When you accidentally become your character

The real truth about life + fiction

Popping in after nine months away to make two confessions.

My first confession is this: I lied. I never taped my list of commitments on the wall next to my desk, and a couple months after pledging to embrace one of my many in-progress projects, I tapered off from working on it. It sat minimized at the bottom of my screen. Sometimes it stayed opened and untouched so long that Microsoft Word crashed. I always rebooted, reopened and re-minimized.

You guys. Microsoft Word was telling me that even it didn't believe in me anymore.

There have been some big changes in my life, which I haven't openly written about because privacy is delicious. What I'm proud of is that I'm only taking on paid work that excites me. That's the great news.

The not-so-great news is that I haven't been using the time that's opened up to create.

What have I been doing?

No, seriously. WHAT HAVE I BEEN DOING?

 Photo by  Nadim Merrikh  on  Unsplash

Have you ever reached this point, too, where you can't account for your time? I stopped being as active on social media, which, let me tell you, has been a total delight. But if I really think about it, if I sit back and peel my split ends and really think about it, I mostly wander from room to room, picking up laundry and thinking about how one day I'll need to mop the kitchen floor like a real adult.

My second confession is this: I accidentally made myself into the character I've been trying to write. She's lost and overly critical of herself and she's making big-time mistakes. That one scrap of reality morphed into a woman who hasn't done a great job as a stepmom but whom everyone seems to reassure and coddle. Someone who's married to the guy she pursued and sort of stole from another gal but now doesn't recognize his face in the morning.

I took one itty bit of my life -- feeling soul-crushingly aimless -- and grew it into a character, putting skin on her. It felt ... you guys, it felt so flipping easy that I'm wondering if I'll get away with it.

Is that all it is? Is writing as simple as being naked with yourself and poking at the wonky lump?

There are peaks and valleys in our writing lives. I think I'm headed back up to a peak, inexplicably gathering momentum as I go. Here's the question that got me there:

Who am I now, and what can I do with this?

What is happening with you, too? I want to know. Feel free to email me, if that feels safer. I'm here for you.

P.S. I've also been reading a ton, seeking out authors who don't look like me. Some of the books I've loved are below. Who else should I read?

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