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Midlife Crisis: If You Want To Write

If You Want To Write by Brenda Ueland


There is so much I wish I could write about right now, but I am silenced by so many things. At times, it is unbearable to not unbridle the writer in me, creating an expose I might later regret. Suffice to say, that at 40 years of age, I am going through my own midlife crisis, inspired by none other than the book I have referred in numerous posts, “The Age of Miracles: The New Midlife.” One might argue that I should have never read it because it gave me the courage to imagine a different kind of life.

I disappointed my father when I left journalism and entered public relations nearly 20 years ago. Actually, I disappointed my entire family who believed I would publish my first novel by the time I was 35. Some of my professors believed this, too, including a poetry professor who was sure I might win a Pulitzer Prize. (How kind of her. I received an HONORABLE MENTION in the Oklahoma SPJ contest for a personal column. Kind of a far cry, but who’s giving up?)

My father and the rest of my family never really understood my profession. If I was successful in pitching a story to the media and getting a reporter to pick it up, I’d carry my work to him to show him and he would ask me the most painful question: “Where is your byline?” I would have to tell him, “Well, I didn’t write it, but I made it happen – sort of – kind of – well, maybe not.”

When I took him out to Tinker in the early 1990s and tried to explain to him my work in environmental public affairs, he just showed concern over all the restoration sites I pointed out to him. “I really don’t like you working around all this pollution,” he said. I could never convey to him how important I felt my work was informing the public about cleanup of that Superfund site.

If You Want To Write

Being a writer – a great writer — requires a certain amount of fearless, wild abandon. If one is not going to write with honesty, why write at all? And as a virtual unknown why self-reveal? Isn’t that an indulgence that only the famous can get away with? I have been buttoned for so long and shopped the suit racks at Dillard’s for nearly two decades. I fear I might have killed my own muse. But, I know I will find my voice again, and the courage to tell the truth.

(NOTE: The picture is the cover of a book I used to teach from when I taught a college course, “Writing Your Life Story.” It is a must-have for anyone struggling to find a lost muse or — just herself.)

Check out: If You Want To Write

Photo Credit: Google Books

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