After a month of being up here, I started to have the urge to write again. This is a part of me that had been largely dormant for years. Like a sleeping giant resting and waiting to be awakened. Guess I had an extended period of writers block.
I was finally inspired!
So many new sights and sounds and experiences seem to have restarted, recharged my creative spark!
During the bulk of the 10 year period I spent recovering from PTSD, I wasn’t able to concentrate on reading, much less write and create new work for others to read.
If I did try to write anything creatively, it was stale like day old bread and in bits and pieces like trail mix, except it didn’t mix well or leave a good taste in the mouth.
Good writing gives the reader something they can bite into, chew on, devour. And everything I was attempting to write was words that I didn’t want to savor. I wanted to spit them out and yell, “Yuck!” And then go brush my teeth so the taste wouldn’t linger.
Since my writing skills were so rusty that nothing could get them going, not even WD-40 (because I’m from the country and that is how we “fix” everything that duct tape doesn’t work on).
I googled local writing groups. There were numerous groups, far more than I expected. Sorting through them I found one for creative nonfiction that wasn’t too far away. They were meeting the following day at a public library (which makes it a pretty safe place to meet a group of strangers), so I planned to go.
Boy, was I scared. A group of complete strangers was intimidating enough. But this was a group of writers! I wasn’t really a writer. I wasn’t actively writing. I have a lot of nerve thinking I’m a writer. Pfft.
I’ve published a little of my writing. The bulk of it was while I was a Journalism student at Baylor and covering sports for the Baylor Lariat. Since then, I’ve published a few of my old poems online on the Heal My PTSD website and this past spring, my poem, “Doll Face” was printed in a collection.
Nor was I really submitting my work. I was on the brink of having a final draft of a collection of my old poems, “Invisible Veils: Revealing the Destruction of PTSD.”
Getting ready for the meeting took some time and effort to mentally prepare for. And I wasn’t quite sure how writers were supposed to dress. Do I wear business casual? Sporty? Trendy? (Although I’m not really all that trendy these days. I’m more of a minimalist and wear a lot of black so I don’t have to put too much thought into my clothes. So that wasn’t an option.) Leisurely? Was I supposed to wear lace and a long flowing dress since I’d written poetry?
I settled on a pair of skinny jeans and a practical black v-neck, 3-quarter sleeve sweater and some black sandals my niece had given me while I was still in Texas (because she had outgrown them).
I remember walking in that meeting room, holding my breath and fidgeting my right hand. There were 2 men there and they greeted me and were very friendly. More writers started trickling in. Surprisingly, I was early, which is not like me. I like to arrive just in time, but this was a new place to find (and so I find myself having to leave earlier than I’d like to most places I go now).
During introductions, I shared that I was new to Jersey and that my intent by coming to this group was to get back into writing regularly. I wanted to turn the one story (about my recovery from PTSD) I’ve written in the past 10 years into a memoir. I wasn’t sure how I was going to do that at this point. I just knew I wanted to do it.
I was the first one to share my work since I was new. And for the first time ever, I read outloud my story of recovery, “Disorderly Life: Recovering from PTSD.”
My voice was shaky and cracked a few times. My heart was pounding. I kept my eyes down and focused on the words on the screen on my phone (since that is what I use to type most of my work if I don’t use a computer at the library) because I was too afraid to see anyone’s reaction.
When I finished reading, the entire group applauded. I was taken aback by this reaction. The writing was raw and terrible. This piece needed a lot of editing. I vaguely remember the comments, not because they weren’t good. Quite the contrary. The feedback was so positive and encouraging. I just couldn’t wrap my head around these writers applauding MY work.
The most encouraging comment came from a woman who said she could see the chapters unfolding as I read and that my story needed to be written and shared.
And that is just what I’ve been doing ever since!