Posted by: patti | January 2, 2009


In the last few weeks, I’ve received messages —  unexpected, lovely, welcome messages — from readers, looking for a new post.  And there were even messages from readers I’ve never met (and Little Brother has been nagging me for more wordplay — which is only fair, as I’ve been nagging him to get his own damn blog).

You have no reason to believe me, of course, but my drafts folder is bursting at the seams.   I’ve simply been unable to push that squat blue “publish” button.

I’ve lost my voice.  I’ve lost sleep, I’ve lost weight, I’ve lost humor — I have all the marks of a teenager lost hopelessly in love.  I’m inarticulate with unnamed emotion, and it’s exactly that hot feeling of tears gathering pressing burning behind your eyelids:  you almost have the words, almost know what’s wrong, but you just don’t trust that your mouth your tongue your throat will work properly.  You don’t trust your voice.

Christmas week, two friends, one who has known me for over fifteen years and one who has known me maybe five weeks, gave me two very different assessments of this blog, of my writing.

Both began almost the same way, by assuring me of my talent.  “You’re a good writer, you know that,” each said.  And I braced myself for the “but.”

The friend who has known me since college, who, in fact, taught me in college, went on to say that she saw this blog as a way for me to “try on new personas.”    In a perhaps unintentionally dismissive you’re-just-going-through-a-phase tone, she said, “Each time I see you, especially recently, you’ve changed your style, or your hair.  The blog, these stories, are just an extension of that trying on.”

This stung, but she’s maybe not wrong.

The new friend’s “. . . but” didn’t hurt me so much as confuse me.  She was struck by the air of confidence in my writing, by the very sure voice I have, the certainty, the authority I communicate.  “Why,” she asked me, “don’t you ever let your readers see the vulnerable side of you?  Why not show the frailty?”

It is, simply: I am insecure about my writing on a visceral level.   This loss of voice, this writer’s block, is a physical sickness.  Because writing isn’t exactly the problem — I can write and write and write and not finish a damn piece because no matter how much I write lately, it doesn’t make that voice go away, that little voice that tells me I have nothing to say.

I’m struggling to tie all of this together, every bit as much as I am struggling with my own definitions, boundaries, names.  And this feels too vulnerable to publish, but because these are the most coherent 483 words I’ve strung together in more time than I want to count, I am going to click that “publish” button and try on yet another new self.



  1. Hello darkness, my old friend
    I’ve come to talk with you again
    – Paul Simon & Sideshow Bob

    You’re like a dog chasing a car, even if you caught it, you wouldn’t know what to do with it. So you get happy go jackey on this blog like a donkey eating a waffle because you got to get to White Castle before the wierdos show up.

    We all have something to say… Just sometimes it don’t make sense to anyone except the voices in your head…

    So get your check book out and pay grandma for the rub down… It makes sense to someone…

  2. Little Brother: Try making a tisane from the shrooms next time. It’s a mellower high that won’t frizzle your shizzle.

  3. If only I knew what tisane was…

  4. Thought you might enjoy this piece on reduplicative words:

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