One of the assignments for the first module of my English Composition class was to write a reflective essay about my experiences as a writer and the challenges I’ve faced with the writing process. I was so nervous about turning in a college-level writing piece that I sent my essay draft into the free online tutoring service four times! Each editor had different suggestions and some of them contradicted each other, which left me discouraged, confused, and doubting my abilities as a writer.
At that point, I felt as though the composition course was going to slowly eat away at my love of writing and show me that I wasn’t as talented a writer as I believed. I made revisions, tweaked parts, and finally turned in my best shot because I knew I’d just keep overthinking things until the essay was complete nonsense. As it was, the essay I turned in was rather lengthy and perhaps wandered off point more than it should have.
Happily, I received a perfect score on the essay! I had been a bit too hard on myself yet again. It was a journal entry assignment and not an official final draft essay, but to me it was the most important writing work I’d done in a very long time. Yes, I asked permission before publishing it here, no worries 😉 I hope you enjoy it and thank you for reading!
Real life challenges and their impact on my writing – 8/30/2014
From the moment I first put pencil to paper to write a story, my experience as a writer has been filled with ebbs and flows as changing as the ocean tides. I’ve enjoyed inspired periods of writing where ideas crashed over me as strong and fast as the waves at high tide pushing their way inland. I’ve also suffered creative droughts where ideas have fled like the water at low tide, leaving dry sand and evaporated tide pools where once the inspired waters churned and thrived. Through it all, I’ve learned that real life challenges, such as divorce and losing a family member, have a strong impact on my writing. How I’ve faced those challenges has helped me grow as a writer, made me never want to write again, caused me to question my own writing abilities, and transformed me into a new kind of writer.
In the beginning of my journey as a writer, I wrote prolifically in college-ruled spiral notebooks, but that medium proved troublesome. I originally wrote in cursive and pencil, but quickly realized that the writing was difficult to re-read as words began to smudge on the page. From there, I progressed to pen and printing. However, I eventually discovered that I couldn’t hand write fast enough to get the words out of my brain as they popped into it. Seeking a solution to this problem, I took a keyboarding class in middle school. That class was one of the most useful courses in my writing experience. With typing, I could crank out my thoughts at the speed of 85 wpm and my writing-and prowess as a writer-reached a new level.
Whether scribbling in notebooks or typing on a keyboard, all of my creative writing was about the fantasy world of Aindar I created and followed the lives of multiple generations of my fictional characters. Within my stories of those characters and that world, there was romance, adventure, magic, courage, and the undying belief that love and all that was good always triumphed over evil. My love for that world was so strong, I typed up ten manuscripts in that series with numerous prequels written in the pages of those spiral notebooks.
I wrote in those books right up into my late 20’s as I reveled in the life of a wife and stay-at-home mother to my two daughters. After a day of taking care of the girls, I’d spend most nights at my desk, earbuds blasting upbeat dance music into my head and fingers flying across the keyboard. Sometimes I’d stay up past midnight. My life was happy, I was content, and my writing abilities thrived and grew.
Unfortunately, as I entered my 30’s I faced new and unexpected challenges in my life. My marriage was deteriorating and my loss of faith and belief in the power of love made it difficult to write about the complex and ultimately “happy ending” relationships in my books.
Adding to my personal struggles was enduring the loss of my father. He was my friend, my hero, and one of the biggest supporters of my abilities as a writer. When he died in 2009, the muse that influenced my fantasy book writing suffered a fatal blow that she’s still recovering from today. At that point in my life, I never wanted to write again.
As my heart began to heal with the passage of time, I found that I missed writing fantasy stories. To fill that empty spot within me, I started a new fantasy book in 2012 based in an entirely new world. The process of creating new characters, names and locations filled me with familiar excitement. Moreover, it was my first endeavor back into that genre since my father died. I had so many ideas for that book, but whenever I’d sit down to write it, I’d get so excited and nervous, I couldn’t sit still! Alas, I couldn’t seem to stay seated and focused because I was so afraid that I’d never be able to write as I used to. Furthermore, I’d been through so many struggles that I didn’t know who I was as a writer anymore.
I know my gift for writing is still there, even when it won’t manifest for my fantasy writing because when I write freelance, the words come easily and quickly for me. I receive a topic, reference sources, and a specific audience for each ghostwriting job. With such a clear plan and intention, I can easily write those blog posts and articles. Much to my delight, my clients praise my work, continue to give me direct assignments and award high approval ratings. Through freelance, I’ve developed into a new kind of writer and have obtained the skills necessary to progress in that career path. In the same way I developed my freelance skills, I’m certain I can eventually re-learn how to focus my fantasy writing talent with similar productive results.
Freelance writing is an outlet for my writing passion, but it doesn’t hold the same place in my heart that fantasy novel writing does. I am extremely grateful that I’m able to make a living doing what I love, but I still have dreams of being a published fantasy author someday. Until I can fully resuscitate my injured muse, I’ll continue my work, write in my personal blog when I can, and never lose faith that eventually my writing gift will fully return stronger than before.