Enter Spring – Write & Release

Blackbird Egg - Elizabeth Harper

If you were to peek behind the curtain at GOTJ, you would see more than a few potential posts that read, <no title> Draft.

Some have photos, some don’t, a few are complete and ready to publish needing only a last read-through first. But given what has been happening in the world over the last month or so, my posts seemed like an uninteresting waste of your time and mine. So I let them sit.

It is not the first time I’ve done this … taken an impromptu sabbatical where I have withdrawn into reading while neglecting my writing.

Unfinished potential some might call it.

A friend asked me yesterday how my book was coming along and I while I wanted to say which one, I just said simply, ‘ It’s not. ‘

‘ Oh,’  he said, as he shook his head slowly, ‘ I thought you would be one of the ones to do it. ‘

‘ Well I’m not dead yet! ‘ I said, with a sharper tone than intended.

I tried to explain, but it just sounded like excuses … the car accident, work, a bad case of the blues.

Inside I was thinking … other people get it done despite having full lives, what is wrong with me?

Perfectionism will be my undoing if I let it.

Write and release.


25 thoughts on “Enter Spring – Write & Release

  1. I’m at a similar point, but am trying to be philosophical about it. It’s been a long winter – sometimes it’s good just to “be” in the world and not necessarily feel like striving or pushing or “should-ing” ourselves to death. Sometimes just allowing ourselves to breathe, take a moment or two and then proceed at our own pace is a good thing. Maybe this is simply your pace now. Take care.

    • I have to agree with you, Michelle. It has been a very long winter. I used to think that winter weather was not a problem for me but now I know that cold, wet, and dark do little for my motivation. With warm days showing up a bit more and a break in the grey that has been the backdrop for months, I am easing ( I hope ) into a more creative phase. Thanks for your support and good luck to you.

  2. It is resting potential, NOT unfinished potential. Easy for me to allow this for you…harder for me to allow it for myself. We all have to learn to be kinder to ourselves, and not compare our accomplishments (or our perceived lack of them) to others. So happy to see you back here!

    • Lani, you are so sweet …’resting potential,’ indeed. I will try to be kinder to myself. Thanks for the welcome back and for still being interested in what I have to say.

  3. Elizabeth, I am just now writing a blog post on my website that addresses this very same issue. i started it last night and haven’t finished it so I didn’t “write and release” (I love that title/concept!). But the “topic” is about how we beginning artists (writers, photographers, etc.) are reluctant to take the steps to put our work “out there” because we think “oh, I’m not ready” or “it’s not good enough yet” and so on. In the blog I ruminate on what the real reasons for this might be, etc, etc,.. I would be interested in your thoughts on it …I hope to have it finished by this evening (I live in Maryland).
    Hope to hear from you.

    • Kathryn, I had a look around your blog and saw loads of great words and images, but I did not see the blog post you mentioned. I imagine you must still be working on it. It’s only 6:50 in the evening there while here in Cornwall it is time for bed so I’ll have a look tomorrow.

      I definitely fit the ‘ It’s not good enough category ‘ with both my writing and photography. I am rarely satisfied with either. Thanks for commenting and I’ll say more when I see your post go up.

      • Elizabeth,
        Funny about that! ;} I did start out writing about beginning something (a story, a photo essay, a blog, etc) and the reasons we don’t finish it or devalue it, …but then somehow it turned into the blog on my website on photo competitions! I’ll blame it on my undiagnosed ADD.

        You received a lot of encouraging and kind responses to your blog. I can add or reiterate some thoughts. A concept that I believe and take solace in is that sometimes we are “undergoing” rather than “doing”. At times like that I like to read. You mentioned that you read instead of write, I think that’s a good idea, especially if you read good writing. A writing teacher of mine once said that he (and I’ve heard that other published writers do the same thing) takes a passage from the writings of an author he admires and just types that passage over and over again until the cadence, phraseology etc is “in his head”, then he can imitate it in his own work. Sounds kind of kooky, but I’ve heard it enough to make me think there might be something to it. Once I took the first 2 paragraphs from an essay by an author (I think it was George Orwell) and basically took out a lot of his words and inserted my own. It got me started. The story didn’t end up being anything like his or even what I started out with, but it was actually fun and got me to finish something that I was happy with.
        I wouldn’t want to down play the affect the weather over there has on anyones mood and motivation and I know it’s been pretty dismal over there this winter.
        Finally, I love seeing your photographs. If you don’t feel your writing is ready for release how about just posting some photos? I have an inexplicable attachment to Cornwall.and love seeing the photos you take. I went to Port Isaac last Fall, I’m going to Penzance in June. So, as far as I am concerned, I would be happy just to see some photos!
        Best, kathryn

