2020 was a very, very bad year. For all of us.
I will never refer to this period in history as “good.” Nothing “good” has come from all this. Good things did happen to many people unrelated to the bad, sure. Hopefully you were one of them.
However, there is one thing that tragedy after tragedy can lead to for those willing to listen: It does have the power to remind us what matters most. What we really care about. What we really stand for in this life. What we can and will do anything to change, to preserve, to save.
I, for example, was quite unkindly reminded that creativity and emotion are vitally linked. Strong emotions fuel creative expression, which inspires strong emotions, and ideally, the cycle continues.
Sometimes it doesn’t.
Like the rest of you, I had big plans for 2020. And even after lockdown, after the many awful things that followed, I didn’t realize I was losing hold of my emotional health until something came along to give me one final push off the edge of “fine.”
Things spiraled so out of control that I ended up doing the one thing I never thought I’d do again: I stopped posting to my blog.
My writing, with the exception of assignments and other projects, almost completely stopped altogether.
What scared me most, a week or so into my “break,” was that I found I didn’t miss it. Blogging. Writing. Not even a little bit. I wanted nothing to do with it.
I went to work. I checked things off my to-do list. I went to bed early. There were no stories in my heart. There wasn’t anything there, really.
To be completely honest, I considered — more than once — the possibility of writing one more post here, a farewell to over a decade of documenting my life as a writer and helping others discover and act on their passion for writing, and then nothing else ever again.
I almost said goodbye to this — to writing to all of you, not because I couldn’t, but because at the time, I no longer wanted to. A huge part of me even believed I no longer had anything valuable to say, that the excruciating effort it would have taken to continue wouldn’t have been worth it.
That’s how I knew the world, at least temporarily, had truly broken me.
Since 2009, I’ve blogged through breakups, job rejections, losing loved ones, through devastating periods of poor mental health. I kept blogging through the first few months of this global pandemic. I rightfully paused during the George Floyd protests, but still, despite the overall decline of the year for all of us … I kept writing. Because that’s what I do. That’s how I deal with chaos. Writing is my light, it is how I find my way through everything.
I won’t go into details about what finally defined my breaking point back in early September. But I will share with you this: It felt wrong to stop. At the time, I also didn’t care.
The world and the people in it broke my creative spirit. My love for writing, my connection to the creative energy that seems to always hum through me, for a while it just … wasn’t there.
It took a few months for me to realize two very important things:
- It’s OK to lose your love for writing.
- You can always search for and find it again. Eventually.
You can’t put a deadline on it. You can’t predict when it might happen.
But give it time, and one day you will feel that sense of joy again — you will think of a story, it will bind itself to your soul, and once more, you will feel whole.
I was excited to sit down and write this. Not excited about being vulnerable again, not thrilled about feeling like I have to make my first post in months this huge deal.
But I couldn’t wait to return to this thing I used to do almost every day (though this won’t be a daily thing again for quite a while, if ever — it turns out I do have limits).
The moment I opened this blank page to write, I smiled.
Putting words into the void for you warms me in a way I didn’t expect. I’ve spent so many years doing exactly this, and loving it 95% of the time, that it has taken stopping and then doing it again to realize that writing about writing to a bunch of writers on these pages is what makes me feel like I’m home.
This is right. This is necessary. This is where I want to be.
I did promise in my hiatus post that I wouldn’t return until I found my spark again.
It feels so good to be where I know I belong, so full of hope despite … everything.
The world is still scary and the problems we dealt with in the last calendar year haven’t magically gone away. But I no longer feel trapped in doubt and uncertainty. I’m finding my way out of it through writing, and in doing that, I’ve found my way back to you.
At various points throughout your life, you, too, will lose your spark.
Words will feel flat. Pointless. Empty.
You’ll stop caring.
But your spirit has a way of rising up out of your despair to drag you out of the worst of your pain.
You will have ideas again. You will get excited about putting them into words again.
That, if nothing else, I can absolutely guarantee.