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Going with the Flow

Going with the Flow

I was asked what it is that I love about writing. I have been writing since I was 17 and the two things that I love have not changed since then. First, is the flow. When I first started writing, it was poetry. My cousin had died from Leukemia before she turned 20 and the entire family was devastated. My release was to write about my feelings, about the sense of loss. The poems poured out of me, one after another. I think I wrote 5-10 of them. And I shared them with my grieving aunt. She appreciated them. And that clinched it.

From then on, the two things have gone hand in hand. The utter joy of feeling words flow out of my mind and onto a piece of paper, and the utter joy of connecting with a reader who enjoys what I have written. I continued to write poetry for about 2 years while I was in college. Lots of poetry. Mounds of poetry. Not necessarily good poetry… but the feeling of the flow was what mattered. It seemed that I could write anytime, anywhere, on any topic. I would be with my friends, have them point out something, or come up with a topic, and I would write a poem about it. However, the poems that mattered to me were the poems that I wrote about my friends and our friendship. Some of them are still friends of mine today, and the poems are still accurate. Sharing the poem with them, and having them recognize that it came from my appreciation of them as a person meant a lot to me.

And then my ability to write poetry went away. It was sudden and it was painful. Since it had come to me unbidden and without effort, I didn’t know how to get it back. So after a while, I just accepted that it was gone. I did not share my writing after that for another 20 years. I journaled, but I didn’t write poetry or share my fiction. But then, sometime in my 40’s, I began to write stories that I could share. And they were deep stories. I wrote about abortion, alcoholism, about incarceration. And again, what I found was the flow. The joy of the flow. And then the pain when the flow went away. It didn’t stay. It might last for a day or two, maybe a week at the most, and then it was gone. And completely unable to be recalled. Nor could I write without it. I tried. It was garbage. So I decided that I would only write when there was “flow”. Which happened about once a year. And after a while, I had 14 stories.

Meanwhile, there was the other joy – the joy of sharing my stories. I had three friends that I shared my stories with. Two co-workers and a friend that I had known from my 20’s. They loved the stories. They begged for more. They encouraged me to publish. I loved the praise, I loved the feedback, but most importantly, I loved that my stories had connected with them, were satisfying, were enjoyable. Were worth reading.

So here I am today. Writing when I feel the flow, but most importantly, knowing that my stories are enjoyed. Forty people have rated my stories, and 25 of them gave it 5 out of 5 stars. I have had 25 reviews, and all were positive. This gives me great joy.

There MIGHT be another set of stories. I have written three. I would not publish anything that I didn’t feel was worth reading, so I wait for the flow, and it might take several years before there are 12 more stories. But I am enjoying the possibility. And coming to terms with the brief nature of the flow. It hurts a little when it is gone, but I hold out belief that it will come again. And that is what truly matters.

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