Retiring from Writing

August 11, 2016.
Today I quit writing.

Today I am retiring from writing. But
one does not retire from writing
the way one retires from so many other types of work.
If I was a sculptor, I would stop putting my hands to clay.
Am I seriously planning on
not putting words together on paper anymore? No.

I could say
I’m retiring from writing for the public eye,
but that’s not quite accurate either since
I’ll likely keep my blog.
After a decade
I’ve grown attached
to those I meet with in this space.

I could say
I’m no longer actively pursuing publication
in a way that fills binders with tearsheets.

I could just stop doing it.
Maybe I don’t need to say anything at all.
Maybe I don’t need a statement.
Maybe the fact that I’m trying to come up with a statement
that accurately conveys
what feels like a watershed moment
is a sign of something:
You can’t take the writer out of a person.

(Oy, 169 words into this press release
and I still don’t have the words right. Get it together, girl.)

If someone came and told me all this stuff,
know what I’d say?

“What happened? What prompted this?”
There must have been some precipitating event.

Not really.
I think I stopped a long time ago, unawares.
Probably around the time Ma came to live near us.
You know how it is,
people go to their last reunion
or meet a friend for lunch for the last time
or make their last trip to the place they grew up,
only they didn’t know it was going to be the last time,
so the momentous of the occasion escapes them.
There was no acknowledgement of the moment
at the time it occurred
and it’s only in looking back that you realize
it’s been 2 years or 5 years or ten.

You declare “I’m never going East again!”
when in reality
the last trip East was a decade ago
and you’re just waking up to the fact
you don’t plan on traveling there again.
Is there really a need to announce it somewhere?
Your people are well aware,
more aware than you.

So……just so you know…..
I’ve ceased writing for publication.
Predate this announcement several years.

In truth, it’s me that needs the announcement
so I see the line of demarcation
and remember it.
Because what am I really quitting?
What am I really retiring from?
Clearly, I’m still writing. To inmates. To friends.
To just about anyone who writes to me.
AND I’m signed up for a writing workshop this fall.
So no, what I’m retiring from isn’t writing.

feeling bad I’m not writing something major
for a broad audience.

feeling I need to apologize
for not seriously building a platform.

feeling weird
about it meaning more to me
to sit and chat for 30 minutes with a young writer
than to spend 30 minutes
strategizing how to put my name out there.

I have letters to write,
English to teach,
an ebook to finish (it’s missing a piece),
neighbors with names I need to learn,
tomatoes to tend,
recipes to try,
a dog to walk
while I ponder a line
that wants to turn into a poem

and my oldest and dearest friend hundreds of miles away
who said to me 20 years ago
“Ever since you became a writer
I never hear from you.”

She was right.


About Marilyn

Reading, thinking, listening, writing and talking about faith, creativity, ESL for refugees, grief and finding the story in a story. Student of Spanish. Foe of procrastination. Cheez-it fan. People person with hermit tendencies or vice-versa. Thank you so much for reading.
This entry was posted in courage, discoveries, letting go, summer 2016 challenge, writing. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Retiring from Writing

  1. Belinda says:

    Oh, Marilyn, so glad you shed the monkey on your back, and so thankful that you aren’t going anywhere away from “us.”:)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Marcy says:

    I heart you Marilyn, and this post too!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Marilyn,
    I remember you telling me this as we sat at the airport in Nebraska; am I remembering this correctly? And I can relate to that self-awareness of something that has already happened in reality. Loved your piece and I’m so happy we did meet in person. I finished my media fast and am nearing the end of my little guide to 7 Days of Soul Care 🙂 Praying joy as you meet your neighbors and tend to your tomatoes 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sharon O says:

    It’s all about priorities. And life is happening all around us. I do a blog and write pretty often but it is not all of my life and it never gives me money or gets in the way of the real life ‘we live’ here.
    I like your blog and style of writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Juliana says:

    I’m very glad you aren’t retiring from us!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I love watching as you wrestle through this, Marilyn. I think we all need to find the path God has set out for us – the writing life doesn’t look like just one thing. Bless you in all your word work.


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