Twenty-Fifteen

“And then you just do it. You just dig in and write it. You use your body … You put your hand on your heart and feel it beating and decide if what you wrote feels true. You do it because the doing of it is the thing.

Amy Poehler, “Yes Please”

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How do you break it to someone that they are turning into an angsty artist type and should just get over themselves and start writing again?

Asking for a friend.

No. Just kidding. I’m asking for myself.

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If you haven’t guessed it by my distinct lack of 2014 blogposts, at some point last year I decided I wasn’t a writer. In a world where we can do all things but we can’t do all things well, I told myself that you can’t be great at taking photos AND writing. You’re a photographer who loves beauty, home styling, florals, writing when inspiration strikes so you are already way over your quota for creative things. Pick one, Oho. There are people out there who write for a living and already do it so much better than you so keep your pretty photos and your day job, lady.

Pshhhhhhhh.

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My love of writing began in junior high in the form of novel-length fictional stories. In high school, I started a blog and kept up what was likely the most detailed and documented life of a perfectly boring adolescent. In college, I changed blogs but still kept writing about life, love and the pursuit of what happiness meant for a young adult. When I became a photographer, a blog was something that just came along with the journey and while, for the most part, my blog is focused on the photos I take, I would be lying if I said there isn’t a significant part of my heart & life on this pages. The reality is that I’ve been creatively writing & blogging in different forms for more than 15 years and those have been blissful, word-filled years.

And then all of the sudden – like a lift in the sidewalk and subsequent crash you didn’t see coming – it just stopped.

The words – they stopped coming. The heart in the words – it stopped beating. The love for writing – it  disappeared.

Abruptly, I felt like a fraud. Like someone who, for years, faked a skill that everyone knew she never had in the first place. I felt like the ultimate pretender and I’m just really, really terrible at pretending. For the first time – ever – I finally understood why friends and colleagues had blogs without a single word on the page. Without warning, writing felt way too hard and way too personal and how could I possibly feel so in love with all my clients and still convey a different & genuine piece of that for each of them? It felt impossible.

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I defaulted into annoyance (which I later realized was actually conviction) at friends who wrote & blogged beautiful and lengthy pieces on a variety of subjects, but especially when they wrote about their work. For months, I sat down at my computer with my looming list of sessions, weddings, accomplishments and personal subjects I’ve been dying to find the time to write and I just couldn’t. Too many times to even count, I sat in front of a glowing screen with my hands poised just above the keys and was wholly and utterly frozen into submission.

In a business where you are a one-woman show, there’s no shake-down of the marketing department; there are no do-better-or-you’re-fired conversations to be had. I am the artist and the business person rolled into one and I finally understood why those two aren’t always on friendly terms. My brain said, “BLOG! OR DIE!!!!!!!” and my heart shrunk back into the recesses of my body in response. Not shrinking in a Grinch type of way but in the way that it is painful to the core of your soul. It hurts every time you think about it, hurts every time you read something blissfully well-written and, even more so, dagger-hurts when you think about the disservice you are doing to your couples, families and business.

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So, in response, I did what I never ever do in life. I stopped talking. I gave into that low, menacing voice in my head that said, “no one cares; you are not good enough” and I let the fear take over. I buried myself in my work and basically ignored (or made jokes about) the fact that my blog sat stagnant. Even on the days when I stood in front of a group of my peers being paid to speak about brand strategy, I used my own blog as a way to say, “do what I say, not what I do.” In plain terms, I was terrified but perfectly comfortable in my terror.

I don’t talk about fear a lot of this blog because my modus operandi of dealing with fear has always been to do the thing I’m fearful of. I’ve been taught that running straight into the face of fear is the best (and only) way of moving past it so when the reality was that I wasn’t moving past it but, instead, let it look me up and down and tell me repeatedly that I’m not up to snuff? I never said a word to anyone about it. I merely let it consume me. You know…minor stuff. Or as minor as something that takes up your entire viewpoint on a subject can be. THAT MINOR.

But. Like a phoenix from a fire…

I kid. There’s no phoenix. And definitely no fire. The only drama to this next part is that it happened at 3am. And when your brain wakes up at 3am with what feels like words streaming out of your ears, it feels pretty absurdly dramatic.

