Manifest Mondays are where I chat exclusively about writing and the writing life.
My earliest memory of writing as a child was being scolded for learning how to write my name and address in kindergarten. I proceeded to write it over and over on one page – both sides – because I liked the feel of the pencil in my hand and hated the look of a blank page, even at that age.
Why did I get in trouble? My Ma was paranoid that someone would find it and hurt us because it had so much private information. Information available in any public records search.
I didn’t know any better but it never discouraged me from writing.
A few years ago, I decided that writing had to be a larger part of my life. I was waffling between pursuing my MFA in Writing or disciplining myself to do it.
I ended up doing both.
I purchased Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way and got to work. I made it a point to carve the time out in my calendar and follow each chapter weekly. I committed to it, with Morning Pages and Artist’s Dates and truly living that life for a few months. I ended up not finishing because I lost the momentum, had no solid support system to turn to, and I was getting frustrated. I was knee-deep in emotions and thoughts and feelings that were brought to the surface that I wasn’t ready to deal with. It did open me up though. The potential to grow was there, and even though I wasn’t ready, I knew I could be pushed.
I decided to sit for my MFA in Writing at the University of San Francisco a couple of years ago. I completely changed my life by choosing a program in a city that was out of my element.
The experience was an eye-opener though the area was familiar. I was born in Oakland and spent many of my formative years in Union City and Fremont. My maternal grandparents are buried there. My paternal extended family remains in the Bay too. Even with these roots, it was a foreign place.
I needed that culture shock though. I needed to get out of my bubble and be around other writers who were wanting to go down this path too, who were at discrepant paths and had taken different approaches to get there. I listened to their stories and took everything to heart even if I didn’t share my own experiences enough. Everything I learned there was priceless. I would never have learned what I needed to know to be successful on my own terms without that framework.
I have been out of school for half a year now. I’m not where I want to be with my writing at the moment, truthfully. But I am making baby steps. Isn’t that the point? The new job is working out splendidly. In fact, because of what I do, I was inspired to write something new. I hadn’t done that since I moved back. I knew it was the stress of finding a job in the first place that was holding me back. Now that the ice is broken, I am eager to unleash everything on the page.
I’m not recommending one or the other when it comes to finding a way to walk down this path. Try one, try them all, or don’t. Maybe there’s an offbeat avenue out there to help unlock your writing that you have been meaning to get started on. All I’m saying is, TRY. You have nothing to lose except wondering what if.
Readers: is there a way or a piece of advice you’ve heard that you want to try with your own writing?