Can I write when I’m happy?
I had often wondered why I thought of myself as a writer and yet hadn’t written for years — years where I would scribble in notebooks half-finished essays, broken thoughts, phrases to savor, but nothing ever complete. I had workshopped a short play in the spring of 1998; I didn’t pick up a pen again until 2008. Okay, in between, I took a couple of writing workshops, and though I submitted work, short work, work I often enjoyed — I realized in the end that I didn’t have a story to tell. I was content.
Until the stock market plummeted in 2008. For the first time in that tough year, the thing that had consumed my energy for almost a decade — my job — became as surreal and far away as the idea that I used to be a writer. If, God forbid, I might be out of work, and if, in addition, I could no longer write, then what was I really all about? I had to escape, I had to calm my mind, and so I began to tell my daughters bedtime stories.
“Would you like me to tell you a story?” I asked them one night. It had been a long day, my eyes were glazed, my nerves raw, but when I saw my girls smile, I launched into some crazy yarn just to save my sanity. It was fanciful, with fairies, and it starred two little girls on a great adventure. They couldn’t get enough of it, and better yet, I didn’t want to stop. I turned it into a project for a fairy tale writing workshop with Karen Heuler, and in turn, that association with Karen and the group of writers I met through her became my lifeline of nourishment. Here was a new happiness, because I found that I had truly missed the act of expression, of discussion with like minds. Perhaps I had been content in my old non-writing, all-working life, but in fact, it had not made me truly happy.
Almost four years have passed since I spoke those first words as my children’s storyteller. And that little fairy tale might one day be a book. But more importantly, for me, this mother, wife, working lost soul might once again be…a writer.