Midlife Writing Crisis- Writing for my Inner Child

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I must be experiencing something akin to a mid-life writing crisis. Is there such a thing? I’m impatient and frustrated about the publication process. I’ve realized that the day-to-day grind and occasional one-step-forward-two-steps-back trudge has left me feeling worn down and, well, homely. Not that I don’t appreciate the blessings of my wonderful agent, supportive family, and writing buddies who believe in me. I am lucky, I know. But, right now, if I worked in a profession with a regular paycheck, I’d be tempted to buy myself a boost in the way of a shiny new sports car that’s way too impractical for my real life. I might even have the wrinkles stitched out of my belly, my brow, my bum, my attitude. Of course, that wouldn’t solve what really ails me, but at least I’d look good.

As I typed my last blog post, I had somewhat of an epiphany. You see, I begin every new project with zeal and eagerness and I-can’t-wait-to-learn-more energy. But, when it’s time to pour forth the first words of a brand new draft, I automatically think ahead to what my agent would like, what an editor would like, what a librarian would like, what unknown young readers would like. Trying to please so many people, with their own subjective tastes, has threatened the joy in my own writing life. Maybe you feel the same way. Sometimes, it feels more like work and less like heart-fueling art. Sometimes I forget to consider the person who counts most of all. In my desperate search for literary validation, I have cheated on my most important reader. Me. Or, more specifically, the child in me.

So, I’m digging deep today and inviting my inner child back into my world. It’s time for me to get reacquainted with her, to remember where I came from and where my words first blossomed. I’ve uncovered a photo of my ten-year-old self and I think I’ll place it in a prominent spot above my computer. Maybe this reflection will prove to be my most trusted muse, my most reliable critic. What can it hurt, right?

7 Responses to “Midlife Writing Crisis- Writing for my Inner Child”

  1. Carmen Oliver

    What a beautiful post, Donna! It brought tears to my eyes.

    I think our inner child is always with us but sometimes we forget this and you're smart to put her front and center and remember who you're writing for. And that child (a child like you)is also out in today's world waiting to connect with your inner child. She's there. There's a lot of them out there. Just waiting until your work lands in their imperfect laps. And then, they'll realize that there's nothing more perfect than being imperfect.

    And you'll have made them feel special. Unique. One of a kind. Like the girl you were. Like the woman you've become!

    Hang in there!

  2. Samantha Clark

    As a business, writing can be — is — very frustrating. But you're right, Donna, first and foremost we must write for ourselves, for our inner 10-year-old, because to write something that doesn't appeal to us is impossible when we're driven by passion and no guarantees of publication. Keep writing for yourself, Donna. Keep writing for your inner child. There are plenty of other children out there just like her.

  3. Shelli Cornelison

    I love this post, Donna. I wish I'd known you when we were ten! But I'm glad to know you now. Hope young Donna gets you back in the saddle at your modern day "typewriter."

  4. Laurie Thompson

    I suspect we would've been best friends at age 10, Donna, although it would've been a long horseback ride from Wisconsin to Texas. Replace the buffalo with a bulldozer and you practically nailed my 10-year-old self. I hope your inner Donna is still joining you for your writing sessions! If not, I'll send mind along to play.

  5. Donna

    Thank you, Kimberley, Shelli, Laurie. I feel the love.

    Kimberley, we'll have to swap notes at next year's retreat. I gotta hear your bulldozer story now.