The Writer Who Forgot For Awhile

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Michelle Longo is a writer and blogger from northern New Jersey who dreams of someday moving to southern California.  By day she slings paperwork, but by night she pours her heart out on her blog, The Journey.  You can also find her tweeting here or on Facebook here .

Michelle Longo

 

 

When Erin put out the call for guest posts for her Writer Roots series, I carefully crafted replies until I had one that didn’t sound all “Ooh Pick Me!”  I’ve always hated inviting myself to a party, even if it’s one I’d really like to go to. But I’ve been trying to get over myself lately so I sent the message, Erin accepted and here we are!

When I was a kid, I wanted to be a writer.  I also wanted to be a carpenter, a magician, a teacher, a social worker, a lawyer and an assembly line worker.  While the other dreams died over time, the writer thing stuck.  Even after my fourth grade teacher told me my poem was unacceptable since store, door and poor don’t rhyme, I didn’t give up.  Nor did I stop when someone told me my children’s books about a talking hamster with crayon illustrations probably wouldn’t sell.  And I still kept writing when my high school creative writing teacher told me that my short story about a girl who lived in the school to avoid her stepfather was far-fetched and ridiculous.  I didn’t give up the time she told me my three-act play about teen-pregnancy, abortion and suicide was “inappropriate at best.”

I filled volumes with angsty poems inspired by Jim Morrison and the Twin Peaks series.  In college I co-wrote a screenplay about spouse-swapping.  I kept writing.  I wrote term papers and essays for school and took delight in them.  I submitted poems to the chapbooks and zines of friends.  I wrote and wrote and wrote.

But I never called myself a writer and I didn’t pursue it outside of a hobby because I was never sure I was good.  The Writer Party was one I was afraid to invite myself to and I thought it unlikely that anyone was ever going to read my scraps of paper and decide I was Good Enough to join in.

Then I had a kid and I stopped writing.  In my defense, I stopped nearly all manner of thinking and taking care of myself, it wasn’t just the writing I let go.  I had lots of important things to do, like child-rearing and cleaning and working.

In 2010, my mother passed away after a long battle with multiple sclerosis.  In the months following, the emotions of dealing with an alcoholic father and a very sick mother for all of my 33 years hit me like a ton of bricks.  I was becoming an emotional wreck again and there was no outlet for it.

Changes abounded in 2010  -  my son turned from toddler to preschooler, my work schedule and responsibilities changed and I started taking some time for myself.  I couldn’t get the idea of writing out of my mind.  I was writing technical pieces for work and while I enjoyed the practice of writing, the subject matter didn’t feed my soul.

I vowed to write more and write for myself.  I signed up for a class and I found a community online that supported my efforts.  I told people, out loud with actual words, that I wanted to write and for the most part they pushed me to do what I loved doing.

It turns out that all along I was more than welcome at the party, but no one knew I wanted to be there.  Once I spoke up, once I was no longer afraid of rejection, more and more doors opened.  Now I write freely and proudly on my blog.  I’m making progress on a memoir that I hope to share with the world someday.  I write about life as a wife and working mom.  I write about growing up in an alcoholic, abusive family and about taking care of my chronically ill mother through my teens, twenties and early thirties.

I no longer say I want to be a writer or I’m trying to be a writer.  I say I am a writer.  I always have been, I just forgot for a while.

**to read some of Michelle’s favorite posts, please click HERE & HERE.**
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  • bywordofmouth

    and reading these words of yours … you are a writer!

    • Michelle Longo

      Thank you, truly :)

  • http://www.thedoseofreality.com/ Ashley Taylor

    Am blown away! Seriously, this is one of the best things I have read on here. You nailed it Michelle. Well done.

    • Michelle Longo

      Thank you so much, you made my day!

  • http://twitter.com/RASJacobson Renee Jacobson

    Nice to meet you, Michelle! I’m almost the opposite. I’ve always wanted to be a writer and received lots of awards and accolades.

