Thursday, September 6, 2012

Writer's Block

When I was younger, a long, long time ago, in a house that didn’t have fancy things like a computer or the Internet or Blogger, I scrawled my ideas on notebook paper in the forms of silly stories and poetry and carefully composed my thoughts in a little purple diary with a tiny lock on the side.
Sometimes I think I did better back then than I do now. There’s something oddly gratifying about the scribble of a freshly sharpened pencil lead against clean, white paper that doesn’t happen with keyboard clicking. Not to mention there was significantly less eye strain.
My first story, inspired by R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps series, was titled “The Horror of the Bunkin Party.”
What is a ‘bunkin’, you ask?
Well, you see, people in the south tend to leave the g’s off the ends of their words, such as when they say something like, “I’m fixin’ to go to the store” or “I’m gettin’ some bacon cause I’m cookin’ turnip greens.”
My mother, a true southern gal, referred to sleepovers as ‘bunking parties’, and I assumed that ‘bunkin’ was just some sort of adjective that described a sleepover where you made pumpkin buns or something.
When I finally discovered the error, I promptly changed the title of my story to “The Horror of the Sleepover.” Cause, you know, I’m so original.
The story was hilarious. I think. I don’t really remember it. (If I have any regrets in my life, it is only that I don’t still have that story.)  I just remember giggling to myself as I wrote it and reread it a thousand times.
All my young life I dreamt of being a writer, not knowing that a writer is simply one who writes. I was a writer – I just didn’t know it. When an idea hit me, I stopped what I was doing to go write it down. I would get up in the middle of the night to write down a dream so I wouldn’t forget. I’d write down silly things that made me laugh, and it all brought me a great deal of enjoyment.
It’s easy to take a hobby too seriously and forget that it’s fun, that you actually love it. When you’ve so tightly woven something into your identity, it can feel like a chore. You think you have to do it perfectly all the time or it’s no longer a part of your definition.
My fifth-grade self knew that the thoughts didn’t have to flow out in flawless fashion. Even if it’s goofy, even if no one reads it, even if it doesn’t make a difference in the world, it’s still okay to write it. Even if it has a really bad title.
It’s what I would do…when I was younger.

Mama’s Losin’ It