Category Archives: writing

Running Like Hell

The day I registered for the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop was the day I quit writing.

The bad days are agonizing. Those are the days when the words don’t come—when Imposter Syndrome seeps in, courage hides, and fear gets in the way of finishing. Even productive days are excruciating. The words come, but they arrive at inopportune times, like when I should be cooking dinner for or bathing my kids.

My creative process has always been sporadic. My best work strikes unexpectedly, like when Sam possessed Oda Mae’s body to communicate with Molly in Ghost. Without warning, a story inhabits my body, courses through my veins, pulses in my heart, and pours out of my fingers at the keyboard.

Elizabeth Gilbert tells a story in Big Magic about the poet Ruth Stone who, when she was a child, would hear a poem coming toward her and would “run like hell” home to get a piece of paper and pencil to catch it before it passed through her. Gilbert also describes a few bewildering creative endeavors of her own where fairy dust was most certainly involved.

I’m grateful to have “caught” some startling magic from deep in the Universe, but the act of writing isn’t always so charming. I’ve learned how to cope with the decidedly un-magical days weeks months of (not) writing. Running helps. So does organizing the linen closet, eating SkinnyPop, and co-chairing the silent auction for a local fundraising Gala. (In all fairness, I don’t recommend that last one.)

The deliberate act of not writing comes with some guilt, worry, and extra calories, but the magic always returns. Or does it? Lately, there’s been no fairy dust or catching or finishing. There’s been nothing but fear, defeat, distraction, and thoughts like, it was good while it lasted.

On Tuesday, December 5, 2017, when the 2018 Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop opened its doors, I closed mine. I made a deliberate and conscious decision not to go. It would be a waste of time and money, and I probably wouldn’t get in anyway with so many writers vying for so few spots.

At 12:57 p.m.—at the grocery store and 57 minutes after Erma registration officially started—I received three frantic texts from a longtime friend I’ve known since we were roommates in graduate school two decades ago.

SIGN UP FOR ERMA BOMBECK NOW!

TRY!!!

GO GO GO!

I’m not saying this friend of mine is magic, fairy dust, or Patrick Swayze, but she once drove me to the emergency room after I passed out from flu-related dehydration. Her words—now…try…go—were like ice-cold water splashed on my face.

I dropped my basket with bananas, cheese sticks, a loaf of bread, and a box of Cheez-Its on the floor of the frozen foods aisle and ran like hell home to catch It. If Sam had the resolve to possess Oda Mae for one more dance with his true love, and if Oda Mae had the audacity to let him, so did I.

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Weekend Plans

myview

I’m attending a blogging conference this weekend. It’s my first one. I’ve been writing for almost six years, so it’s fair to say that I’ve taken my sweet time putting myself out there in the blogging community.

When I first began writing, I promised to let The Runaway Mama grow organically. I vowed not to force a business strategy (or any kind of strategy) on it at the expense of the joy, creativity, and healing I felt when I carved out an hour or even a few minutes to sit at my computer and write.

I found solace in writing. It allowed me to reconnect with myself at a time when my world revolved solely around the needs of my young children. Putting the chaos and emotion of early motherhood into words gave me a sense of purpose that stay-at-home motherhood had taken away.

To protect it, I purposely chose not to impose plans or goals. I couldn’t fathom being accountable to anyone but my two diaper-clad little boys. But I was also afraid. What if I failed? Or worse, what if no one even noticed I was there?

In good ways and in bad, motherhood swallowed me whole. I disappeared inside its deep, sweeping, pulsing belly. Thankfully, writing spit me back out.

Writing taught me to take risks.

Writing gave me permission to dream.

Writing opened me up.

Writing gave me a voice.

Writing let me be me.

Writing made me a writer.

I’ve grown a lot over the last six years. (So have my two diaper-clad little boys, by the way!) I’m still fiercely protective of my work, but it’s time to shift my view. I’m ready step out from behind the comfort and safety of my computer screen and connect with, learn from, and be inspired by other writers. In person. Face to face. (Gulp.)

I’m excited, nervous, scared, and hopeful about this weekend, which is exactly how I felt when I published my very first blog post and how I know – regardless of how long it took me to get here – that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.

#BlogU16, here I come! (Just as soon as I decide how many pair of shoes to pack. A Mama needs options!)

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