essay

Checking in on my writing goals: I'm petrified to tell my own stories

Recently, I was flipping through an old notebook I use to free-write late at night. Well, at least I used to. It only took flipping a few pages back to find where I'd chronicled the time and minutes between contractions during labor with my daughter. She was born in February — of last year. 

Here we are, about six months into the year, and I've been thinking a lot about my writing goals recently. In addition to maintaining my daily news writing gig at VICE's Broadly, I've broken into a couple of new publications, including Brides.com and the newly unveiled VICE Impact. I've also been blogging regularly over at Creative Loafing Atlanta, which allows me to work with my mentor again, in addition to keeping tabs on what's happening in my home state. 

What I haven't done thus far this year, though, is place a piece that tells one of my own stories. I love narratives for the way you can play with language to paint a vivid scene that draws a reader in. It's my favorite kind of writing to read and do. 

What's holding me back, though, is that lately I haven't been so keen on the kind of self-reflection that yields a great personal narrative. Many writers keep a journal to help them work through stuff: ideas, random thoughts, even memorable conversations. But I haven't written anything for myself in almost a year.

Simply daunting.

Simply daunting.

I could blame my never-ending fight to find the time, between working and mommy-ing, but that feels like a cheap excuse. If I'm being honest with myself, I think I'm a little afraid. I don't know what I'll find once I start digging within myself. Since almost simultaneously starting this mom journey and full-time writer journey, I guess I've been nervous to check in with myself about how it's all going. 

I suppose that's what being a writer is all about: Making yourself uncomfortable for the sake of your work. And I know once I start writing, the good stuff will eventually flow out so easily. It's just a matter of getting those first few words down on paper.

Then I wonder: Do I even have interesting stories to tell? 

What I'm reading: Not a damn thing. Oh, wait, actually, we recently got a subscription to The Atlantic and the digital version of the Washington Post. What's waiting for me to read but I'm too sleepy at the end of the day to dive in? Moms Who Drink and Swear by Nicole Knepper.

When good writing makes you light-headed

Because there's never enough good writing out there tackling women's bodies, I share with you this essay by Zsofi McMullin titled "The Uterus Must Go On." In it, she confronts the fact that she won't have any more children after her doctor discovers a large fibroid.

My god. At one point, I had to take to skimming sentences to keep from passing out from the imagery. (Honestly, I have no idea how I birthed a human -- I get so light-headed when confronted with images of human trauma.) But it's such powerful writing, I reread the piece a second time, when I could stomach it.

What I love about this essay is the unapologetic rawness. The language is visceral, and the intentional gaps in narrative force you to into the writer's shoes -- when she's in the shower, when she's in the hospital. And if you're a woman, it's not hard to imagine what she's going through.

Dear world. More like this, please.