My creative soul is like a lima bean

For the first time since I started this blog three years ago, I missed a month of posting.

But the thing is… I’m not that sorry. Okay I’m a little bit sorry. But that’s all you’re getting. And this picture of Kevin Bacon, staring broodingly out a car window.

I don't even know.

I don’t even know.

Lately it’s been really difficult for me to find any time to post, or really, write much of anything. Which is unfortunate, y’know, for somebody who calls herself a writer.

But bright side: I am now employed! HOORAY, now in 40 years or so, my college degree will have paid itself off. Except for the fact that I majored in Theatre/Creative Writing and so I didn’t actually just do that math OH GOD I KNOW NOTHING.

As much of a blessing as full-time employment is, it also means that I will need to crack down hard on scheduling my writing time. I’m not gonna lie, the last thing I want to do when I get home from work is work more. Even if it’s fun work. I am not a morning person, but I feel a little like my creative soul is shriveling, much like a lima bean left in the sun to turn brown and sprout patches of white fuzz (I have fun ex-roommate stories surrounding this topic)… so maybe it’s time for me to BECOME a morning person.

I hate morning people.

Yeah, who are we kidding, that’s not happening.

Would you like to know where I’m at with Privateer? I’ll tell you, friend. I am still writing the fourth draft.

Yes. The very one I said I was wrapping up, like, three months ago. That one.

I truly admire people who have full-time jobs and write and still find time to, y’know, eat and sleep and have friends and lives and stuff. It sounds magical.

A few weeks ago, I told an acquaintance that I’m a writer, and he said, “Do you write 2 hours every day?”

I blanked. That’s not the typical response. Usually, it’s like, “Oh, cool. What do you write?” or “No way, my aunt’s best friend’s cousin is also a writer! Allow me to tell you all about his book because you totally care probably!”

So I told this acquaintance that I write a mere 1 hour per day, which, admittedly, was still stretching the truth a bit. And he looked at me, he gave me this look, and he said, “Well you know, writers write.”

And I said, “GO SWANDIVE OFF A CLIFF INTO A LAKE OF FIRE” (in my mind).

Because he’s right.

Writers write. And to be completely honest with y’all, I have been spending the last few months growing more and more afraid of this truth. Actually, I’ve felt so many different freakin’ emotions since I graduated that it’s a really good thing I wasn’t documenting them here; I know this because I recently have been rereading my journal entries from June and July and they are pitifully melodramatic and embarrassing on so many levels.

I don’t want to talk about my emotional color wheel. But I do want to talk about how many times I have told people, “I am a writer,” only to realize recently that a.) I have been writing less than 1 hr/day and b.) the thing I have been writing is the same thing I’ve been working on for the past 3 years, since I started the first draft when I was 19.

I don’t want to talk about how incredibly indignant I was when that acquaintance said, “Writers write,” because that just goes to show how frustrated I currently feel about not being the kind of person who can say, “I finished that novel I wrote in college, and am working on my next.”

I want to talk about how I have started introducing myself as a USC Trojan, a recent college grad, a theatre geek, a book nerd, a social media addict… Literally anything but a writer.

Because I don’t know when I started doing it.

I am not going to stop writing. It’s part of who I am. My dream is still to hold one of my novels, bound and published, in my hands. I write journal entries with dialogue tags. I still carry a mini Moleskine around with me wherever I go, even if it’s now half-full of staff meeting notes and passwords because I forgot my work notepad.

I give up.

There is some beauty to this situation—I get to learn to fall in love with writing all over again. I feel like writers have to do this every few months or so anyway, but right now, I’m a little bit numb to everything. I am settling. I am new-life-experience’d out. I don’t particularly want to start a new project, nor do I want to continue my old one.

But eventually, I will.

One thing I have learned over the years is that the writer’s itch never really goes away. And I guess I can take comfort in that, because no matter what, no matter how much I doubt my ability to do this work, I know that the urge to make stuff up will always be there. My need to manipulate language, to find the best way to say something, to discover 20 imperfect ways to talk about a subject, only to find the perfect metaphor on attempt #21.

When I was at my theatre internship this summer, I was asked by a coworker if I could articulate why I write—fiction, specifically. I told him that I think we write down made-up stories to tell the truths we wish we could say out loud. I think we write fiction to help each other talk about worlds that are too painful, too beautiful, too difficult to casually mention in everyday conversation.

That’s why fiction is important. That’s why we connect with fiction. That’s why we love it.

Unfortunately, it’s not the “why” I’ve been having trouble with lately. It’s the when. And the how. And the what.

I’m getting there. It might take a while, and another couple of months off-blog. But we’ll see.

Samantha Chaffin

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8 thoughts on “My creative soul is like a lima bean

  1. deshipley says:

    Maybe part of being a writer is not being able to write all the time and sometimes feeling like shriveled-lima-bean-souled not-a-writer because of it. I’ve been known to go a few weeks between projects and beat myself up as a has-been. I wouldn’t be at all shocked to learn that all the most passionate writers are stupid tough on themselves.

  2. Alyssa says:

    Wow, you’ve been working on Privateer for three years! That perseverance is just *incredible*; past the one-year mark, my attention inevitably deteriorates. I’m sure you’ll be able to finish it, though (and I hope to read the rest someday!)

    1 hour/day is pretty good! Since it’s the summer, I’m literally spending entire afternoons writing, but once school starts and the stuff I’ve ignored in the past two months come back, I’m terrified I won’t have enough time to write. (Of course, there *is* always maths class …)

    • samchaffin says:

      Haha, you and I are one and the same. I was always that girl jotting down story notes while the teacher was talking about something completely irrelevant. Like math. Pff. Math…

      Also, thanks so much for your encouragement! 🙂 I definitely understand how it feels to get bored or exhausted of a project, but this book has really been different than any other one for me. I’ve never revised any of my past novels, so I’m learning as I go with this one!

  3. Brie says:

    “A few weeks ago, I told an acquaintance that I’m a writer, and he said, “Do you write 2 hours every day?”

    I blanked. That’s not the typical response. Usually, it’s like, “Oh, cool. What do you write?” or “No way, my aunt’s best friend’s cousin is also a writer! Allow me to tell you all about his book because you totally care probably!”

    So I told this acquaintance that I write a mere 1 hour per day, which, admittedly, was still stretching the truth a bit. And he looked at me, he gave me this look, and he said, “Well you know, writers write.”

    And I said, “GO SWANDIVE OFF A CLIFF INTO A LAKE OF FIRE” (in my mind).

    Because he’s right. ”

    ahahahahahahah!!!!!

    You keep me encouraged. I don’t what I would do if someone told me that. Most people tend to react this way.
    “I’m a writer”
    They look at me like I am an alien. Or they ask what I’m working on and sometimes my family asks when it will be done.

    I don’t like those types of questions. I know deadlines can help…but what I like to do is go off on tangents related to my stories…to discover things about my stories as I talk things out…even vaguely related things. If only there were people who wanted to carry out such conversations.

    Anyway be encouraged. It’s nice that you’ve worked on the story for 3 years. Some authors spend 10 years on one book. What might help you if you feel stuck is to start a new book and come back to that one. But I feel like you’re very attached to Privateer..so my prayers go out to you that your journey on that historical sea be wonderful.

    Don’t forget to take time to relax and feed your mind.

    • samchaffin says:

      Thanks so much, girl. I totally relate to the questions you get asked. It’s hard being a writer sometimes – but when you find people who understand and love stories just as much as you do, it makes it a lot more worth it. 🙂

      And yes! Relaxing and reading is definitely what I plan to do for at least a week. Especially since I also just moved. Again. *sighs* It never ends.

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