The Fragile Existence of a Writer

The Room of My Own

My strangeness is out of the bag since sharing the existence of the come-hither closet.  I’ve suspected all along others are like me but until exposing myself, I wasn’t sure.  I hesitated before opening my kimono, but what the hell, here in cyberspace we write like we talk, talk like we think, and think we’re not alone.  I don’t confess deep dark secrets, but only because I don’t have any, which is why I  am thankful to all the celestial beings—major and minor—for gifting me with an imagination so I can make up dark secrets.

The closet isn’t real—as in brick and mortar—but in my mind I see it clearly.  I will sit within it for hours picking through the clutter.  I might ponder my flaws, my moments of profound awareness, and my undefined periods—seconds to days—of uncertainty, but mostly I roll around in my passion for writing.  I live to love, love to live, and live to write.  I am of the belief this passion for writing negates my mother’s concerns about my weirdness.

Since coming out of the closet the world knows I store unnecessary plastic objects, thoughts, conversations, memories, letters I might write one day, have written, recipes, images of moments like the one when I laid my father’s ashes into the ground, in my imaginary closet.  I am a writer and this is what writer’s do, we store.  At least that is what I have always believed since reading Joan Didion’s essay, Why I Write.

After reading her words, I started sleeping again. I was strange, most definitely, but I knew I was not strange in a scary way. Phew!   Writers are an odd breed, we’re quirky in all the wrong places.  We walk with our heads in the clouds, stop and stare into the distant for no apparent reason, mutter to ourselves, and will go weak at the knees over a word or phrase.

Today I was talking to a friend about the precarious nature of lovers and said, “It’s a fragile existence being someone’s lover.”    My mouth obeying my mind spoke without planning. As the words slipped between my lips and made their appearance in the universe, my knees wobbled. My little writer’s mind stopped mid thought, plucked up the words, fragile existence, and tossed them into my little closet.  After, I replayed the conversation several times.  I wanted to relive the tingling, which felt something like static electricity when socks fresh out of the dryer are separated. The rush felt at utterance can make me light headed, but nothing like when I am staring down at a blank page.

We writers with all we have learned and accepted about ourselves will agonize each time we start a new project. Even a seasoned writer suffers pangs of doubt when she confronts the blank page.  It doesn’t matter if a writer has written one thousand words or two million, the writer will stutter, swallow back the panic—occasionally with a shot of single malt or chardonnay— before letting loose on the page. Sometimes the writing is shit and other days it pure brilliance.

I live for the moments when the writing is above my skill level, when I am possessed by a story.  I don’t know why it happens, what triggers it, or how long the drive will last, but while I am riding the high I hold on regardless if I lose sleep or loved ones.  In the heat of head-to-finger-to blank-document word liberation, I am gone, in the zone, flying over the great divide. I give, grunt, power down, reboot, drink disgusting green protein shakes, and donate to unearthly beings.  The writer’s zone is insatiable.  It’s the kiss of a lover you’d walk across the Sahara barefoot for just to feel his breath on your face, the taste of his lips, to run your fingers down his spine, once more for.  The writer will howl, send me that lov’n, one more time, I can take it.    There are times when I cannot distinguish between the rush of a lover’s kiss or my muse’s hand on mine.

It’s bliss.

This isn’t the type of conversation I would have with Calvin as he bags my groceries, but here in this virtual writer’s sphere I am comfortable sharing.


Have you felt this rush?


*The image is what I imagine my mind looks like, but after the Merry Maids have sucked up the dust bunnies and laid out the good china.



I’m a writer and hoarder of one-size-fits-all panty hose. Until the hose fits over my bum, I write to provide an alternative view on writing and perfection.

41 thoughts on “The Fragile Existence of a Writer

  1. Absolutely Brenda! I describe it the way the Olympic runner Eric Liddell did when he said: “When I run, I feel God’s pleasure,” only I say, “When I write an excellent article, poem, story etc. I feel God’s pleasure.” That describes things so perfectly for me, that sense of having fulfilled one’s purpose, one’s place in the world, the reason you were gifted in such a way. When we do that the Creator smiles and we are both overjoyed!

