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An Oasis in the Writing Desert

By Melissa Young

I like to write, but I don’t consider myself a writer.

I don’t feel driven, and I don’t have a lot of ideas percolating in my head. Sometimes I get into a groove and actually put some words down. Other times I’ll go months without writing out a single thought.

I’m still trying to find a comfortable format–blog? journal? pen and notebook?

I’m still trying to find a schedule–write regularly or just when I feel like it?

I’m still trying to find a genre–poetry? fiction? nonfiction?

Once when I was trying to write something and that blank screen and blinking cursor were kicking my trash, I came up with this little gem:

Words drop dry
from my pen—brittle, grating,
bleached of meaning.

I stare at the cracked pile,
wishing for some feeling rain
to lend a blush,
hiss,
sting,
rage,
anything
other than the soundless black
that has ground my eyes to powder.

But all I feel is heat on my neck
and killing blankness.

A little melodramatic, no? But when you are in the throes of writer’s block, adjectives like killing and grating hardly seem potent enough.

I’m currently in a bit of a writing drought, and the Segullah writing retreat is shimmering like an oasis on the horizon. Give some thought to coming, even if you don’t know whether you prefer pens or keyboards, poetry or prose. Even if you have a hot case of writer’s block. We can drink inspiration together.

About Melissa Young

(Emerita) is a native of Utah and lives in Cache Valley, Utah, with her husband and three of her four children in their emptying nest. She has an MA in TESOL from Brigham Young University and currently volunteers with the English Learning Center.

10 thoughts on “An Oasis in the Writing Desert”

  1. This is the way i feel, Melissa. I really enjoy writing, but a writer, no.
    I started a writer's group 7 years ago. Mostly to give each other permission to write, enjoy and encourage. I left the group i started, a year ago, because everyone "knows" they are a writer and publishing is the only seeming goal.
    More power to them, but not my cup of tea. I just enjoy writing. And it is an incredibly inexpensive hobby. I like pencil drawing too, so it is probably a theme, for me.;)

    Oh yeah, would LOVE to come to the Segullah writing retreat, but alas………

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  2. Yeah for you for writing, Melissa!!!!!!!!!!! Once the words are out on the paper you have at least created something. You remind us all of the love we have for words.

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  3. I hate writer's block! In fact, I should be writing right now but since I'm stuck and can't seem to write today, I'm here checking the blog instead. I've already cleaned the washing machine of fabric softener build-up, looked at what's on sale on Gap online, answered some emails, walked the dog, and eaten lunch, and now it's almost 2:00 and my children will be home soon. Better get cracking! But how I hate the blank screen!

    Loved the poem, btw. =)

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  4. Oh how I wish I could go. I love to write when the spirit hits, but wouldn't call myself a writer. I would love to hone my skills. I think I have them; I just don't know what to do with them. 🙂

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  5. I don't know if I should comment on a blog for LDS women, but my wife keeps telling me to read interesting works on this blog. As an engineer I do not have a problem writing technical publications, but when I try fiction I some of the same experiences as you. I have been reading, "Thunder and Lightening, Cracking Open the Writer’s Craft" by Natalie Goldberg, 2000. She uses a method called "Writing Practice" to open up the mind. She says write for a hour on anything, even just describing thing in your room. Doesn't matter what, just write. Next month I am taking a two day class from Orson Scott Card, which I hope will give better focus and guidance. Keep up your writing for the love of it, not the money. Money and success can destroy a good writer.

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  6. Ah, the retreat is a definite shining oasis to me at the moment. Roll on next month I say.

    I have two clinical essays to write and I just can't settle into the groove. It's always the first couple of paragraphs that annoy/terrify me the most!

    I've told myself I can't blog until I write the first draft on one essay… So off I go to try to write something worth reading and grading 😉

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