absolutely doing what I'm supposed to do."
So that's why I started writing again.
Road Trip Wednesday is a "Blog Carnival," where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question and answer it on our own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.
We'd love for you to participate!