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Early this morning, I woke up with an inexplicable but desperate desire to write. I knew I had a choice; I could lay there until sleep took over again or I could get out of bed, grab my laptop and pound the keys until my coffee cup was empty (times 3). And you guys… THE FEAR. Like, all capital letters. THE FEAR told me to go back to sleep. It quietly whispered, “it will be there in the morning” (it won’t) “go back to sleep” (I wanted to) “you have a busy day and a busy week and you’re not feeling well – you should sleep” (I do and I probably should). But. BUT. This morning I didn’t listen.

I don’t know that I can identify what is different about today. The honest truth is that there may not be a single thing altered from any other day but today I chose to get out of bed, plant my feet on the ground and just write.

And that’s where we are now.

If I were writing a script, this would make a beautiful narrative arc to the story because the sun is just starting to rise over a freshly fallen white snow and fill this new house of ours with the most beautiful light you’ve ever seen and I’m starting to believe that maybe I am, indeed, a reborn phoenix and maybe this is my new beginning. And while it’s a metaphor of it’s own creation it’s also very (intensely) possible it’s the 4 hours of sleep and 6 espresso shots in my lattes this morning; whatever that narrative may be…

I’m back. 

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To the loveliest bunch of couples, families & editorial clients my small business has ever seen – thank you for making 2014 the very best year. I would give each of you the world if I could. (I mean, look at all those gorgeous faces. I am the luckiest.)

And to Amy Poehler who will (thankfully) never read this blog but it still must be said. Thank you for the kick in the pants. The doing really is the thing.

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Also. If you are feeling even slightly like I was, please watch this video. In my darkest, angsty moments – this video encourages my soul and I hope it does that for you.

THE GAP by Ira Glass from Daniel Sax on Vimeo.

(6) Comments

  1. I love you SO hard! And also, I hear this! I feel like a blog-fraud 100% of the time. I don’t have a business to promote, and I don’t have another skill to focus on, and I have a freaking degree in writing, so I really should be the bomb.com at it, right? But yeah, I heard that. I feel silly about it because there’s no client to please. But anyway, how lame. And as someone who has been reading your writing for a good 15 years (heck yeah fan fic!) you’ve always been good. Like photography (I’m guessing… they tell me…) you get better when you do it. Every writing conference or course I’ve taken says writer’s block is bs, and you’ve got to sit down, shut up, and write. So I’m LOVING that you’re back doing it. And not that you need to improve, but time in the ring will make those punches in the face of writer’s fear all the more black-outy (see? That was a rather weak simile. Someone else needs to practice!).

    Ok, so I love you, and I love that you drew out that Amy P quote because it has been floating around in my head and trying to be the thing I remember when I think of that poorly edited mess of a collection that I equal parts enjoyed and hated. And now I stop typing.

  2. I love hearing from you this way – real and personal – well done on your return! I’ve felt a similar sense of guilt and dread about my own blog and website in general but it seems once you leave it for a while the time away just makes it that much more difficult to break back in and say hello from the page. I’m wary of the amount of work and changes that they deserve and know the time investment can’t be minimal to do them justice. I’ve got my list of excuses but they weigh nothing when put up against my quiet and outdated site.
    I’m glad 2014 was a great year! Based on your narrative arc description I’d pay to see that movie ;) Congrats again on the new place – enjoy! XO

  3. Way to begin again and blow the thing out of the water! This is a beautiful post that rings with a triumph against fear, against smallness, against self-doubt, against pigeon-holing, against comparisons. It doesn’t matter what everyone else is doing, what they’re writing or how often. It only matters that YOU LISTENED WHEN THE WORDS ARRIVED. Not everyone can hear them, and many do not act when the spirit visits. You’re the boss of your blog. It’s there to serve you, not the other way around. And you showed it who’s boss today. Well done.

  4. Thank you. Times infinity. You said the things I’ve felt and couldn’t voice. So naturally after wishing I’d found the words, I just became crazy grateful you wrote them and shared them. Thank you… In many ways, your words opened up a piece of me. You’re pretty incredible. And oh my goodness…don’t even get me started on the images…

  5. I feel the fear all the time, and I’m someone who (for a living!) helps other people move past all the fears and doubts that come with writing and sharing content. It’s HARDDDDDD. But I’m so glad you gave into that urge and dove back in. And I like to think that, at least sometimes, when we’re busy giving in to the fear, we’re also busy learning the things we need to jump back in. Welcome back, and enjoy it!