Etude in Words

Two years ago to the month I was in the throes of a terrible bout of anxiety.  Worry had essentially taken over my life, and I spent every spare moment ruminating over and researching those matters that caused me angst. At some point during July of 2012 someone asked me, “Heather, when you are done spending all your time worrying, what are you going to do?”  I responded, “I’d like to write.” 

Another year passed and in July of 2013 I launched this blog,  Despite having an undergraduate degree in English and writing academic pieces and copy as part of my profession, it had been years since I wrote anything creative or deeply personal.  Quite frankly, despite feeling compelled to do it, the idea of harnessing my thoughts and ideas and organizing them into any sort of narrative was frightening.  In my twenties I had worked as a dancer, and receiving a  harsh criticism of a performance was never as painful as receiving negative feedback from one of my college professors on a piece of writing I had submitted.  Never are you more vulnerable than when you write.  If you write with your authentic voice, everything is exposed: your creative ability, your technique and, perhaps most frightening, your intelligence.  Even which direction your moral compass points can be gleaned through your writing. When I shared my fears about writing with my brother Sean, a writer himself, he reminded me of this famous quote by Ernest Hemingway, “There is nothing to writing.  All you do is sit down at the typewriter and bleed.”  So I opened my blog and began writing, but I wasn’t ready to bleed…not yet. 

I had conceptualized as a sort of “mommy blog” about a domestically challenged homemaker who never seemed to be able to get her shit together enough to keep up with the other suburban housewives.  I saw myself as being a Morticia Addams in a sea of June Cleavers and Donna Stones.  My plan was to have a sometimes silly, sometimes bittersweet, yet always insightful blog about my efforts to get through my days despite a variety of challenges, most of those being my own personal inadequacies. So I came up with my tagline, “living life slightly outside of the box,”  and began blogging.  And it was fun at first. 

As I continued to blog, however, I began to struggle to keep to the intended theme. It became a chore to make every post an exercise in self-deprecation.  An old familiar voice began to emerge, and I found myself sometimes venturing into topics that really didn’t quite fit with my site. In March my writing shifted.  I began working with poetry and writing essays that could no longer fit within the confines of my “mom blog.”

So, as I have grown as a writer, has grown as a blog. My goal now is not to play the role of the self-deprecating homemaker but to focus on the craft of writing itself, to use writing to find meaning when so much in life seems meaningless, and to create.  Of course I will write about my children; we are inextricably linked, and so many of my thoughts are centered on them. Limiting yourself as a writer, however, to a role, topic or theme is like taking a walk in the forest and forcing yourself to only look at the flowers while ignoring the majesty of the trees, the splendor of the sun filtering through the forest’s umbrella, the melody of the birds chirping and the gentle whoosh of leaves blowing in the breeze.   Moving forward, I will use this space not only as a mother’s place to write, but as a writer’s place to be free.

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