    But.

    I have been utterly overwhelmed by the vast numbers of stunning voices out there. Voices that are better than mine. I’ve felt censored on my own blog. I’m so glad you have stayed the course. So proud of you!

    • Michelle Longo

      Thank you and nice to meet you too! I struggle so much with the talent around me. Some days I feel like such a fraud trying to keep going when so many others write so well. But that negative thought process is what has held me back. Why not me too, you know? Why not any of us? What separates us, often, is the drive. So I’m going to push myself and see where it goes. What’s the worst that can happen?

  • Cindy The Reedster Speaks

    Love your writing,, you always bring a frsh, intriguing take and flair for language to een the simplest of everyday stories. Why is it so hard for us to own our identity as writers?

    • Michelle Longo

      I don’t know why it’s so hard. Thank you for saying such nice things – you and the rest of the Yeah Write crew are seriously awesome and your support has meant so much to me.

  • http://twitter.com/kdwald kdwald

    I am very glad that you’re taking time for yourself – and sharing the results with the rest of us! I hadn’t realized until now that your mom had MS. A good family friend suffered with it for 20 years – it’s a hard, hard fight for everyone involved. Evil thing, MS is. You have such a way with words, and I can’t wait to hear more of them!

    • Michelle Longo

      It is a terrible disease. My mom got sick in the early 90s, and by the time there were more mainstream treatments, she was too progressed for them. It was a struggle, to put it mildly. Thank you for always being so kind and supportive.

  • http://twitter.com/juliedutch Julie

    The things you had written about growing up — I think you were just ahead of your time. Today? A book about a girl to lived at school (maybe fore pre-teens) would be welcomed. It would give a sense of perspective to those that have those same feelings.

    I’m glad that you found your way back. You are a beautiful writer.

    • Michelle Longo

      Thank you so much :)

  • IASoupMama

    Mi-chelle, ma belle… I would read anything you’d write anywhere. Just seeing your profile pic makes me smile :)

    And what’s up with the teacher not understanding “store” “door” and “poor”? Gah! My sixth grade teacher let me put a poem in the district anthology that rhymed “banana” with “Audriana.”

    Erin — thank you again for this series — I love reading all of these entries and getting to know more about some really awesome people!

    • Michelle Longo

      Thank you for such a sweet comment! Technically store, door and poor don’t rhyme (she made me get the dictionary to check the phonetics), and while I appreciate her attention to detail, it was the 4th grade for crying out loud!!

  • http://twitter.com/juliecgardner Julie Gardner

    Oh how I love this idea:
    That you were invited to the party all along, but no one knew you wanted to be there.

    Good for you for finally announcing it to the world. Pick me!
    Yes.

    You’re picked.

    • Michelle Longo

      Thank you – as I waffled on sending the tweet, it hit me how indicative it was of my larger issue. So I decided to go for it. Very happy I did!

  • Michelle Longo

    Erin, thank you so much for letting me be involved in this. It was fun to write and think about. So appreciative of the opportunity!

  • Lance

    the best thing about erin’s series is the people you get to meet who are essentially just like you; writers who have rediscovered their passion.
    thanks for showing us part of you michelle

    • Michelle Longo

      Thank you for reading!! It is such a great series!

  • http://twitter.com/momma23monkeys Robbie K

    I love your writing and am so glad you share your journey with us.

    • Michelle Longo

      Thank you Robbie!

  • Michelle Longo

    Sandra thank you for sharing that bit of yourself and I’m sorry you had to go through that. Writing about my past helps me process it, but there are definitely days where I can’t write about it at all. I hope you continue on with your love affair with words. It’s nothing if not cathartic!

    • Sandra

      Thank you! Have a lovely Sunday.

  • http://joshuawilner.com/ Josh

    It sounds like you have ample material to write about but more importantly you have the desire to do so. That is really the difference maker. There are those that could and those that want to.