Not What I Expected

websters falls revisited

Article by Wendy McCance

I’ve been writing this blog now since February of this year.  There have been numerous posts full of heartfelt descriptions of some difficult times I went through.  The blog has been rather cathartic for me.  I have seen my writing turn dark and dreary and I have seen my writing swing the other way full of hope and optimism.  Writing has been an incredible experience for me, but it was not what I expected.

In the first few months, I raced to the computer each morning typing out a post before the kids were settled in at school.  I had so much on my mind that I could have easily written 3 or 4 posts back to back without taking a breath between them.  In the last month or so, my writing hit a stall.  I had other obligations and was unable to write every day (although I tried).

Who knows if it is because of the loss of momentum or a general glitch in the writing process, but I have learned something.  I’m happy.  Seriously ecstatic with my life.  everything has fallen neatly into place and there is a sense of peace and contentment.  I know this doesn’t seem like a bad thing, and it’s not, but I feel my writing is more strained because of it.

My last post was about a fun day with the family.  It was a light, airy piece of fluff.  As a person who sees my writing as a sort of peek into my inner thoughts for my kids, I was happy to write about a day that filled me with so much joy.  I am at a standstill though about how to pull out those deep feelings that had risen to the surface so easily when all wasn’t at its best with my life.

Are there such things as happy writers?  Can they pull out those feelings that make anyone reading their work stop and feel as though you were writing specifically about them?  Are happy people only happy writers that focus on the lighter side of life?

I am fortunate to have several followers who are authors.  I would really love your take on this crazy phenomenon.  Has this happened to you?  Can you relate or do you have some advice on how to get that authentic, gritty voice back?  Comments would be appreciated. 🙂

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Wendy McCance

Wendy McCance is a Michigan based freelance writer and social media consultant. Wendy has gained attention as the founder of the popular blog Searching for the Happiness which can be viewed in 9 local papers online, including the Oakland Press. The combination of writing skills and social media knowledge is what makes Wendy such a powerhouse to work with. Stay tuned for opportunities to advertise, guest post and as always, have your questions answered.

To contact Wendy McCance about a writing or social media assignment, interview or speaking engagement, please email her at: mccance.wendy@gmail.com

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26 thoughts on “Not What I Expected

  1. http://miriamspia.wordpress.com/ That’s one thing. I think that there are happy writers. Some of the time, I have been one of them. Emotions are like that – they change. One of the greatest lessons I had when my now 16 year old son was very young was that he re-taught me that “Every emotion every day is normal.” Sometimes as adults we forget that and expect to feel the same way all the time. Other times we just don’t feel very emotional at all and may worry about suffering from ‘the blahs’. I think this is not dependent upon one’s line of work.

  2. When it comes to my post sit I write and I often don’t give what I am writing a lot of thought but that I reckon shows in the way my posts sound, do I worry about what I am posting no not much…..
    I know many people worry about what they are writing but to me I just let my fingers dance over the keyboard and what comes out is often a deep part of me…………

  3. I think you have received some very good feedback. I really think that ‘thinking’ about it makes it seem worse. It’s like you are holding on to that dark cloud that’s blocking your view rather than letting it float on by. Keep the faith. It will flow again… 🙂

  4. Yes, there are such things as happy writers. You mention it’s easy to write about the happy times of your life and wish you could do as much with the challenging times. Some people are just the opposite – they find much more inspiration during the challenging times. A fiction writer — and I’m trying to remember his name; he was from the South — once said, “The best gift a writer can receive is an unhappy childhood.”
    I think “happy” is a rather ambiguous word; a word I’ve never much cared for. I perfer “joy” — a sense of deep, abiding contentment in whatever situation or circumstance we find ourselves. To embrace all as the Path is the key to realizing this joy in every aspect of life. To be able to convey that joy to our readers is what makes our writing worthwhile. When people are happy themselves, they don’t look to our spiritual writings for guidance. It is when they are suffering and can’t find the contentment — the abiding joy — in their suffering that they need to guidance on their Path. To realize that everyone suffers and everyone feels happiness is our unifying force with each other. It doesn’t necessarily take a “gritty voice” but rather a compassionate voice, even when writing about ourselves or our experiences of suffering. That is the key to providing a voice of kindness, hope, and love to others who are suffering as well.
    When I wrote the “diary” of my significant other’s cancer and our 18-month journey until his death, I used not only my frustrations and sadness, but the joy and the peace that comes into play as well; learning to embrace all as the Path transcends individual, egoic suffering and transforms it into a peace with how things are. I was fortunate however, in that he had a great sense of humor that all of us who knew him were blessed to share. He taught us all how to live — and how to die. I think that when people read that book, they find that unity that we all share — we live, we suffer and we die. Living a meaningful life and have a joyful death is what we all want.

    • Hi Clare, what an incredible comment. I love the way you explained it. These comments have been so wonderful. It’s opened my eyes to a new way of looking at things. I feel so lucky to get some great advice like this. Thanks 🙂

  5. I can so relate to this. My writing suffers when I’m happy. Period. But it suffers also when I’m deeply miserable. There is a place inbetween where I can access both worlds and this is the best place for me to write from. Anger is also great fuel. The adrenaline not only propels the writing (like caffeine), it also carifies (like fire). My sense of humor is sardonic, and it emerges when I’m angry.

    But I get your point. We can’t wait for the perfect emotions to write. I’ve actually never attempted this, but maybe our mental state can be controlled by focusing on a prompt or visual prop. A photograph or word. I often imagine the 837 square foot house I grew up in when I write about my childhood. It is made of clapboard, the white picket fence removed long ago, bermuda grass and weeds overgrown. This is the tone I want to achieve. So maybe when we sit down to right, if we’re feeling too “fluffy”, we can set that tone aside momentarily to achieve the desired tone.

