There I was in my early 20’s, failing to write a novel that insisted on rattling around in my brain, and doubting that I had the ability to really be a writer. Sometimes I would make another attempt at it, but self-doubt crushed me every time.

My self-esteem issues were hurting more than just my writing, and in my late 20’s I was in a failing relationship, struggling with a career change, and just generally drowning in depression. I went into therapy, first as couple’s counselling, and then for my own issues. In my efforts to rebuild myself, I tried writing again. I wrote a short story to illustrate my struggles and how I was seeing the world.

I shared it with my then-partner and got a very negative reaction – not because of the quality of writing, but because of how it related to our problems. On an intellectual level, I understood that the reaction had nothing to do with the writing itself, but on an emotional level my brain still made a connection between sharing my writing and negative feelings.

Time passed, life got better, and so did my mental health. Every few years I’d make another attempt to write the novel, but every time I’d fall into the same cycle: begin writing, start feeling lost, decide I had to write an outline, realize how many holes were in my story, and then abandon it again.

More time passed, and in my late 30’s I found myself in another dying relationship and reeling from another mental health crisis. In my recovery from the depression, I started itching to write something again, but fear was still holding me back.

I was reading something by Neil Gaiman one day. I don’t remember what exactly, but it was non-fiction, and he was talking about creativity and writing. I’d read similar things from him before, and one thing he always said was that with writing you had to do it every day. Don’t worry about if it’s good, just do it.

I’d read this from other authors too, but I’d talk myself into failure before I even began, convinced that I could never maintain a daily habit so why even try? I then read some of Gaiman’s fiction, and it was so beautiful it made me miserable. He was so damn good it just proved I’d never be a writer. How could I ever hope to achieve such perfection in word play?

I got so upset that my itching fingers turned to that most comforting refuge of a despairing writer – I wrote a poem about my sadness. Was it a good poem? I doubt it. Was it the best thing I had written in years? Definitely. I’m going to share it with you. Its importance in getting me back to writing can’t be understated, and so I think it deserves to be seen.

 

Making Excuses

I read your words and despair.

 

I want to write, truly I do, but

The grace of your words,

Their impact,

Only draws attention to the clumsiness of my efforts.

 

“Write everyday” they all say.

“You’ll only get better through practice.”

They have forgotten that

Tripping

               falling

                           failing 

Is so much harder than

Making excuses.

 

That’s all I wrote, 13 lines of questionable quality. But they changed everything. Looking at it I realized I was just making excuses. My own baggage was the only reason I wasn’t writing.

I still didn’t start writing again right away, but now when I thought about it I would ask myself “Are we making excuses again, Erin?” And yes, I was. I knew in my heart that I wanted to write, needed to write, but I just wasn’t doing it because I might fail. I still wasn’t quite ready to start, but the seed had been planted.

 

This story is taking longer to tell than I thought it would, so I’m going to leave the end of it for now. I hope you’ll join me for Part 3 on Sunday.

2 thoughts on “How I Got Here: Part 2

  1. Whiteley Eric

    You are doing fine,your peom says so much truth in it.I am positive as soon as you put your mind to it your hand will flow.Love you and hope we get to meet up soon

  2. […] this” and “I want to be able to shape words this way.” I’ve written here before about how one of the first things I wrote in my current journey was because I was inspired by reading Neil Gaiman, and how my novel is […]

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