    • You are such a poet, Elizabeth. You’ve articulated that rush so eloquently, as ever. It is a wonder when we are able to pull it all together and sit back and exhale with pride.

  2. I used to feel these rushes more when I just started out writing and was quite unsure about everything. Perhaps it’s also that I’ve recently grown accustomed to bits of delight in daily freewriting, that I’ve not looked at them as rushes anymore. The snippets still make me smile to myself, and they’re still precious. But going weak in the knees would happen only once in a while. And those are great moments, too. :)

    That is a beautiful and comfy mind, B. It reminds me of the pictures from the Country Living magazines (U.K. edition) that I adore, and often imagine living in.

    • Claudine – I guess it is like being in a relationship. We have to keep the fires burning. Although I do know what you mean about settling into our routines and not always noticing what is going on. As for the room, it’s an old image that I cut out a long while ago from a country magazine. I want a room like this…


    I came across this video on someone else’s blot yesterday, then realized I’d heard an excerpt before in an audiobook with a chapter on creativity and the artistic genius. It discussed the differing views of it, and whether inspiration is internal or external. I know many discount Gilbert as chick lit Bc of Eat, Pray,Love, but she actually enjoyed amemoir. lot of critical acclaim before she wrote that

    • Jennifer.. I couldn’t get into her book, but I cheer for her anyway for making it through the have. I’ve seen this video before and frequently go back and listen. She’s a great public speaker. I haven’t tried her earlier works, but it’s been on my to-do list. So glad to have you back.

  4. It’s the best feeling ever! When your WIP takes over and directs you, you are so head over heels in love with it that you let it fully consume you. LOVE!

    I wish my mind was that neat and tidy. It’s definitely not. LOL

    • Kelly – You were in my head as I was writing this post, in fact as my new WIP took over my breathing all I could think about was a post of yours a while back when you were talking about the feeling. I was knee deep in tense changes and miserable and longed for that rush. So glad for it..

  5. Lynne Favreau

    Twice last week while rereading passages I’d written two months ago, I nearly gasped out loud at two sentences. Immediately I thought “Did I write those?”
    It was thrilling to come across and like a junkie needing a fix I starting hitting the keypad heavily.

  6. Ah, the rust – YES. I so loved the way Elizabeth described it in her comment. Brenda, your posts are so reassuring!! Good luck with your new WIP! I’m working on mine, and bit by bit friends and family are asking me how it’s coming along (that is a sign to me that I’m coming out of the closet … so to speak of course … not that there’s anything wrong with that.. a good sign).
    Perhaps because of the title of your post, Sting’s song “Fragile” popped into my head and now sits there. Thanks a lot!

    • Astra – good song. I have to revisit that one. You are out of the closet. Wear your writing badge proudly! I am so excited for your WIP… I know it might make you crazy sometimes, but there is nothing like typing THE END!! Hugs, Astra, for always coming by..

  7. Love the rush, the exhilaration – that’s why we do write, after all. I find bits and pieces of it everywhere – and other times, the despair like trying to fit my fat a$$ in the jeans of two sizes ago, when I – just – can’t – get the pieces I’m writing to come together.

    And you never know – Calvin *might* understand. Calvin just might be composing epic poetry in his head as his lips demand, “Paper or plastic?”

    • Of course, Bev, my dear Calvin has epic poetry in his head. Bad on me for not thinking he does, for all I know he might be the new Bob Dylan. :-) As for the jeans comment, well, as noted on your blog a bit ago, we are never happy with the body we are slipping into our jeans, regardless if the body is a size 2 or size 20. Love who you are all the time ( it’s my mantra). Hugs, sweet Beverly.

