A couple months ago, I announced that I was going to quit writing. Some of you don’t care (so, why are you even reading this?) and others wonder why. I know it probably sounds, to some, like I’m a bit erratic, that I’m sudden in my creative movements. But I’m really not. There was a reason, and it was a long time coming. However, I’ve started to write again, because honestly, it’s part of me and what I’ve been doing (paid and unpaid) since 1996. The world has gone kind of crazy, too, so I feel like I have to say something about that. As a teller of tales, how do I exactly stay away from big stories–good and bad?
Even though I’m “back” now, I’m back kind of reluctantly. Not because I’m reluctant to write. I love writing. It’s what I do. Even the very day I decided I was to “quit writing” I went out and bought a huge notebook and it’s filled now, along with two others, with notes on things I was thinking about. I’m sort of like a turtle. My shell is quite tough; you can even run over me, and I’m likely to be remain intact. But, I have to bring my head in, from time to time, to protect it. I bet even Nora Roberts takes a vacation, even though rumors say she doesn’t.
I get punched (mostly by family, long time friends and fellow writers), and I take it all in, all the guilt and all the shortcomings. They’re all my fault (even when they’re not), and I embrace them, but I embrace them within myself. I stew there and return when I’ve cut away some bits of me of that bring me discomfort.
I have endured some pretty virulent attacks from writers at a former publisher I worked with, because I challenged their “unique” approach to publishing. It wasn’t working for me and most of their hundreds of writers. I posted a pro/con list. I was, essentially, blacklisted. I was called a liar and a lot of other things by people who knew me and didn’t. There were some terrible things said, friends who still had my back told me, but I left right away, retreated into my shell early, so I don’t even know what the worst things were. That made me delete several hundred social media contacts in self-preservation. I shaved a good portion of my personality and left it on the cutting floor. It’s blown away by now. I’m really not sure how else to deal with such things. It seems the best option, the quietest way to stop the noise.
A cousin of mine had words with me over the summer about a post I wrote about parents raising their kids to be bullies, or at least, not dealing with their children who are bullies. My children are only half-white. My daughter’s bullying experience was because she was not white, and I expressed this. My cousin shot me down. She said I was wrong. Bullying has nothing to do with racism, all kids–especially mine–needed to experience a little more hardship. She said this even though we’d never met in person, even though she’s thousands of miles from me. I stewed, but I didn’t say anything more about it. I retreated.
The presidential campaign happened. The same cousin made her thoughts on “the other side” quite clear. If you disagreed with her, you were just an unreasonable, nasty person. I stewed. A lot of people disagreed, because they felt they hadn’t been heard.
The election came, she made a statement that hurt me, though it was aimed nowhere near me. I took it personally, because I chose to and because it related to how I felt about the election results at the time. I unfriended her. Not because I didn’t want her around anymore, but because I assumed she would be better off without me. She’d made it pretty clear for several months, that I was no longer part of her inside circle, that I was on the opposite side of her fence. She didn’t appreciate that assessment from me, “If you’d come down off your high horse, you’d realize that no one cares what you think. Your words don’t matter.”
There was a lot more, but that last line I took inside with me to my shell, and I went silent. I had no desire to write anything. I don’t mind defending others. I have no fear, whatsoever, about that, but I hate coming to my own defense. She’s right, and I knew it. No one cares what I have to say. I’m not important, but I don’t pretend to be or think I am either, so I didn’t get sad. I just didn’t have any feeling about any of it anymore, and I quit writing.
I have a degree in Cognitive Studies. I have several years of experience teaching, tutoring and offering behavioral therapy to people with autism (mostly on a volunteer basis). I figured I could do that from now on and leave the writing to people whose words are important. However, I have a neuromuscular disease called Myasthenia Gravis, so leaving my house consistently is, also, not practicle, so guess what? Guess who’s still inside her shell, but inside with her laptop? I can handle critics and reviewers. I love a good editing from someone who wants to shape my story well, or who has good advice on what scenes and characters to cut, but I don’t handle personal attacks well. I don’t usually fight back, but I do lose some of myself each time. I can’t help it. I was just grown this way.
Yes, for the seven people who care, I’m still writing and I’m still submitting and I’m still trying to figure out how to customize my personal Facebook page so sharply that it prevents about 80% of my readers from seeing what I’m saying. My existence offends people sometimes, and I’m kind of tired of that, so those who know me in the flesh will see less of me. And those who know me online will see some of me. But those who read my stories will see more of me. It’s there where you will find me, and that’s probably how things will stay. This election year has taken a lot out of me, and a lot of other people I know, too. After a time inside the shell, I’ve realized that I’d much rather write than talk, and I definitely don’t enjoy posting at all, but I will do that sometimes anyway. After all, social media is where everything is now, like it or not.
I am finishing up The Embers of War series, my prose is in a new Feminine Collective anthology called Love Notes and I have a new women’s commercial fiction piece that I will be submitting to a couple of agents soon enough. It takes place in the land of my childhood, southern California, where my imagination wants to go when I need warmth and free smiles. We shall see what becomes of it. Thank you to those who have stuck around. My characters have much to say, and they’re grateful for the attention.