Monday, July 8, 2013


Two weeks ago, fellow writer Heidi Willis wrote a blog about life after an MFA. Her post struck a chord for me, as I'm sure it did for any writer who has traveled the path for any length of time and who is trying to piece together a life that incorporates the writing dream and the real world.

One line in particular resonated for me:
I am exhausted by not writing, by the lack of sense of purpose that comes from putting words on a page.
That is how vacations make me feel. Time spent "relaxing" feels awkward and kind of wrong. Time spent with family feels better, but too much time away from writing leaves me with a vague sense of unrest, as though there is something I've forgotten to do, but I can't quite put my finger on it.

I know Heidi wasn't talking about vacations, rather about things of much deeper significance, but she managed to put into words the herky-jerky sense I had surrounding not just the Independence Day holiday, but also summer vacation in general -- that time delineated by equal parts happiness over time spent with family and frustration over time spent not writing.

I hate the stop-start feeling of squeezing writing into nooks and crannies of indeterminate length. I don't mind the nooks and crannies themselves as long as I have a rough estimate of their size, but when the writing hole into which I've sequestered myself suddenly fills with the quicksand of immediate demands from the outside world, I get cranky.

Unlike me, Heidi was writing about a real life, big decision dilemma, but her words were so perfect I had to share them here. Even now, as I go back and re-read those words, struck by their beauty and accuracy, I'm comforted in some strange way by the fact that someone else understands that feeling, and grateful that she put it into words that sense that has been haunting me for weeks.

I don't know what path my friend Heidi will choose, but I know in her heart she will always be a writer. And I for one am grateful that she shares her words.

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