Writing has been difficult lately. When I write, I feel free; I know that life is pouring out of me, that someone's story is becoming known. It's liberating, as if I've been holding the story inside of me to the point of bursting and then there is a sweet release. Hemingway once wrote that after he finished writing, he felt an emptiness. I know that feeling. When I completed Sweet Divinity, I wept because I loved living with Amanda Jane--and now her story was on the paper and no longer solely in me.
But lately I've felt a different kind of empty. It's a terrible feeling for a writer to feel alone, as if there are no characters living inside, no stories tucked down deep in the pit of her. That's how I've felt since January. There's been no liberation, no freedom, no feeling of release. Emptiness. I've been alone. And I'm not sure I've truly been alone as a writer in all my thirty-nine years. I remember writing stories from the time I could grip a pencil. A recording exists of a single-digits me retelling the story of Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. As I've written on this blog, I am a vessel, a willing vessel, for stories. And so this period of emptiness has been a trial.
I know what brought about this empty era, and like many trials of life, this one cannot be put aside or deflected: it must be lived through. But I firmly believe that when you live through struggle, when you finally emerge on the other side, you come through with a story.
And so will I.
In the meantime, I've decided to force myself to write. I'm a little late to take on this discipline for Lent, but perhaps I'll begin my forty days today. I've never gone in for the advice of "Write one thousand words every day" or "Don't eat. Don't brush your teeth. Get up and write." But I'm wondering if those words are the advice of empty feeling writers.
I have come to realize that I am not empty. It feels that way, sure, but it is not reality. There is no dearth of story inside of me. The stories are present within me; they are simply silenced. I cannot let them remain untold. It is my vocation as a writer to give these stories voice.
And so today I take on the challenge. I am not empty. I am very, very full. My voice is important. Words matter. This I believe.
I believe in myself.
I am a writer.