Yesterday I hit the halfway mark in this project. I’ve been writing for 185 consecutive days! That exclamation point feels well-deserved.
I have written on days I haven’t wanted to, and there have been many. I have written while sick. I have written while depressed. I have written while breastfeeding. I have written amidst noise and distraction. I have written just before the clock hit midnight. I have written through writer’s block. I have written after a car accident. Every day. I show up. I search for words and construct sentences. I go digging for small truths about myself that have lead to larger truths.
Throughout this project, I’ve asked myself if all these unpaid hours away from my family are worth it. After all, during the editing process (here and in my other writing), thousands of words never even make the cut. What is the value of this daily practice? What is the value of writing at all?
There seems to be no quantifiable value beyond the word counts and number of days. Sometimes it’s hard to know if I’m really getting anywhere. But there are other ways to measure progress.
Back in April, with flushed cheeks and a hesitant voice, I read aloud a piece of my writing in front of a small group of strangers. For the first time in years, I was back in a writing workshop. I remember the anxiety I felt driving to that class. Four months later, in July, I gave a public reading of my work, stood up with a microphone and read an excerpt from one of my published essays. What sounds like a leap was achieved in small steps.
At this midway milestone, I am much more comfortable using my voice.
Motherhood caused a sea change in me. I processed the changes in a quiet, wordless space. This daily practice resurrected my voice, helped me find the words to explain this new version of myself and the new things I perceive. To quote Joan Didion, “I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.” This is where the value lies. This is writing’s greatest reward.
(Post 185 of 365)