Blog Chain Time!

Posted: February 2, 2009 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

Once again, the lovely ladies of the Query Tracker/ Rally Storm blog chain offer our (very different) takes on a subject.  Terri started out this topic, so follow the link to start at the beginning of the chain!  Another link and thus, another take on the topic, will be added every day! Heather is going after me and her post will be here.

This chain’s topic is:  Have you ever had anything cause you to step back from writing? If so, what was the cause and how long did it take you to get back into the swing of things? If not, do you have any advice for other writers about not letting life get in the way of writing?

Terri was concerned that her question was too much like Elana’s (see my link in the chain here…) about how you get out of a writing funk, but I really thought they were two very different ideas.  

When I was nineteen or so, I had a life changing year.  I met the amazing  , who has singlehandedly done more for my writing than other other person in my life.  We met at the community college we were both going to at the time, and wound up taking a creative writing course together (I use taking in the loosest of terms…Lege was my "guest"…every class.  I think he even started turning in assignments).  For a few glorious months we livesleptatebreathed writing.  We reviewed others work, and used critical thinking to review.  We brainstormed.  We wrote really bad emo poetry.  It was the best of times…. . 

Then I moved cross country. 

  I’d love to say that I missed writing, that I pined for words and had oodles of backlogged stories begging to be penned (we didn’t own a computer), but really?  I found other things to do.  I fell in love with caving, the outdoors.  I camped and rock climbed and trudged up parts of Pike’s Peak, which was LITERALLY our frontyard.  I ran the children’s programs at the cave I worked at and taught kids about geology and read Stellaluna to four-year-olds.  I was young and in love and having fun.

I remember only two things written during that time.  One was a prompt that my friend Jenny and I did.  We told each other three objects that had to be included in our story.  Mine were an ankh, a train and a butterfly wing if I’m not mistaken.  The other thing I wrote was a children’s story about caving.  Someone in our caving club heard the idea and gave me a check for what seemed at the time to be a huge amount of money.  She wanted me to know she supported me, wanted me to work on the story.  It was the first time I was ever paid to write, one of my proudest moments, but I never saw a dime of it.  The money was spent by the ex for paints.  He never illustrated the book though and without that enthusiasm the project died.  In the end though, it was being told in no uncertain terms that I had a good idea that flickered some life back into the writing dream.  When I get published, she’ll be on that acknowledgements page.  I promise.

Time passed.  I wised up, broke up, packed up.  Lege offered me the empty room in his apartment and I came back home.  I still didn’t write.  It took two years or so before I realized I wanted to write a book.  That I wanted to do it for real.  At the same time, that was the way it needed to be.  I don’t think writing gets in the way of life, or life gets in the way of writing.  It may sound corny, but writing IS life and not in the inspirational Nike commercial kind of way, but in the sense that you need to experience things, shake thing up, LIVE and mine those times for all they’re worth. 

I left writing.  I came back.  It was still there.  I don’t think being able to write is something that abandons you or fades away.  It’s something you chose. Something you decide to make important.  Something you fight for, and HARD.  You scrounge minutes, half scenes scribbled at red lights and during nap times.  Life sometimes gets complicated, and we’re forced to step back from writing.  Just make sure you remember to step forward again.

  1. Anonymous says:

    I love this post and completely agree – writing IS something you fight for…

  2. smua says:

    Sounds off you’re much better off without HWSNBN. At the same time, sometimes it’s good to step back and experience life; otherwise, what would you have to write about?

    • leahclifford says:

      Exactly, you’ve got to do stuff. You’ve got to read and live and take things in so that you can put things out. Don’t overdraw from the well without putting something back in!

  3. hldyer says:

    I love this glimpse into your life. And caving sounds like a fabulous thing to fall in love with.
    Although I had no idea you used to date Lord Voldemort…

    • leahclifford says:

      Yes, it’s a little known face that me and Voldie dated for three years. In fact, I’m pretty sure it was our break-up that pushed him over the edge. Sorry ’bout that.

  4. katekquinn says:

    Wow. That last paragraph just says it all.
    I’ve left writing and come back to it so many times, but right now is really the first time in my life where I have actively chosen it and decided to make it important enough to fit it into my everyday life.

  5. elanajohnson says:

    Wow, Leah, this is an awesome post. I also enjoyed the little window into your life. I appreciated the lines “I left writing. I came back. It was still there.” Sometimes I feel so impatient in my life, like I can’t take even one day away from writing, or I won’t come back. I’ve since learned that I can, and I do, but it’s a good reminder for me during these impatient times. Thanks!

  6. elknutswife says:

    Well, Elana always says it better than I do 🙂 I also love that line. I’ve stepped away from writing many times…in fact, I’ve spent more time ignoring writing than actually trying to do it. It is more of a job for me than something I HAVE to do…although that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy it, because I do. 🙂 But during the times I am not writing, I fill my life with other things I love. And the story I am working on right now is loosely (with lots of fun embellishments 😀 ) based on a period of my life that was just beyond crazy. At the time it was a mess….but now…great story fodder 😀 What more could I ask for?

  7. Anonymous says:

    Loved this. What a cool person you are. Funny how the things in our lives that are the most messed up end up being the catalysts for the best things–or at least the things that make us appreciate who we are and what we want. Glad writing was still there when you came back.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Crap. I posted as anonymous, accidentally.

  9. Anonymous says:

    …in the sense that you need to experience things, shake thing up, LIVE and mine those times for all they’re worth.
    This is such a poignant post. Isn’t it funny how a writer has to build character in order to create them?
    Kat Harris

  10. Anonymous says:

    Oh, I can relate to having to live with an are-TEEST, and a legend in his own mind, who really spent most of his energy quashing my creativity. Let’s drink a toast to these gentlemen having passed into the past!

  11. What an incredibly amazing story. I’ve heard it all over time in little snatches and fits and starts, but never all at once. Long story short, I know what it’s like living with someone who won’t let you be creative. When I was with Joe I had to abandom my music because basically he was threatened by it. That sounds retarded/egotistical or something but there is really no other way to explain it. Anyway, that’s a story for another time. Thinking of you today, you have all my best wishes. 🙂

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