I carried my cup of coffee and sank into my chair by the window where I write. It was over. No more assignments, no more deadlines, no more listening for the mail truck's familiar sound, no ripping open my assignment to see how I'd done, no more letters of praise from my instructor to feed my approval addiction.
My course manual, Breaking Into Print, still lay on my footstool where it had been for almost two years now. I opened it to the first assignment, a five-hundred word description of a person. Five-hundred words? How in the world was I going to come up with five hundred words to write about one person? I remembered my initial anxiety. I sighed. Yesterday, I'd received my last assignment. I'd finished the whole course, and I'd written thousands of words. I lifted the huge manual off the stool and gingerly placed it beside my chair with all the other books I'd gathered throughout the course.
I'd finished, so what was that feeling that kept nagging at me? A sadness I'd not felt in a long time. It's not right. I should be happy, celebrating, whooping and jumping--I wasn't. I felt like sobbing right there in my coffee.
The door flew open, banged against the wall, and there they came, a whole flock this time. "Oh no, not you again." I moaned. They were back, those dreaded writing vultures. "No!" I covered my head with my arms and kicked at the air. "Go away"--they didn't. They perched on the lamp shades, the fireplace mantel, the end table, one sat on my shoulder and jabbed at my cheek. "Oww, quit that, you're hurting me." One landed on my keyboard and shat.
"Now put your books away, dearie, and forget this foolishness." Edwin said. He was the worst, an in your face kind of bird, bigger than the rest. He hung out with a scrawny little bird named Gertrude, his girlfriend I suppose, a bird that has a mouth on her that could make the dead sit up and take notice.
"But, I thought...I thought, I'd maybe, maybe, write a book, or my memoir." There, I'd said it.
"Did you hear that, Edwin, miss uppity over here's gonna write a book. Ha, ha, ha. You, you? The one that thought indie writers were writers from India, the one who uses so much purple prose you could puke." Gertrude mocked and pointed, doubling over laughing.
"Come on guys, I did well, my instructor said so."
"She was just being nice. Edwin cocked his head and sidled closer. "Look at the stuff you've sent out and no response. Sure you published a few things. You just got lucky that's all."
I pulled out the fly swatter hidden beside my chair for those pesky misquotes that find their way inside and slapped at those pesky birds. They scooted and dodged, took flight, and perched on the ceiling fan, watching my every move. I slumped in my chair and stared at the blank screen. Nothing. I needed support! I logged into my writing forum and there it was. Someone had finished a book and the moderator said. "Watch out for the writers blues." Writers blues? What is writers blues? I had to find out.
I sat up straight. "Hey guys, listen to this," I said.
"Writer's blues are like postpartum blues, that sadness women get after a child is born. After finishing a long project such as writing a book or memoir there's a feeling of sadness, a grief for that journey that has ended. After all we're the only ones who can write that story, no one else can create that book, that article, that short story. We gave birth to those words, they're part of us," I said.
"It's all boloney, right Gertrude?" Edwin took flight, and landed on my chair back. Gertrude nodded with a big grin on her red and white beak. The others cheered, "yuh-hu!"
I swallowed hard and continued reading.
The best way to beat the blues is keep writing, if we don't, we'll feel worse about ourselves. I know, we're afraid we'll never get unstuck. We think our writing is horrible and unreadable, not a good place to be. Some of us can even abandon writing because of it, but there are others who glide right through it without much crisis of confidence.
Read good writing and allow ourselves to feel what we're feeling. John Steinbeck once said, "In utter loneliness a writer tries to explain the inexplicable."
Rejections don't mean we're not good. It means the story didn't fit the needs of that editor and that particular magazine. Turn them into motivation, and move forward.
The best thing we can do is to keep writing, a sentence, a paragraph, a page, every day; no one else has lived our lives and gathered our experiences to be processed into stories. The good news is, it's temporary. "Hear that, vultures, this will pass, now, shoo! Skedaddle!"
I went back to that dark screen and started this story.
The vultures chattered in the background. Gertrude and Edwin sighed, "She's on to us. Come on gang, let's go." Edwin gave me one last jab to the back of my head. "Ouch!" They swooped back through the door slamming it as they went. But not before leaving black feathers that swirled around my head and landed on my keyboard, a sobering reminder that they'd be back.
copyright © 2014
Virginia (Jenny) Sturgill, an RN who lives in Louisville, Kentucky, has been published in Kentucky Explorer, Page & Spine, Long Story Short, The Storyteller and has an upcoming story in The Enchanted File Cabinet.