  8. I remember sitting on the carpet in my mother’s condo after my parents’ divorce had been finalized and I’d just returned from a year traveling Down Under. I was staying with her until I found a job and an apartment. I was working on something— that was eventually relinquished to the “agonizingly awful” file (the trash can). I was the only one home. I was typing on my mother’s electric machine. I was writing, typing off the top of my head, not thinking, just producing, not stopping, not hesitating. Afterwards (five minutes, an hour? I have no idea), I re-read the work and, for the first real time, was thrilled, excited, impressed. I had been in the zone—and I felt higher than a kite. I remember thinking, this friggin’ rocks. If I can experience moments like this a few more times in my life, then count me in.

    Loved the post. Thanks.

    • Ah, Kat, I loved your comment, too. Half the fun for me are the comments,I am always in awe of the readers who stop and share their stories. As for the feeling you are describing, there is nothing quite like it. I am enjoying my rush .. I know it won’t last, but damn I am having fun in the zone. So glad you stopped by and shared. You have come a long way in your life. I love this about women, our enduring energy and strength.

  9. June O'Hara

    I love your posts, but this is my absolute favorite. My identification was powerful. How reassuring to know that while I am clearly nuts, I’m not alone in it.

    “I am of the belief this passion for writing negates my mother’s concerns about my weirdness.” My mother respects, and enjoys, my writing. It’s a fairly new development. I never thought I’d see the day.

    “We walk with our heads in the clouds, stop and stare into the distant for no apparent reason, mutter to ourselves, and will go weak at the knees over a word or phrase.” OMG, that’s me!!! That’s my life!!!

    “Sometimes the writing is shit and other days it pure brilliance.” Ain’t that the truth.

    Am hating you for making me abuse exclamation points.

    • June- I am going to remember this day forever, your over use of exclamation points. It’s a red letter day. I actually had you in mind when I wrote this post, something you said once. I do go weak the knees and I am forever muttering to myself. When I catch myself in someone else’s eyes I shudder. They probably think I am a nut case, oh well. I’ll have to see if I can top this post somewhere down the line…

  10. k~

    “There are times when I cannot distinguish between the rush of a lover’s kiss or my muse’s hand on mine.” I love this!

    Brenda, your entire post is a continued testament to your heartist soul. I can surely relate to the exhilaration of riding the wave of thoughts that push the thoughts from my mind to written form. Sometimes it feels almost like I am the scribe, taking down what is given to me in chunks, morsels, and chapters of lives I may, or may not be familiar with. The phrases that captivate me, drive me, move me from one line to another… and sometimes halt in midstream, make writing a requirement, rather than an option.

    The last three nights, have brought me to a phrase, a voice, in dreams that repeats:
    “Meet me at the green house,
    in the alley
    that loses its colour in winter.”

    Insanity? Perhaps, but one that is all too familiar to those impressed upon by muses in and beyond this world.


    • K-I know what you mean when you say you are sometimes the scribe. I am not the sort of writer that ‘plans and plots’ although when I am editing I wish I were that sort of writer. I kind of sit down and go with the moment, very much as your described.I am curious about where your dream is going to take you. I have vivid dreams and sometimes I weave bits and pieces into a story. I never know, which I suppose is the mystery in the writing that keeps me coming back for more. It is a curious pleasure.

  11. I am always in awe of your writing. And, yes, I know that bliss. When, I’m not home writing, I dream about it. Can’t wait. Can’t wait to come home and sit down at my computer. And I love when the words come pouring out, whether like butterflies or sprinting like gazelles, it’s a wondrous thing, putting thoughts into words. I especially relate to this line,

    “In the heat of head-to-finger-to blank-document word liberation, I am gone, in the zone, flying over the great divide.”

    Thank you!

    • Monica-well, your comments make me feel the same. Like you, writing is a passion we both share. Today I ran away and left my boys at home. I am sitting in the library working on a piece that has me flying. Soon they will ping me, “What’s for dinner?” Until then, I will continue soaring. I am ever grateful for your words.

