Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Stuck in the Mud (Erin)

Do you ever feel like you are going happily on your way, and then you get stuck in the proverbial mud? Not literally. . .our Minnesota weather has been too nice for that. But figuratively, this is where
my writing is right now.

I am starting to learn that, historically, September and October tend to be crazy, hectic months in my life. As the mom of three school-age children and the wife of a marathon-running cross country coach, fall in my life brings lots of running around. Between school, practice, appointments I missed scheduling in the summer--not to mention my own (new) job, correcting papers, conferences for everyone, and grocery shopping, I tend to be rather busy. I love all of our activities. . . crisp, cool mornings, sipping coffee in a camp chair and watching a soccer game, or stopping for cinnamon rolls on the way home from watching a race, or even hanging out at the bus stop, waiting for someone to come home all have delightful elements. However, I find I have little time for writing.

With my first completed manuscript finished and awaiting a response from an agent, I need to be working on my second manuscript. It is the sequel to my first, and I have already written over 42,000 words. Although it felt great to sit down and add a couple hundred words the other day, I still feel stuck, like when I skip running for too long and even the thought of putting my running shoes on makes me wince. Wandering around my house, wondering how to get out of my slump, I saw one of my favorite sources of inspiration, Sophy Burnham's book, For Writers Only  on my shelf. Flipping through it, I came across these words:
When I am happiest, I write almost every day. For long periods, however, my time is taken. Days pass. . . weeks. Then I forget all over again how to write. I forget I can begin. I forget I ever once began. At times like these, then, fear and doubt must be fought with every weapon in our arsenal. These include: affirmations, prayer, silence, stillness, trusting, trying, waiting, walking, reading, not reading (45).

I love the way Burnham says, ". . .my time is taken." There is no judgement in her words. She doesn't make me feel guilty for not writing. My time has been taken. . .with the sixty-five short stories I foolishly refused to burden with a length limit; with my beloved children's sports games and practices and conversations; with cooking (although I must confess, my mom keeps blessing us with meals. . . 12 homemade hamburger patties, mashed potatoes and mushroom barley soup last week); with laundry and elections and life.

When your time is similarly taken and you have forgotten how to begin writing again, which of the weapons Burnham mentions are most helpful to you? I think, for me, this week, affirmation speaks most clearly. Two years ago, in the front cover of Burnham's book, my husband wrote, "I love reading your writing. Please keep it up. . .."

Okay. I think I will.



  1. Great post, Erin! I felt the same way at the beginning of the summer when my kids weren't in school--so much of my time was taken away from writing. I hope you're able to get back into it soon! And I love the note from your husband :)

    1. Thanks! I am starting to realize writing has seasons, like the rest of our lives. The note from my husband is sweet, isn't it? A comfort in case I never get published.

  2. You are so right - life has been crazy for me since July NaNoWriMo, and writing has just fallen to the bottom of the list because of all my other responsibilities. I find it hard to go back to writing. Like she said: my time is taken. I love that phrase. That is such a kind thing for your husband to do. Thanks so much for the encouragement!


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