Longleaf Stories

full circle in the hundred acre wood

There was that time, that once upon a, when I sat on a sofa with my broken foot propped up and old writing journals scattered all around, laptop on lap reading posts from my original blog, Switched At Birth, and decided it would be okay to call myself A Writer.

Those five minutes lasted about five years. I submitted, was published occasionally, even once in The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature and once in Brevity: A Journal of Concise Literary Nonfiction.

I was on fire with the joy of it, this unlikely passion coming on in my mid-fifties. I could imagine this new conversation sustaining me into extreme old age. For a few years, I read everything, wrote everything, started a novel and sketched out plots and characters for three more, started a memoir, signed up for (and never went to) writer’s workshops, signed up for (and only went once) a local writing group.

And it just dribbled away, somehow. Some things were external, like agreeing to help my husband with the mechanics of writing a book when I was in the middle of my own — I learned a degree’s worth of practical knowledge in novel-writing, but the energy drain cannot be denied — all momentum on my project stopped; or a stock market crashing into our retirement that introduced caution at all levels for a while; or my beloved’s diagnosis with a rare form of lymphoma from which he has thank God recovered.

Other culprits were internal. At some level, I simply clutched. And quit.

So this honesty on the page makes me a little nervous. Any of you who have hop-scotched around over the years to find where I might be blogging at a given moment know this is my pattern: come out into the sunshine, onto the small stage, wave a sunny hello, do a little dance, perhaps a reading, show a few pictures and then — nothing. I never call. I never (almost never) write.

A post or two on New Year’s Day is too easy. But I’ve changed the battery in my dead writing practice and it seems there may be life in the old girl yet. Time will tell.



8 thoughts on “A New Battery for the Dead Writing Practice

  1. vjwilder says:

    I’m happy to hear this, Beth. I appreciate your willingness to let us see your process, which sometimes includes not writing. I’ve been through my own similar yo-yo writing process and have come to accept that this is what I do. OK then. This is what you do, I am always happy to hear from you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Beth says:

      So good to hear from you, Vera. And thanks for helping me retain perspective and realize there’s no need for implied apologies. I may borrow your line: “This is what I do. It’s my process.”


  2. It’s like one of my yoga teachers told me when I confessed to not practicing for a long time. “that’s why it’s called a ‘practice’”, she said.


    1. Beth says:

      Thank you for visiting and taking the time to react. (Thinking of your recent post, I appreciate virtual conversations greatly.) Wise teacher. I know that when I keep a daily writing practice, however paltry or voluminous, when I return to reread after a little while, tiny sparkles jump at me through the grit, little bits of flash to string together. I’m always surprised at the way my subconscious just goes along doing it’s own thing, busy as a bee.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. dclaud says:

    Beth: You don’t have to write constantly to be a fine writer, which you most definitely are. It’s a real talent to be able to reach down deep and share what you’re feeling with others and you do it again and again — and poignantly. That you don’t do it religiously, makes no difference whatsoever. Now that I don’t have to write to put bread (and butter) on the table, I sometimes go for weeks without writing anything other than emails and the occasional FB post. Write when you have the urge. You’ll always have me (and lots of others) as an audience. And if it’s not published in The New Yorker, well join the crowd.


  4. Beth says:

    You’re a gift to me, David.


  5. Phil says:

    I’m one who’s hop-scotched to find you, and it’s alway rewarding. I would also like to re-engage, but it always seems a bit beyond my grasp. I’ll keep coming back here.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Beth says:

      Thank you, Phil. Thank you.


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