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Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Back to the Essence - IWSG December 2022


Welcome to IWSG Day. The goal of this blog hop is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a haven for insecure writers of all kinds. IWSG is the brainchild of  Alex Cavanaugh.  To find other contributors, click here. Thank you to this month’s co-hosts: Joylene Nowell Butler, Chemist Ken, Natalie Aguirre, Nancy Gideon, and Cathrina Constantine!

No optional question for me this month, instead, you get a story.

I’ve mentioned earlier that my current writing project is not going fast, or easily, or well.

Now, pack that thought into a cupboard for a bit as I share the following.

As a teen, I spent two summers working and living in a country inn in New Hampshire where I made friendships I still treasure. That first summer, I met “K.” a writer who’d already published a memoir by the time I arrived on the scene. My autographed copy retains pride of place on my bookshelf.

As time went by in those pre-internet, pre-email, pre-just-about-anything-technological years, Christmas communications included long letters. Cards from K. and his wife contained essays he’d written about their young son and how as a dad, he learned life lessons while fielding his inquisitive boy’s direct questions. The stories were always sweet, sometimes whimsical, mostly funny, and if he compiled them into a collection, a suitable title might be, Parenting is Not for Sissies.

Fast forward to few years ago. Our major daily publishes a Sunday magazine section featuring a personal essay on the last page. Ages ago one of my own essays was featured, so each week I read it with interest to gauge the quality of the writing. One Sunday, I was drawn into a lovely piece and before long found the voice so familiar, I stopped mid-read to search for the byline. Sure enough, it was written by K.

Last week, K. emailed me that he would have another essay published in the upcoming Sunday supplement. When the day arrived, I made myself read the news methodically, savoring the anticipation of what I would find at the end. It didn’t disappoint. His essay about overcoming nerves while taking flight beside his son, a newly licensed pilot, made me wince, chuckle, and ponder a universal truth. It never feels like our adult children are grown up until they prove us wrong. I read it again and again.

So where am I going with this?

Well, the thing of it is, I’m not feeling great about my fourth attempt at a publishable novel. For months, I’ve been trudging up a mountain of slog, trying to develop one of my characters which is changing everything I’ve spent the last year-and-a-half writing. For the first time ever, I'm allowing myself to procrastinate (writing blog posts helps with that), and worse, can picture not finishing. But shortly after reading the piece by my old NH friend, I was inspired to sit in front of my computer and bang out my own story, about not hosting Thanksgiving for the first time in thirty years. How the holiday I’d expected to feel strange and altered turned into a memory I will savor.

Like K. I used real life examples and wrote from the heart. For the first time in a while, my fingers flew to catch up with my thoughts and when I was done, I felt that dopamine buzz that let me know I’d done something good.

I walked away from the computer with a six-hundred-word piece and a big fat reminder that what I love about writing is just that. The writing. No matter how unforgiving the slog, they can’t take that away from me.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That is great! It is easy to lose the joy and forget why we started writing in the first place.
Glad you can now keep up with K easier.

Natalie Aguirre said...

So glad you were able to tap into the joy of writing. Sometimes when I'm having a hard day, I feel so much better if I can get lost in writing or editing my story. And so awesome that you've stayed in touch with K all these years.

I hope you have a Happy Holiday! I know it may still be hard since your husband died. I'm here for you if you ever need to talk.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

I think that's wonderful. I remember when that happened to me. There's no going back now! Happy writing.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Wonderful, Liza!

Wishing you continued inspiration and creativity in the new year!

Nick Wilford said...

What a lovely story. Also, I love how chance meetings can turn into a relationship that inspires us over a lifetime.

Bish Denham said...

Yeah! So happy you were able to capture a moment and get it down on paper. Here's to Christmas and to a New Year. Here's to all of us who struggle, sometimes, to find the words.

Tyrean Martinson said...

I love this! It's good to reconnect with the writing and the joy of it.

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

Writing from the heart is what brings us back over and over again.

Jan Morrison said...

This is the authentic truth! Why we write. Thanks for this post. Can't wait to read your piece!

Steph W. said...

Thank you for the inspiration! It is powerful to hear the raw truth from another writer. Enjoy your holiday and your writing!

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

It reminds me how inspirational other writers can be. I'm kind of slogging along also.

Rawknrobyn.blogspot.com said...

This energizes and thrills me. I'm so happy for you, for getting your mojo back. It comes and goes, and when it revisits, it reminds us of why we need to push forward as writers.

Keep enjoying the process of it all.
Happy Holidays.

Joanne said...

Thanks for this mini-essay in itself. Your voice shines through when you are baring your soul. And yes, you can always punch it up for kicks. Good job and I hope in this season, you find some joy in photography too. Head up and soak it all in. Cheers my friend.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Liza - all the best as you continue to write - enjoying the process ... wishing you the best at this time and into next year - cheers Hilary