  4. Elizabeth – thank you for your bravery. I have been absent from my blog for over a month. An unexpected knee surgery… been waiting 25 years to repair that ACL, but waiting resulted in a fully torn meniscus, rendering the leg useless–pushing the surgery into the urgent category. Then, there have been the teenager issues-some of the worst times of her life… and mine. So, I’ve been gestating. Not wanting to write for fear of spewing. NOt wanting to write because I need moments of feeling nothing. Not wanting to write b/c I’ve spent days with leg propped up in bed grading freshmen papers. Not wanting to write b/c I too fear a lack of perfection. Brene Brown tells us that perfection is unhealthy, borne of a need to be “better than…” It’s in our imperfection, she maintains, that we whole-heartedly and most authentically connect with others. Thank you for connecting again. You give me hope for myself… – Renee

    • You know Renee, I have ‘ The Gifts of Imperfection ‘ by Brené Brown, but have I finished it? No! I found it tough going, I wonder why …

      Thanks for reminding me about it, I’ve just dragged it out from its dusty perch on my bedside table so I can give it another go.

      I am really sorry you’ve had such a time with your knee and I understand how you could feel totally unmotivated to write. Being in pain and stuck in one place recuperating would be a challenge to anyone, adding freshman papers and a teenager might make one consider fiction (a good murder mystery) the best thing to write during recovery.

      Thanks for sharing your story and I’m rooting for you from here. Hope you are on your feet soon and doing things you dreamed you might after the surgery.

  5. Don’t be too hard on yourself. You just need to find the joy in the writing again. I’ve found that writing short pieces from prompts, even just as exercises, are a good way to get my juices flowing. One-Minute Writer has a daily prompt and it’s kind of like doing a stretching class in the morning. Just play a bit and enjoy the process, and as you say “release.”

    • Thanks, Jayne for your suggestions on getting back on the horse (a cliche just for you my horseback riding friend 😉 Writing prompts are a great idea and one that might be helpful for me.

  6. Know exactly where you are at, Elizabeth … at the present time I have at least three half finished books on my computer. I have stalled on all of them for various reasons and occasionally it worries me.
    Then I take a look at them and do some revisions and I can see how they might work … I just need to find my flow again … and hopefully the same will happen to you too.

    • I’m always glad to know I am not alone in my unfinished state. Thanks for sharing, Angie. I know you write everyday … I’m working to get back to that. Backside in the chair, writing not reading when I’m at the computer, is the only way.

  7. I noticed that you mentioned The Gift of Imperfection by Brene Brown. I haven’t read that book yet, but I just finished her new book Daring Greatly which is about vulnerability and perfectionism. It was terrific. Really eye-opening.

    • I think if you’ve read “Daring Greatly ” you may have picked up parts of her other two books. I might be wrong, but I think I’ve read a review or two that gave me that idea. I may pick it up later, but for now I want to write more and read a bit less. I’m not sure I can manage it. I always have two or three books I’m reading and I might go through withdrawal. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Jackie.

  8. Often, when I find myself in “funk”, I try to look at it, as a time to reenergize and a time to be kind to myself. We so often are “doing” for others, that we are zapped. A break, not permament, is usually our inner selves telling us to relook, rethink, reapproach or reconfirm from a different perspective. When you revisit and release this entry, it will be with the conviction that only the author is satisfied with-and that will be worthy of all of our eyes!

      • I will be flying in June 21st and be in Devon around the 25th after seeing my 1st grandchild in Sussex. I’ll bring you some chocolate chips? If you need anything, do let me know. Maybe I can help you build a stash of “get out of the funk goodies”. Take Care. xxx Love to John

  9. You’ve hit a chord here Elizabeth—-my own ebbs and flows relate to much of what I read in your post and the comments that follow. Considering the time involved in this blogging “thing,” I do not like to post just for the sake of posting as I hate to waste my time or the time of others. Often my inner judge is not satisfied with my offerings and I go silent for long whiles. Other times, I am simply pulled in other directions, sidetracked by diversions of various worth. Glad to see you and I will try to send some Colorado sunshine your way if you’ll send some rain this way :-).

    • Same here, Bella. I don’t want to post just to get something out there. It needs to matter in some way. It doesn’t have to be life changing or a deeply thought out piece, but it does have to touch something in me before I push it out the door. My biggest problem lately has been leaving a post too long and losing interest before its complete. I’ve sent you some rain … please forward a bit of sunshine as soon as possible.

  10. I’ve slowed down on my blogging as well, where I used to throw up about a post a week without issue. I think it’s because I’ve actually got something more to blog about now than simply chucking a few pictures in and writing about them. Drafting and redrafting and redrafting to make sure my words reflect my intention, and that there’s something in it for the reader. I still find it a release, but one that’s slower, but more fulfilling to come by.

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