Before Cheryl Strayed became That Wild Girl, she was an agony aunt at Rumpus.net. She went by the moniker “Sugar”, it so happens. In light of my recent posts about writing like no one cares, the joy of lowering your expectations and faking it until you make it, I thought today I’d simply run a response Strayed wrote to a reader with creative block some time back. I’ve run the whole lot, question and answer, because it’s a great read. But I’ve ital’d the bits that hit nails for me. Enjoy and discuss below.
I write like a girl. I write about my lady life experiences, and that usually comes out as unfiltered emotion, unrequited love, and eventual discussion of my vagina as metaphor.
And that’s when I can write, which doesn’t happen to be true anymore.
Right now, I am a pathetic and confused young woman of 26, a writer who can’t write. I am up late asking you a question, really questioning myself. I’ve sat here, at my desk, for hours, mentally immobile. I look up people I used to love and wonder why they never loved me. I lie facedown on my bed and feel scared. I get up, go to the computer, feel worse.
David Foster Wallace called himself a failed writer at 28. Several months ago, when depression hooked its teeth into me, I complained to my then-boyfriend about how I’ll never be as good as