I usually like to blog about writing issues and questions that I face as a writer – I like to feel and imagine that I’m helping other writers – if only by being in conversation  with them.

& don’t you just love this picture!?  I took it on the sacred site of Mauna Kea, Hawaii.  On the ground, it just looked gray and sucky.  This article is all about perspective.

I am a writer – and I know what many of the challenges, missteps, and big, hairy obstacles are.

Honestly, I think a lot of them just SUCK.  That said, we don’t have to stay in the suckiness.  We have a choice.  For me a lot of suckiness has centered around the phenomenon commonly known as writer’s block.

I grew up in a hard-working meat and potatoes family with a single dad.  There were no “arts” in my family.  I started reading at the age of 4 and writing at about 6 or 7.  I would hide my writing from everyone, thinking – no one will want to see this.  In fact, my dad could barely get up enough energy to say hello to me at the end of his 14 hour days.  Most of the time, I was alone.

One day, I decided to show a poem to my mother when I was visiting her.  I was about 11.  After she read it, she handed it back to me and said you didn’t write this.  C’mon.  Tell me the truth – who wrote it?

My mother never did accept that I actually wrote that poem.

That was the last poem I showed anyone for years.

From then on I struggled with a mighty block that I didn’t even know was “writer’s block.”  Because in my family, you grew up to be a teacher or a nurse or a government worker.  There was no language for me, for what I was.

So many years went by – I spent all of them erasing the fact that I was a writer.  I tried so many things and succeeded at some and failed at even more.  During that time, I learned I actually couldn’t be whatever I wanted.  But I did happen to notice, here and there, that the only thing I was ever really sought out for was writing.  I could do that – but what did I care?

I believed there was NO WAY I could make a living at it.  I believed I could not raise my daughter or be a good wife if I was a writer.  I believed I might start writing and find I wasn’t really a writer after all.  And the worst part was that I believed that it might kill me.

See when I was a teenager I struggled with extreme depression.  This depression started when I was a child of about 9 and never stopped.  The first poet I ever connected to was Sylvia Plath –and we all know what happened to her.  Then, there were others.

I got the message that to be a writer was to be alienated from society, alienated from joy, and to finally succumb to depression, mania, or suicide.   I was already depressed, sometimes even suicidal.  I didn’t need anything to push me deeper in.  I later learned that what I called “depression” were necessary episodes of grief that reflected life experiences that I had no control over.

By not writing, I was trying to protect myself from the emotional dangers it seemed to pose.

I remember being a teenager, laying in bed and literally thinking: if I can just grow up and be a good mom that’s all I wantI’m not going to ever write until I know I can be a good mom, a stable person, a good person.

I remember one day when my sweet daughter was about three, I became engrossed in writing a poem.  I was in total trance-y flow.  I looked up and she was gone.  I looked for her in the living room, in the kitchen, in her little toy-strewn bedroom of our modest air-force base housing.

Finally, I looked outside.

There she was, sitting in a little purple chair she had pulled up right on the edge of our driveway.  She could have been in the road, down the street, anywhere.  I frightened myself.  It was years before I wrote another poem.

I believe writer’s block happens for really really really good reasons – that it reflects deep beliefs we have about ourselves, our childhoods, and our perceptions of our fundamental value in this world.  It also reflects abusive, repressive, and  negative forces within our culture and society.

It’s not necessarily something to get through or push aside.

Sometimes, it’s something to explore in and of itself.

What Changed (the short version)

Two years ago I decided to try writing.  For real.  To somehow push all my resistance aside and at least TRY.  I gave myself permission to fail – indeed, I expected to fail (failure felt safe because I had failed a lot more than I succeeded).

I made a decision but it took me another year and a half to actually start writing.  At some point, I had a hypnosis done – it was serendipitous and I wasn’t looking for it.

I laid on my bed while a friend of my boyfriends took me on a journey.  Her name was Sara and she was staying with us to do trauma work on soldiers at a local VET center.  Many of them struggled with alienation and PTSD.  And so did I, yet our battles had been different.  The hypnosis experience deserves its own post but I will say here that it involved my mother and a beautiful golden book.

It was about writer’s block.  It was about mother love.  It was about abandonment.  It was about death.

Right Now

I now know I could have been writing all along.  All those years.  But it’s good enough for me to be writing NOW.  Now is all that matters.

Right now, I’m writing this little blog from my perfect, worn little desk that an old roomie left behind.  I just moved it upstairs and invited my cat Angelina and my zen-hero dog Zenyu to nest with me.  I am hoping that something of my little story will give someone hope.

