This morning I found myself awake at 3am. Jet lag. It sucks, if not for the obvious perk that you’ve been somewhere far enough away, that it messes with your sleep, when you return. I had the enormous perk of having spent a week cycling in Croatia (a place I fell madly in love with, and will try to write about… later. You’ll have to wait), and 4 1/2 days exploring Rome (a place… well, it’s Rome! It’s an epic place on every level. I can’t wait to write about that too). So, jet lag… a first world problem, for sure. But there I was lying on my sofa, trying not to wake up my husband, Smart Guy, who has to manage his own jet lag and work, and I found myself circling the “writer’s block” drain again. Every day (EVERY. DAY.) I think of blog posts I want to write. I write them in my head. I type out witty/ thoughtful/ boring/ funny/ inane/ meaningful/ you-name-it blog posts, in the gray room, where nothing ever actually gets published. I kick myself for not querying agents and publishers. I promise myself that I’m going to edit my novel, or my memoir and do something. I lambast myself for not submitting pieces to publications, entering contests, or sending anything to Huffington Post, who–– while they don’t pay me, have been very generous and supportive of my writing. I love my editor at HP, no matter what other writers say about the”sell out” of giving my words away for free. She has been nothing but gracious, helpful and supportive in every piece I’ve had published with Huffington. But, I’m not sending anything there either. No, I’m up with jet lag, wondering why I am so stuck. Waiting for a spark.
This week, I will attend my 35th high school reunion. Note to self: it’s not wise to spend nearly a week in Rome, right before a reunion, if you want to not look like you’ve gained the (now) 30 pounds you’ve gained, since high school. Admittedly, I was too thin in high school, and remained that way with a strict balance of not eating enough, puking, sometimes, exercising too much, and then not eating… enough. Cliché, right? (and I am not making light of any of it… it was a very self-destructive time). If you’ve read this blog long enough (and who is reading it anymore… because I’m not writing…) you know that I was a messed up bundle of issues, until about… well, still working on that too. But, BUT, five years ago, when I attended our last reunion, I had just started this blog. In fact, as I recently shared (in one of the few blog posts I’ve written lately, that you probably didn’t read… because you figured I’m still not writing) and which you can read here (if you are now wondering how you missed that), my blog just celebrated its fifth birthday!
Back then, very few people were reading this blog. Let me rephrase that: maybe two people were reading this blog. One of them was Smart Guy, because I asked him to. I would write a post, and there would be no “hits,” no comments, nothing. Nada. No one. I would hit publish, and wait. But nothing happened. Those posts got read later, when people were finally reading my blog, and wanted to go back and see where the magic began… (she says with mock self-aggrandizement). If you’re so inclined, you can read that first post, here. You will see 2 Likes… which, again, came later. Not long after starting the blog, trying to kick start a new chapter of my life, as my kids all grew up and were quickly leaving… I ran away from home, and was spending nearly two weeks alone in Yellowstone–– because I’d always wanted to go there; because I could drive there; because I had to drop my son, Little Man, off at camp there, and because I figured that no one could actually find me, as I had my own Dances With Wolves adventure. (That is in reference to my getting up at 4am many mornings, to go watch the wolf pups howl).
You may note that I’m rambling a bit here. It’s the jet lag. And it’s probably the fact that I haven’t been writing lately… so structure is hard to wrangle. In fact, I’m starting new paragraphs just to give you a break (if there’s anyone reading this), as you wait for me to get to the point. Anyway, I was in Yellowstone, writing blog posts, and a few people started reading them. I didn’t know how to add photos, I wasn’t entirely sure how to do many things, but a few people emailed me their thoughts (they didn’t hit Like, or leave comments), and that feedback grabbed me by my “what the fuck am I doing with my life” collar and shook me out of it. Admittedly, I liked those posts. I felt like being there on my own, in the wild (literally and figuratively), I was finding myself again. I needed it desperately. (If you’re now thinking: wow! That’s really cool, wish I’d read those, you can do that, here (planning), here (getting started), here (grizzly bears and freedom), here (Eddy Vedder, more bears, adding photos, and still no Likes), here (wherein I learn that fly fishing is sexy), here (bikers, they’re not all scary), here (this might be a mid-life crisis), here (finding some clarity, which should be read before the last here), here (where I go to a rodeo and eat his balls––it’s getting good, right?), here (where I meet a stranger, and spend much of the night with him… really good!), here (the morning after, when I take him for a ride), here (a ride with a sexy cowboy… because, apparently, when I run away, I meet a lot of men), here and here (not really the end of the adventure, but I pick up my boy, because–– warning: don’t read if you don’t want to know the ending– I don’t leave my family). If you weren’t thinking: wow! That’s really cool, wish I’d read those, then I’ve just wasted your time, with a lot of links, you won’t read.
