Guest Post – Elizabeth Howard

Trying to Put Down the Writing Tools

Why, oh, why God, do I do this to myself?

Let me preface this by saying: I am a writer. Which figures into the upcoming conversation.

Do you know what I all need less of?

Time with myself.

I’ve been blogging for years and I get so BORED talking and thinking about myself. It’s boring.

I read Stereo*’s post "Back to Basics" and a deep sense of longing went through me.

Lately, everytime I sit down to TRY and write something on my blog, I just think UGH: Why oh WHY God?? Do I have to?

It’s rolled downhill as well. I’ve recently been taking intermittent breaks from Facebook as well. I can’t seem to think of a single thing to write about myself on my status update other than: Trying to think of a status update…

I’ve become a Facebook troller, just scrolling and reading and "liking" shit, like a complete asshole.I hate myself. WHY oh WHY God can’t I think of a decent Facebook status????

My life has changed somewhat since last summer, when I finally bit the bullet and decided to quit teaching writing and be a stay-at-home-mom to my four kids until they are all finally fully in school. (Sheesh, who wrote THAT crappy run-on sentence?) And that leads me to another question I ask myself quite often:

Why oh why God did I do that??

I mean, all work can be drudgery at times. That’s the nature of doing something repetitive.  But making lunches and doing dishes and being alone with small kids — for me? — well that’s got to the be the heighth of brain-numbing boredom.

It’s also exceptionally important and necessary as well. It’s a job that shapes human beings, for chrissake! I should bow down in awe of my role everyday (hah!). It’s hard to do well, and I wonder all the time if I could be doing better.

And fuck yes, it’s lonely.

Part of the reason I logged off Facebook for awhile was because I felt lonely even when I was with the kids and I would catch myself hopping on Facebook even while in their company. Idiotic. Besides. It didn’t help. I think it made me even more lonely, pining for friends I didn’t have nearby.

And the kids felt me being distant too.

I didn’t want my kids to always see me staring at my phone.

Seriously. Have you ever WATCHED people staring at their phones? They look like scary zombies from a sci-fi movie.

And you know, my littlest one, she was always, always carrying around her play cell phone. Hmmmm. Why was that, do you think?

So here are these kids, and I have my blog I don’t want and I haven’t worked on a novel in years, and I’m starting to get freaked by my blog.

So my existential crisis was that I am a writer who suddenly just wants to put down her tools.

Why oh why God?

Here’s what must have happened though: I guess I had stopped writing for awhile since the kids came to live with us 3 years ago (they are foster kids we are trying to adopt). I put aside work on my novel and my journalism career as well.  I was teaching, anyway, which had already started to draw my attention away from my own writing and focus toward others.

Now I turned my focus on these people who needed me, just so I could get their heads and hearts straight. And I had to get mine on straight too. Also, there was a LOT of clothes to sort through and food to cook and clean up every friggin day

During that time, my blog was a safe place for me to just keep my writing machine oiled I guess. It was a facade for a long time, an honest one, though not a true one. I couldn’t be true, because I didn’t REALLY know what the hell was going on!

I had to deflect for a long time because my mom hands are very busy.

Now they have settled into routines and relaxed into life, that place feels odd. I wonder: Why do want to put down these writing tools? 

I question.

Why do I wake up at 4:15 am. in a panic, to write?

Why am I not ready to just thrust myself back at that work?

Why DID I even volunteer to write this guest post?

(I guess the writing tools are not interested in being put down.)

Lately, I’ve been deflecting again, in a good way, with poetry. It’s an old habit I’ve rekindled with success! Shorter writing for shorter spans of time.

I suppose that what’s called evolution?

3 thoughts on “Guest Post – Elizabeth Howard

  1. Tracy Mangold says:

    I feel the same way – especially in regards to Facebook. I hate it. I really should just quit it. Some days it just makes me feel so crappy and alone – just like you say. So I ask why I even put myself through it. I find out things I wish I had not. And then there are the fun times on it with people I have lost track. So happy to be in touch again with them but is it worth it really? Not sure.   I miss writing. I miss the days – pre-computer – pre-social networks. Things seemed simpler, easier, more open – possible. It’s a double-edge sword, I guess.  I keep putting off my writing. I keep doing “other things” and I know I should  be writing, honing, working. I also feel the same way about my blog. Some days I just could care less and have nothing to say and then – boom! words demand to be written. One never can tell from one day to the next what the muse has in store for us. GREAT post, Elizabeth!

    1. I really loved both this post & your response. Because I get it. Whilst I cuss at my manuscript and make lunches for the kids.

  2. Mrsmediocrity says:

    As humans, we cannot help but make the grass a little greener. I love this, it touches on so much of the realities of life, of being a mother, of being an artist. They are all hard, each in their own unique way. Priorities are always shifting and we are always evolving. My son is just about to move out for the second time (at 26). A new phase for me and my husband.
    I also think social media is changing our lives in ways we haven’t caught up with yet. Not all bad, but not all good either. It’s just the times we live in. By the time your kids are grown, it will all be different again. It’s a good thing we are so adaptable 😉

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