You’re Not the Only One

You’re Not the Only One

It has been at least six months since I have written a poem or even something with any substance. Writer’s block happens to every writer. There are always articles in the writing magazines I read that offer suggestions to writers who are stuck in a void. So I can tell myself that I am not the only one, but I understand how those words have very little meaning to someone struggling with loss.

I have used the phrase countless times. I tell my daughters that they are not the only ones struggling with motherhood. I tell my mother with dementia that she is not the only one in a wheelchair (although she believes she is). She always replies the same way. She says, “I don’t care about others. I’m my own person. I’m the one who has lost everything I used to have.” I know she is right. We can’t really find solace by comparing our difficulties with others, although we can find empathy for them.

I studied in college to be a journalist. I was assistant editor of my high school newspaper, rewrite and feature editor of my college newspaper, and after graduation wrote many articles for local magazines and newspapers. I had to stop when I felt like I was intruding on the privacy of people I was sent to interview. And I didn’t like the need for brevity since one of my major problems as a writer is overwriting. When I think about the situation in France, I think about the power of the pen. Right now I feel powerless because words won’t come. There are no phrases or lines that come to me in the early morning hours that I can turn into a poem that could touch others.

I have been to my computer countless times to write about a very emotional event in my life. In November my oldest daughter adopted a seven-year–old child with a tragic and horrifying past. I need to protect her privacy and keep her safe, so I have not been able to write about her. But she has changed my life in ways I can’t even explain. My daughter has rescued her. She is growing and changing and is a sweet, lovable child who is so traumatized by the past that she is unable to share it with anyone.

I have a book waiting to be self-published, but it’s held back by a cover design. I have a young adult novel partly written about a teenage basketball player whose father walks out the front door the day of his son’s basketball tournament and never returns. I started a story about an older woman with Alzheimer’s who finds herself in the park on a cold, snowy night. She does not know who she is or where to go but is transformed when a homeless dog approaches and rests his chin upon her leg. All are incomplete pieces halted by writer’s block.

It’s the absence of poetry that has me saddened the most. It’s a new kind of grief for me, blending in with all the old ones. If I can’t write, who am I? I have never stopped writing since I was a young child writing my first story about a family of bears. I have grown afraid of my own words. I commend the staff of Charlie Hebdo who certainly have reason to fear the effect of their words and their cartoons but find strength in the power and freedom of speech. I can tell myself that I’m not the only one struggling with writing. I can find strength in the struggles of others. But in those moments before dawn when no words come, when I feel bereft and alone, I wonder if the passage of time in my later years will only be filled with absence instead of meaning.

One thought on “You’re Not the Only One

  1. Good to see that you’re busy. Hope the blocks go away. 🙂 Concerning poetry – are you reading poetry? Perhaps reading poetry a little daily or every few days will help get you back to that. ???

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