For more than 15 years, I’ve written and published feature articles for the equestrian and pet market. I can still remember how excited I was to get that first check. My byline in a national magazine. Intoxicating! I cashed the check and pitched another idea to my editor. She accepted.
Since that modest beginning, I’ve written hundreds of articles and penned two columns that ran consecutively for more than a decade. Most of my features ran at least 1500 words; many ran 2500-3000 words. As my daughter so wisely pointed out, it was the equivalent of writing a research paper a month! Writing feature articles was a lot of work, but hugely satisfying and the money helped pay for my horse habit.
All well and good, right? Well, yes and no. A little over a year ago, I lost my writing mojo. A laziness crept in that felt like a bad case of the flu; only this wasn’t the flu. I started sleeping late every day. I lingered over a second and third cup of coffee. I avoided my writing room like other people avoid Walmart on the weekends. My keyboard collected dust and even my Border Collie, (my tried and true writing companion) cultivated a heavy sigh.
“What is wrong with us?,” I asked the dog. She didn’t know.
We took long walks, cleaned closets, alphabetized the pantry. I cleaned the grooves in my kitchen cabinets with cotton swabs. (They work great, by the way…just dab the swab in a little polish and …well, never mind.) I turned my face away as I passed the closed door of my writing room. I missed deadlines, ignored emails from my editor. I was in a funk of the worst kind. The guilt of not writing was killing me. Writers write!
I began to walk with a limp.
One morning, while cleaning out the attic, I found a book I wrote when I was in the third grade. Although it had never been published and probably wasn’t all that good, the boys in my class were impressed that I’d written all thirty pages in cursive. I remember I’d felt like a celebrity. But, I also remembered how I wrote that book; sitting cross-legged on my Cinderella bedspread, hunched over double-lined yellow paper, writing my heart out.
Then it hit me. I wanted to be that kid. Writing her heart out all over again.
I got to work right away…uh…I mean…play. I sat cross-legged on my couch, hunched over my lined journal, and wrote a personal essay I called, One Kind of Woman. Weeks later, that essay was published in a small literary magazine and helped put the spark back in my writing.
Honor the kid in you. It’s our innocence and love for the written word that nourishes our writing and our life.