By Connie Hullander
SCWW Board Member
I have a confession. Until last week, I had not written a single word for nearly nine months.
If you are a writer, you know that kind of sudden withdrawal can give you the mental heebie-jeebies. Stories whirl around in your head, and you itch to get your hands back on the keyboard. The compulsion to get those tales down on paper grows stronger every minute you’re away.
This year, though, my writing addiction seemed to have disappeared. If this was “writer’s block,” I definitely suffered from the condition. I never questioned the cause. I knew the problem. My father passed away suddenly in January, leaving my ailing mother in need of all the care my brother and I could muster. I don’t mean to make anyone sad. It is sad, but all of us have faced, or will face, the death of parents or other loved ones.
Our losses may not be exceptional, but I think the way we react to them must be particular to each of us. We humans have complex relationships. Our strengths and weaknesses interact with those of our family members to form a host of dynamics and emotions as unique as we are. We might eventually cover Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’s stages of grief, but we do all do it differently. My particular set of issues caused me to shut down. I mean, the part of my brain that deals with creativity just stopped sparking.
A couple of months ago I decided I should give up writing. After all, I hadn’t become rich and famous doing it, had I? I’d wasted too much time already. And I’m terrible at marketing my work, so why bother? I dropped several on-line memberships and stopped attending critique groups. I cancelled a speaking engagement at a high school creative writing class, and put it all out of my mind.
Then last week, a friend made a reference to Robert Frost’s poem and the “road not taken.” The phrase stuck. Long after my friend and I said our good-byes, I pondered the thought and looked up the hundred year-old poem people like me still look to for inspiration. I don’t know about writing being “the path less traveled by,” but when I read the words, I kept thinking about the novel I’d planned to write nearly a year ago.
I thought of my father and how proud he’d been when I finished my first book – not that I’d published it, simply completed it – and I sat down and started to write. It was bad stuff, unimaginative and stiff, but I kept at it until I had the first chapter.
I will keep writing now. Whatever regrets I have in life, one of them will not be “the book not written.” Besides, my dad didn’t raise no quitter!
Connie Hullander was born and raised in Chattanooga, Tennessee. She completed a Master’s Degree in French at the University of Hawaii and taught high school for two years before taking a job in a home care company. She developed a new career in health care management, which kept her busy for more than twenty years.After leaving her full time position with a hospital, Connie returned to teaching French at a local community collegeand began to work on writing for publication. Her first book, Snowstorm, was published in 2010. She lives with her husband in Anderson, SC.