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Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Rebooting the Writing Life

It's not January 1. Thank goodness. All that pressure to make goals and come up with a mantra and create vision boards, all centered on the beginning of a new year—it's a little hard to take. Of course, if you're Chinese or Jewish or Mongolian or [insert other culture here], you're off the hook for January 1 anyway.

You can reboot as often as necessary. Johnny Cash said:
You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don't try to forget the mistakes, but you don't dwell on it. You don't let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.
I stopped writing in my journal about the time my daughter became a juvenile delinquent. How many times have I heard that everything is grist for a writer's mill? This is the time I should have been keeping meticulous notes for any number of books and articles: the juvenile justice system; the U.S. attitude toward mental health care; police attitude toward teenagers; how one member's mental balance affects a family's dynamics, and so on. For a memoir, at least, touching on all these topics.

I wrote very little in my personal journal or my writer's notebook. I count this a failure, in a professional sense. I don't dwell on it, though, possibly because I'm doing the best I can on that front. The story isn't over; it may never be complete. The delinquency is past, but my daughter came home from college on medical leave because she's suicidal. This is her second mental health–related medical leave.

Lots of things knock us off track. My daughter is reconciling herself to the fact that she's not going to graduate from college in four years. But she'll head back to college when she's able. She wants to be a lobbyist for mental health rights.

Right now, rebooting my blog seems like a good idea. So here I am. Per Woody Allen: "Showing up is 80 percent of life."


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