The Greatest Block of All

I’ve written a lot about Writers’ Block on this blog — what it is, why it happens, and how to challenge it. But recently I’ve experienced the ultimate writers’ block, the greatest challenge to my writing life. I say my writing life because for me, my life and my writing are intrinsically connected — one cannot exist without the other.

I’ve said many times that life sometimes gets in the way of writing, writers everywhere would be familiar with what this means. For the non-writers among you, it means things like child-raising, bill-paying (or more pointedly, the work required to raise the funds that make bill-paying possible), house coordinating, people managing, and a myriad of other things.

But what happens when life really does get in the way of writing? And this time, by life, I mean the gift of health that keeps us living and breathing and able to complain about life getting in the way of our writing. What happens when a writer faces a diagnosis that may mean her/his time for writing will come to an end—for good?

The fear is palpable. And I’m not talking about the fear of dying. I dealt with that. I’m talking about the fear of leaving this world without having achieved the one goal I set when I was ten years old and have been working toward ever since. Being a writer.

I mentioned this to a friend recently. “But you are a writer,” she said.

Yes I am. But not the kind of writer I always dreamt of being. Yet. I need more time for that. Suddenly, time for writing seems to be the only thing that matters.

I want to write full-time. I want to get my work out there. I want to be heard. Be read. I want to share the magic of narrative with young people everywhere. I want them to know the amazing power of transformation reading can bring. I want to take them on a journey that frees them, if only for a short time, from the stress and pressure of adolescence. I want them to get lost in my books.

I’ve always plodded along with these goals simmering in the background while I dealt with the reality of…well, life. I guess we take the luxury of life for granted until we are slapped in the face with our own mortality. It’s then that we understand the difference between ‘living’ and allowing life to happen to us.

The choices we make and the action we take—consciously or unconsciously—impact on who we are at any given moment in time. I am not a ‘victim.’ Never have been. I will live to write, so that I can write to live. Until the very last breath I take, no matter when that is.