2013 was a pretty dry spell for me. A very busy year in my professional life at the library, I seemed to suffer from writers block for my personal endeavors.
An aside: I was at a party a couple months ago with a bunch of Blues dancers, and I met a couple who are freelance writers and bloggers. The woman was upbeat and philosophical about what it means to work for yourself and how writing-for-a-living has the potential to turn writing into a chore– it becomes less freeing and enjoyable on occasion than writing-for-yourself. Her boyfriend/significant other, who was admittedly recovering from a sinus infection or a cold, claimed without reservation that writer’s block does not exist. “If you claim to have writer’s block, then you’re not a professional writer,” he declared. After this proclamation, I dared not share my personal sense of being blocked– or the wince of pain that I felt at the derisive way he said “not a professional writer.” Thankfully his girlfriend defended those of us with writer’s block. It came down to whether you had a deadline and an assigned topic. Even with those two things, being “blocked” might be just a sense that you were merely “going through the motions” or lacking an angle, not necessarily the inability to write any letters on a page.
So, whether this dry spell for me shows that I am “not a professional” or shows that my identity as a librarian is subsuming my truer, deeper, more wholistic self, I will leave that self-examination for another day. In the meantime, and perhaps in evidence that I have not be as “dry” as I fear, I would like to share this project I submitted in November 2013 to the SketchBook Project for their first Fiction library.
The SketchBook Project is a traveling analog and digital library of little brown-covered sketchbooks submitted by people from all over the country, of all ages and ilks. Their bookmobile stopped by my library last Spring, in fact. I first heard about it from my brother who submitted a sketchbook filled with drawings in ink, pencil, and pastel. I signed up for a “library card” and their listserv at their bookmobile last Spring and that’s how I found out about the Fiction project. I tried to channel Lynda Barry and think about being a child, making my own book, telling my own story without that “asshole at the bar” leaning over my shoulder to say “this sucks; this is a waste of time.”
It worked. Inspired by my husband’s 8-year-old cousin in Algeria and a real French colonial cemetery we visited in his hometown, I wrote a story about a a little girl whose family lives on and tends a graveyard. Enjoy.
Link to my fiction project book: http://www.sketchbookproject.com/library/14215