Each week, I will be writing a little about ME & tell you about what I’m working on, what journals I’m submitting to, what MFA programs I’m looking at.  I’ll tell you about my fiction projects, my non-fiction projects, my workshops, my writing groups, my fears, and my big damn audacious dream (that many would tell me is absolutely worthless).

I’ll talk to you about poetry, why I write it, and why it’s important – why all of our writing and creativity is CRITICAL.

I’ll talk about how fucking hard it feels.  And how amazingly transcendent.

I’ll tell you stories about the poets I know – poets like Vievee Francis and Alan Shapiro.  There are lots of poets running around North Carolina.  And I plan to know every single one of them somehow.

I’ll tell you about other creatives and artists, too, because they inspire me and give me hope.  I’m so lucky to live in Asheville NC where there are so many talented, working artists.

I’ll tell you about the beautiful, brave baby-poets I meet – the ones (like me) who are committed to the craft because they just can’t do anything else.

Of course, I will also be writing information-based articles and posting super-juicy writing prompts, too.  All this will happen on a weekly basis: prompts + articles + the “ME” edition.  I’m committed to building a site that inspires and informs writers and poets in the best best best of ways.  Thanks for reading the “ME” edition today & feel free to sing back!



Showing 14 comments
  • Joy Andreasen

    Cynthia.. wow. I thought for a minute I was reading my own autobiography as I read your story. Incredible. I never put two and two together that being creative may have had something to do with my childhood depression. I love your blog. Keep it up!! Great work!!

    • Cynthia Lindeman

      Thanks Joy! Creativity has been linked to depression in many studies. That said, I like to think about depression in new ways. In fact, I don’t even like the word “depression.” Does that really capture the gifts inherent (like creativity, sensitivity, empathy) in a highly reflective and responsive mind? I think people with “depression” need to have extra self-care but if we do, we can mine it for its many gifts. Kris Carr really helped me understand and see depression as a disease that I could care for and radically change. So, I guess my depression is in “remission.” Thanks for reading lotus flower!

  • shana

    I remember sharing one of my early writings with my dad, which felt profound and heartfelt, only to have him hand it back and tell me everyone felt that way. I wondered why, if everyone felt that way, why I felt so alone. One friend has told me for years that my art was good, but my poetry, I needed to get that published. I never believed him. And then a couple years ago, a friend told me that for some reason she felt that writing was what I was going to be known for. It was crazy I thought, because although I have always loved writing, it was private. I create art and share it with the world easily. But writing, sharing my writing was (and still is) scary. I never thought about it this way either, that my childhood experiences could be at the root of it all. I was always encouraged to draw, paint, and visually express myself, but I was always so scared to share my writing. But you are right. Now is all that matters. Thanks for sharing, and thanks for writing.

    • Cynthia Lindeman

      Shana, you are so welcome. I think cultural attitudes towards writing and visual art are very different – which makes it double hard for us writers. That said, I learned a great lesson by watching visual artists express and share their work! I still use it to help my “sharing muscles.” Thanks for reading & I look forward to visiting your blog.

  • Sibylle Leon

    Wow, Cynthia, what a powerful story. And so true about writer’s block being for a reason. It’s not a catastrophe, it’s a hint, and sometimes even guidance.
    Thank you for having the courage to share this. I*’ll be passing it on!

    • Cynthia Lindeman

      Sibylle, thanks for reading! Good to have a soul-centered coach’s opinion 🙂

  • Cassandra

    Big huge writer-ly hugs, Cynthia! This is such a raw and beautiful post and I love every bit of it. I can’t wait to read about your writing life. I have a similar “mom” story. I was probably around 16, just at the beginning of what would become severe depression, and showed my mom a poem that described how I felt. She read it and said something along the lines of, “That’s horrible. I hate it.” I know it was because she was afraid of the pain it held, but still! Long story short, I kept on writing 🙂

    • Cynthia Lindeman

      Cassandra, so so so glad you kept on writing! BIG HUGS!!!!

  • Reply

    Beautiful. Thank you for your bravery in sharing something so personal. As a fellow creator I too face challenges, fears and creative road blocks. I think we all do. Our culture perpetuates the myth of the starving artist and that myth sits in our subconscious, festering and spreading dis-ease and doubt. Having a supportive network of other creative people certainly helps assuage our fears. You’re fortunate to be based in Asheville. My friends Pete & Lynette (both artists…maybe you know them?) live there and always talk about how wonderful it is to live where there is such a large and strong community of artists.
    I’m glad I found your corner of the interweb. I’m curious to see how your story unfolds.

  • Reply

    Woohoo! What a joy that you are writing now…just think of all that wonderful, juicy material you’ve been storing up! I look forward to reading more about your writerly journey. xx

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