  12. Jo

    You have written clearly and precisely what I think all writer feel. We are odd. We are different. I like the word unique to describe the workings of a writer’s mind. We are constantly ‘writing’ stories as we live our lives. See a house, think a story. See a truck, think a story. Everything is a story waiting to be constructed.
    Staring off into space, that’s what one does while constructing! :)
    As peculiar as we as a group may be, thank God for the gift of creating life and tales with just the hand of a muse or the whistling in the trees to spur the perfect word and phrase from our cobwebs.
    Just a beautiful post and a tribute to our passion.

    • Jo – you nailed it. We see stories wherever we go. For the longest time I thought I was mental. At least I am in good company. What a relief to have found others.

  13. “In the heat of head-to-finger-to blank-document word liberation, I am gone, in the zone, flying over the great divide. I give, grunt, power down, reboot, drink disgusting green protein shakes, and donate to unearthly beings. The writer’s zone is insatiable. It’s the kiss of a lover you’d walk across the Sahara barefoot for just to feel his breath on your face, the taste of his lips, to run your fingers down his spine, once more for. The writer will howl, send me that lov’n, one more time, I can take it. There are times when I cannot distinguish between the rush of a lover’s kiss or my muse’s hand on mine.”

    I don’t know that I’ve ever heard it described more accurately. Yes, I’ve felt that rush. One taste and there isn’t much we wouldn’t do for another. And then another. The hunger only builds and the moments that feed it also feed the need. Glorious.

    • Beth – there are amazing sensations in life, too many and more than I will experience in my lifetime, but for the rush I feel when I am in the zone, I will drop to my knees and give thanks for this gift. It’s a rush.

  14. The tingle. Yes, I know precisely what you mean. And the lack of sleep from which I am suffering at this very moment. This is a perfect post to ponder as I drift off to sleep tonight.

    • MW – I remember you saying you are late night writer. I am too, and sometimes not by my own choice… What’s a woman with multiple selves to do…? Sweet dreams my dear.

  15. ****I live to love, love to live, and live to write. ****

    -these words pretty much devine you, dear Brenda.

    The Rush:::
    Yes. Sometimes I feel this rush of adrenaline after I write a poem that I am pleased with. I have even been known to weep after I know it’s finally finished.

    Such a lovely feeling.

    Xx Kisses from MN.

    • Kim – I cried at when I reread my WIP come novel and thought I was being silly since I did write the dang thing, but later.. I thought, not silly. I’d like you read some of your poetry. I suspect like you, it’s strong and beautiful.

      • Kim – I don’t write poetry regularly. I post it sometimes on the blog. I’ll see if I can find a poem in me this week and post something, but that damn muse of mine, Tobias, left me on my own this week. You never know.

  16. Hi Brenda,

    Those moments in “the zone” are difficult to explain. We enter that space when we least expect it and spend the rest of our time struggling to find our way back there.

    Going weak at the knees over a word or phrase is something that I do all of the time. It happens more often when reading than writing, but I enjoy it just the same. I’ve rushed to share the joy of a perfectly crafted phrase with my daughters, but they just give me the daddy’s-losing-it look. Someday, they’ll understand.


    • Hey Ray, long time. I hope you are well. I do that all the time with my kids, too. My daughter took up photography and now gets how I feel about words because it’s how she feels about a photo. The son still gives me the look. You’re are about the feeling of entering a ‘space’ I hadn’t quite thought about in those term, but that is the zone. Thanks for stopping by, I’ll be sure to visit.

  17. Brenda, I’m grateful for finally winning the fight for the laptop with the Son! Why? Cause it allowed me to read this wonderful post of yours! I love the way you describe writing. Any writer that reads your words will be quick to nod and say, amen! For me, seeing a finished piece gives me a sense of fulfillment. I look back and think, so that’s what was in my head! When you feel the need to communicate your thoughts, there’s no stopping it. Great post, lady!

    • Lady Bella, I am glad to see you.. I’ve missed your words. I like your notion of rereading something later and having an ah-ha moment. I’ve said this before, but once I actually write ‘something’ down (something in this context is an issue I am struggling with) I realize it’s gone. The act of writing being the cure or way forward. Writing for some is how we organize our thoughts and emotions.

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