  6. Hi Wendy,
    They key seems to always focus on the writing prompts that move folks to get involved with a response from their end. Whether tears of joy or bitter disappointment, if they move the readers to respond, then something has found its way home or hit its intended target.

    Recently I shared an except from my book “Death & Taxes”. Not everyone will jump to attention when they hear those words, but when I posted the snippet from the book, a poem actually, things happened and I was surprised at the response.

    “Never judge a book by its cover” came to mind. Finally someone took the writing serious, that somehow the book had volumes to speak, though it was only 13 chapters long. One chapter covered the life of a gal who had been abused for 12 years by her Ex. After four children and finally kicking her to the curb, he also kicked her in the stomach and she lost her fifth child she was carrying.

    My heart was torn in two. I love babies and children. My focus is on them, when they are in the room. I wanted the Mom in this story to know how much I cared about her loss, so I sent her this poem about four years ago. I didn’t know who she was, only that she kept crying out for folks to pray for her and her children. The poem in my book is posted below and a link to her story as well.

    Now they were on the street and she lost that child, Matthew. I was so moved that I sent her a poem of dedication for Mathew.

    This poem for Mathew is center page in my “Death & Taxes” book. See poem below:

    A Special Child, Mathew

    I thought about this little life
    How it never stood a chance
    This precious little mother’s boy
    Against a brutal father’s hand.

    This special child was marked
    For a place reserved above
    A quiet place of restfulness
    This place chock full of Love.

    A welcome place for Mathew
    Well known before his birth
    One parent had no use for him
    The other saw his total worth.

    On strings the Angels gently pull
    Drawn up to God in Heaven above
    It may not make much sense to some
    Our God, He is, a God of Love.

    Sincerely, Don Ford

    To: Don Ford
    From: Sarah

    Your poem was beautiful, thank you. It would be an honor
    to have you post your writing in memory of Mathew.
    Mathew’s memory to me has given me a new cause to fight
    for. In that memory, I have managed to change the Law in
    Scotland to help protect children from abusive parents.

    My story was a national front pager and I was asked by the
    Scottish Sun to carry a petition into Parliament on behalf of
    over 8,000 Scots who read about my battles against the
    justice system to help protect my own children from my ex-
    partner.

    I took on the system and won! I carry Mathew with me
    always and know that one day when the time is right he
    will be with me again. Your poem and kind words and
    thoughts have my seal of approval. Thank you again for
    your kindness. Sarah

    “No one should do harm to an innocent child.
    There should be no battleground here, no victim or
    casualty, the child should be protected at all cost. The light
    of Heaven is seen in the face of a child.
    Mathew has already secured a place there!” Don Ford

    I was looking for stories and poems that would display symbols of death and taxes in my book by the same name, and I came across this poem I had sent to Sarah (A fictious name to protect her identity.) I had no idea she lived in Scotland, and I even verified with the Newspaper people over there as to the story’s validity.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-17027110

    MORE OF THE DETAILS:
    http://tinyurl.com/6v28nxr

    Blessings, Don

  7. Wendy,
    I know exactly what you mean. When I feel that life is flowing well, I struggle for something to write about. Most people do not want to hear about a peaceful, lovely “day in the life”. People want to hear about how we overcome our challenges and conflicts. How we grow in the midst of adversity. The life lessons we learn.
    Don’t worry. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it), life is cyclical. Things go well, things fall apart. Enjoy the good times. Soon enough, chaos will reign for a moment and you will have plenty to write about.
    Don’t worry about writing for publication daily. Publish when you really have something you want to share with everyone. And if you have a burning desire to share your happy days with the kids, do so. We’ll get over it.
    Love & Blessings,
    Susan

  8. I am not an author, however here are my thoughts. It’s called writers block. It strikes at almost anytime, out of nowhere and for no particular reason. Some are able to push through it while others need to give it time. Sometimes you just need a break. In any case, find what your heart is feeling and saying and it will come… Just my thoughts.

  9. I’m not sure that it is a bad thing to be happy, and I can’t say for sure that your “gritty” voice is more authentic than your happy one, because I don’t know you. Perhaps you are simply going thorough a cycle. Certainly there is a need for writers who can uplift their readers in these times of economic hardship and political turmoil. It may be that your life will turn another corner again and the gritty voice will be back. In that case, will you be able to say that you fully enjoyed your happy period, or will you realize that you were making yourself miserable worrying that your feelings and your writing were somehow less authentic? Just my two cents.

    • I appreciate your thoughts. Trust me when I say I am thrilled to be happy and wouldn’t change it for the world. After some thought, I think that maybe I am just more familiar and comfortable with my sad voice. This is an opportunity to work on my happy voice and see what developes.

  10. more power to you for expressing your life experiences narratively. regardless what kind of writings you do, writing your spirit out is what’s important. everyone has their style in writing, but i do however believe there are happy writers, “deep” writers, creative writers, and “etc.”. so when you zone out completely whatever mood you’re in and in what context that mood would be is what makes your writings relate to others — and when it relates to others it gives your writings even more meaning. goodluck with your writings! -avid fan, julian

  11. Hi there…I’ve experienced both the highs and lows of life…ecstatically happy as you are now and in the depths of despair. The first year or so (dare I say even now) since I lost my husband and soul mate has been terrible…I want to write but seem paralyzed by the effort at times…other times I write humor and then think, “what on earth was I thinking?” But I trod on, not quite knowing where I’m heading but feeling the need to keep walking. I guess that’s all we can hope for…love your blog, and thanks for visiting mine.

    • Hi Sylvia, great advice. You sound like a very strong woman. I am so sorry for your loss. I can’t even begin to imagine the heartbreak you went through. I wish you nothing but the best. 🙂

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