So, another paragraph break, more rambling, more waiting… for the spark, for me to get to the point, for you to read those old posts. But, in my (jet-lagged, because we wouldn’t be here without jet-lag) defense: those posts are good. I really like them. And, they got zero-2 Likes. So, if you pick one link, and read an old post, it might help me jump-start my sorry-ass-nonwriting-self again, because (if you’re still with me here), I was just saying: those few initial likes, those comments, the fact that anyone was reading my work, is what got me going. Those two weeks in an incredibly beautiful, mostly silent place, shook life into me. It jump started me, when I really needed the jump. And… (you may note, I love an ellipsis, and parenthesis)… it was leading up to my 30th high school reunion (with my 35th now looming days away). The night before the reunion, one of my posts got Freshly Pressed–– in case you’re new here, that’s what Word Press used to do when they featured your work (it’s now called Discover), and tons and tons (and I mean sometimes more than a thousand)people read your post, and you got a cool badge to put on your blog (I still proudly have mine displayed, along with one Discover… ok, now, I’m bragging). For this (then) new blogger, I had no idea what Fresh Pressed was. I had just figured out how to add photos! In fact, I didn’t know I was FP’ed until I got to the pre-reunion get together, and someone else told me. I was sincerely flabbergasted when my email notifications started exploding. If you want to read that one, it’s here, but I recommend reading the comments; that’s where the real magic is. And, I’m rambling again. Suffice it to say, that suddenly I had some readers. Some of them were my high school classmates. Go figure!
I’ll point out here, that I was not excited, initially, about my 30th reunion. I was dreading it. In fact, while I was in Yellowstone, I was definitely planning not to go. But, one unexpected person reached out, and then I found all kinds of reasons (via Facebook, which you can read about here) that maybe it wouldn’t suck wicked hard… and it didn’t. I’m actually looking forward to this reunion, because a lot’s changed in these five years. While I was feeling alienated and different, from the people I grew up with (sounds like high school, right?), it turns out that a lot of us were feeling the same way. When we reconnected, it filled a gap that was nice to have filled. And, that reunion weekend my writing took off. That was the start of it. I read other bloggers, I connected with lots of them, they read me in return. Then others started reading my work. I got Freshly Pressed a couple more times (remember, that feature thing I explained above, and more bragging), and then I had Arianna Huffington ask to publish one of my pieces (for real, I still have the email… that she wrote, herself), BlogHer named me a 2015 Voices of the Year (and shortly thereafter, I stopped writing), and LeBron James started following me on Twitter, even though I’m lame on Twitter (yes, that’s for real too. But, in an effort to be fully transparent, he unfollowed me recently… I don’t know why he did, but I’m sad. Even if I don’t watch much basketball; I like LeBron; I liked that he was following me). Some of those Huffington Post pieces went viral, most of them didn’t, but they asked me to write some more. Ariana Huffington apparently knows what she’s doing, because that first one was big (there’s no magic in those comments, but there’s a lot of anti-Semitic nastiness).
In that brag-ladened ramble, (probably brought on by my need for reminders that I was in fact writing, for a while…) I totally got away from the fact that I was lying on this sofa wondering how I stopped writing, when for nearly five years I wrote all the time. It was fairly effortless. I was lying here, trying to get back to sleep, while my brain was on fire… waiting for inspiration, waiting to put fingers to keys, waiting to find my mojo again… waiting. I opened my emails, and there was the Word Press Daily Post prompt: Wait. In the ever critical gray room: “What are you waiting for?” So, I’ve rambled. I’m waiting for the spark. I dug up a lot of old links (which, let me tell you: takes a shit lot of energy, hubris and/or moxie… and gives you lots to read), which reminded me that I can write… and, I’m hoping to find my writer self again. I’ve got jet lag. It’s now 5am. But, I’m writing.