I worry a lot that I am becoming jaded with the writing process. Since graduating from my MFA program, writing feels like a chore. Part of that is because Spalding is full of magic, part is because of all the stuff going on in the world, and a big part is because I am off my medication for ADD. All this means that sitting down and trying to concentrate is like herding cats, only herding cats sounds like a lot more fun.
This all changed a couple weeks ago, when a friend and I made the three hour trek to Purdue University in Indiana to hear Margaret Atwood speak. I have loved her writing ever since first reading The Handmaid’s Tale in high school, and each subsequent book has made me even more in awe of her gift. Of course, most of her books are hard to read right now (The Handmaid’s Tale and the MaddAddam trilogy don’t seem as much like fantasy now that women’s bodies, the environment, and freedom from corporate control seem in more danger every time I turn on the news), but I still love them.
I admit to some nervousness, not just because I would be breathing the same oxygen as MARGARET ATWOOD, but out of fear that she would be different than I had imagined. Writers are human, of course, and have their flaws (I have countless!), but there have been situations where previous idols turned out to be quite problematic. Some (unnamed) examples: a male memoirist/poet was lecherous and skeezy in person, and a feminist writer made some terribly transphobic remarks. So I had some concerns; I didn’t think my heart could take Ms. Atwood becoming problematic.
I needn’t have worried. She stood on stage and spoke as if she owned the place, reading from some poems and a novel, all unpublished, all needing to be published as of yesterday, and answered questions with grace, respect, and humor. She was delightful. And she was inspiring.
I came home with ideas and plans buzzing around in my brain. A few days ago, I sat down and jotted out a chapter for what I hope will become my first novel about a subject too close to my heart and life for me to write nonfiction about.
I am no longer jaded. I still can’t concentrate, but I rekindled my love for writing. We need our heroes. I’m just glad mine live up to the title.