For years, I’ve tried keeping a blog, writing stories and poems, keeping up a journal, and writing large projects. For the most part, I’ve been successful on a scholarly basis, and in writing creatively for occasions – birthdays, anniversaries, and the like. But a sustained creative effort for completing a chapbook of poetry, for instance, or for a selection of essays or stories has eluded me.
The personal struggle for me has been marked by making a choice between devotion to art and commitment to my family. Whenever I’ve chosen to devote myself to my art, I’ve felt undue pressure from family and friends to give them attention that draws me away from that art, rather than some kind of understanding that I’m pursuing something that enlivens me and is wrapped up in self-definition.
It’s much more than just lacking support. I’ve also had opportunities to write, but why have I not, or why have I started and abandoned project after project? Why is what I write not good enough? Who are those critics, those voices in my head, that keep me from writing?
I’m now at a point in my life where I don’t have those obstacles and have a supportive partner. But I still feel that if I dive deeply enough into this work – especially into the memoir about my family – I’ll face undue pressures to choose between being true to my work and choosing to leave that be and keep my family intact.
The forces in question have stopped my expression in many ways, drawing me away from my work. I’ve been fired from a job due to a boss’s sexist agenda, my work taken from me just as I was gaining some accolades. I had another job taken from me once I achieved recognition from a parent organization (I had a job in a science lab and redid their website and was contacted by the National Institutes of Health office that oversaw our grant who were so enthusiastic about my efforts that they wanted to use the materials in their own PR efforts). I’ve had many projects which required some buy in from a spouse, who would be all enthusiastic in the first days and then want nothing to do with the project after the first week – a situation that continued for almost 15 years until the end of that relationship. And I’ve had family members basically reject me and my efforts, which always floored me considering we were raised in an environment to express mutual support and admiration of artistic efforts.
So my road to the writing life has been a long lonely one, filled with obstacles, about which I am actively writing.
I will get beyond these blocks and make a name for myself.