The Meaning of Life is Apple Brown Betty...

Ask me where I am. I am in “my office” (aka the coffeeshop) writing.

Last night I had the most amazing epiphany, I decided I was going to give up writing. How simple and it has never occurred to me, this could be the decision that would fix all my concerns. A simple life of Apple Brown Betty and color-coordinated furniture, I would even wear an apron, learn to cook. Yes, this was the last thought I had before going to bed. I even told my husband, I’m going to spend more time with him because I’m not going to write anymore. He mumbled something in his half-sleep stupor and fell back into the dreamworld.

I felt so much better with decision. I thought all my worry about this second manuscript being published, all this anxiousness of organizing my writing time and trying to create a schedule, it would be over. I thought about how free my days would be. I had this image of me watching “The View” or sitting on the couch reading or dusting the plants I'd buy. I realized how much time I’d have to do nothing.

I am anxious by nature and I’ve always believed that writing is a place to focus my nervous energy. But as I started to think about it, I wondered if maybe my nervousness was fueled by my writing, my imagination this place where there are daily tragedies, worst-case scenarios played over and over. I’m not sure what came first, the chicken or the egg, the nerves or the writing, but on my first day in trying to give up writing, I’m writing. And wondering if maybe writing is just something I cannot not do.

My husband asked me this morning what I was talking about last night and then reminded me that I’ve felt this way about my writing before. I have. I remember once (before my first book was accepted), I made a speech about how my manuscript submissions were a voluntary tax to the US Postal Service. Maybe I’m just in a transition, maybe it’s the full moon—I’m mostly water and can feel the minus tides in my bones—maybe every so often we have to stop and consider what we’re doing here, what we care about, where we want to go.


  1. I tried to give up writing once--it was the worst year of my life.

  2. Oh boy, can I relate to this!

    Well said -- and you are not alone. ;o)

  3. You never know how much good your words do in the world. When I need courage, my husband reminds me that God sets us in boats and pushes us on to the lake of perspective. Sound familiar?

  4. Valerie-- I hear you. I think it would be the same for me.

    Heather-- thanks. It's good to be with writer friends.

    Cheryl-- Ah! That almost made me tear up. Thank you.

    thank you all for your notes. It always nice when I post something like a little vulnerable, that there's not an echo or the sound of crickets. I appreciate you for dropping by.


  5. Many years ago I sort of decided once to stop writing poems, and that lasted maybe two weeks. Not really even that long, since I actually kept writing, just pretending I wasn't writing poems, that I was only writing something that resembled poems on the page.

    There was a period of three or four years (late 1970's to about 1980 or 1981) when I wasn't doing much public with poems, though I was still writing.

    I've found, for me, it takes a kind of discipline to wait out the times when the muse feels silent, or speaks only in broken syllables and odd images. I had to teach myself just to wait for the dry period to pass, that it would rain again if I was patient and waited.

    There will be times, after long silence, when I feel a subtle gradual irritable feeling, a kind of restlessness, not huge or severe but it won't settle down. By now I've come to understand that it usually means a poem is getting near the surface.

    I can't speak for you, of course, but my instinct is that the anxiety and nervousness you speak of is not caused by writing, but may be connected in one way or another to the inner sources, the places writing comes from.

    I liked thinking about this. Thanks for posting this.

  6. Trying to give up writing for me is like trying to give up loving. It ain't going to happen, so why not just enjoy the ride....and lately it's been kinda bumpy!

  7. I gave up writing (and teaching) for over a decade--miserable, even worse than writers' block.

  8. I can't help noticing the interesting juxtaposition between this post and the poem by Jane Hirshfield right below it. It almost sounds like you answered your question before you asked it:

    Let one or two she loves / be in the next room. Let the door / be closed, the sleeping ones healthy. / Let her have time, and silence, / enough paper to make mistakes and go on.

  9. kelli, i enjoy reading your musings, and especially enjoyed reading this "vulnerable kelli" post.

    i don't think i could give up writing. it might give up on me, or desert me, but for me to make that decision ... no. it's like what i often say about english - the language seems to have chosen me, rather than the other way round. and this medium seems to have chosen me as well. and though it might be tough at times, or the muse be silent for months, i know it is too much a part of me, and it'd be like cutting off some limb just because it feels a little sore for a day or two.


  10. Thanks everyone.

    Lyle- I do agree that much of my writing comes from that same inner source.

    Pamela - I tend to think I'd feel the same way.

    Robert- yes, too funny about the poem and the I'm quitting writing post right next to it. thanks for pointing that out.

    Thanks, Michi. Good to read.



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