For those who cannot afford therapy, I highly suggest starting a blog. Writing unlocks the secret fears and deepest wants, and nibbles away at bravado like nobody's business.
I'm working on a piece for this writing contest. I won't give away too many details, because I don't want to risk breaking the rules of the contest. Let's just say that I decided to write about my dog. I sat and wrote about her wrinkled face and her manic running in circles and it was such "Marley and Me" pablum that I wanted to sit in the shower in the fetal position, rocking back and forth, scrubbing the bad writing out of my system.
"I suck," I said to myself. "I am a joke. A fraud. A talentless hack." Then, I decided to be mad at Owen instead because he was banging something repeatedly and relentlessly.
I figured it would be better to verbally abuse my mother instead of an innocent child, so I called her. Like Annie Bates, she's my "number one fan." She told me to let it rest for awhile.
I went through the rest of the day, the bad writing piece coloring every interaction. "Joel, do you want some more peas? Since that's the only thing I'm able to do well these days..." You get the idea.
I prayed about it that night, and called some good friends. They all (God included) suggested that I Step. The. Hell. Back. and get a bit of perspective.
This morning, while driving over the big bridge, I was hit by an obvious insight: "If you don't want to write about the dog--don't."
"I know what I want to write about," my inner voice said. "But haven't I done that already? Shouldn't I be over it? It's been almost a year."
And it hit me. It's been almost a year. A year ago, I thought I would have days like this:
And, instead had this:
Although I will celebrate one year of this next Wednesday...
...my writer's voice is telling me that I still have demons to confront and things to process.
So, I'm starting a new piece. When my craft (and my faith) speaks, I listen.