Yes, I am still alive and very much still breathing.
It has been months since I last typed out a new blog post. And, even over at my Medium, the last post was posted on August 11 and it took all summer to write.
The question is what is going on with me and my writing? The answer is I don’t know. I know, it’s a lot.
A friend of mine recently asked me this same question. We did a catch up phone call as we haven’t seen each other since, well, who knows but when we last saw each other we were able to hug and stand closer than 6 ft. She asked me about my writing. Her writing life was going well. She hustles hard for her opportunities and it’s exciting to watch.
Me: I stopped writing but I’m feeling I’m getting back to it soon. I want to come back on my own terms and figure out where I fit in the writing world.
That is only partially true. The part about coming back on my own terms is. The part about coming back soon isn’t.
I suppose this is the part of this post where I must provide context. That, dear readers, makes me pause. Not sure how or when this all started.
I’ve not been feeling much about writing. As I’ve seen and read friends get publishing deals and big name lit mag credentials, I felt myself slipping. Was I comparing myself to other’s success? A bit. However, I would quickly snap out of it. My path has always been different and continues to be different. Sometimes harder, sometimes easier, yes, but different.
But, for some reason, I could not come back to the page. Even reading was difficult. I just couldn’t read a book. Any kind of book. Even favorites. Journal entries came out as a couple of lines or a half page at most.
Burned out. I was burned out. I believe that is what it was.
My horoscope/favorite social media card reading guide would say that it was a period of transition where I looked at things that I once loved and really considered whether they served me anymore.
My identity, he said during a reading, was changing.
And, indeed, it was. I had less patience for things. What I wanted changed. I wanted simplicity, a type of minimalism that was not as extreme as the practice of minimalism. A cleanse maybe?
That started with little things. Spending less. Dealing without if I didn’t really need it. Appreciating and looking for consistency over flashy. Thinking about what I’d like my future to look like, what roles would be good and what roles I would like to avoid. Learning new things for the joy.
I took up running for health reasons and now for a safe place to exist. Out on the road, trail, track, etc it’s just me, my tunes, my breath. I don’t have to answer to anyone and it’s an opportunity to feel proud of myself again, some of the things that writing use to do for me.
And as this burn out progressed I kept asking myself when I would return to the page?
I’d open up a story I was working on. Read through it. Liked what I saw. Closed it. Went for a run.
I’d check out an ebook from the library open it. Close it. Went for a run.
My summer was run, sleep, eat and repeat. This felt like respite. Safe. A warm hug. I learned about running using YouTube videos. I stopped fearing food because it would make me gain weight and started looking at food as fuel. Mid-afternoon naps were common and I relished in them. I stayed hydrated. And sane.
I released the guilt of not writing, not creating, during the only times in the 12 month calendar that was truly mine. As a professor, I only get six weeks of uninterrupted time off from work. Six weeks of no grading or designing a class or teaching. In short…no one needed anything from me.
But I needed me. I needed me to eat well, rest well, and run well. I needed me to see my distance improve, to get stronger and faster, to feel like I’m flying.
I needed me to breathe.
So, I didn’t write. Haven’t written at all during my six weeks. I haven’t even edited anything I’ve written.
Do I miss it? Yes. The stories don’t stop popping into my head. I’m still a storyteller after all.
But I’m finding my way back into my writing. Slowly. On my terms.
I started with the blog post.
Then a panel: The Critic is Essential: A Latinx Arts Critics Panel
Then reading. I’m currently reading “Klara and the Sun”. Slowly but it’s happening.
Then it’s going to my Medium post drafts and looking at what needs finishing.
Then it’s teaching writing for WriteSpace in 2022 (some cool classes planned!)
Then it’s showing up, some how, as an editor or reader to help birth stories into the world.
Submitting? Creating? Finishing projects? That’s coming. I know it is. I can’t put a date on it but just like I found my way back to other parts of writing, back to the keyboard, I’ll find my way back.
When I’m ready. And not a mill-second sooner.
But first this blog post. It’s a start. Just like a run, you start slow to build up speed.
Here I go.
Starting my long run,