Knowing I can write, and knowing I will

Sometimes I think I have nothing left in me to write.

I’ve been using Duotrope at the recommendation of a friend to send out my work and keep track of rejections and (rarer) acceptances. In fact, the very first response I got was an acceptance, and everything since then has been a rejection. I’m trying not to take it personally like I have in the past. Maybe I’ll make it a New Year’s Resolution to get rejected more. I mean, there’s all the books that have been published after being rejected so many times, right?

Sometimes I think that every time I write something good, a little piece of me is scooped out, never to be reclaimed.

I know I write well. After years and years of doubting that, I know it now. I don’t know when that switch was flipped, but it was sometime this year. There are many things I still doubt—the love of my friends or my ability to hold down a job despite enormous counter evidence, for example—but one thing I finally finally do not doubt is that I can write. I know the technicalities of writing (in English, at least), but more importantly, I want to write, I believe I can, and I know I will.

Still, sometimes I wonder if there’s anything left inside me that’s worth writing about. It’s not writer’s block, exactly. It’s more like writer’s emptiness. I have all these ideas, but nothing that I can latch onto for more than a couple of paragraphs, if that.

I can only write what’s inside me and even though that feels hollow sometimes, it’s what I’ve got, for better or worse. I’m not getting married to anyone any time soon, and I’m beginning to think that’s because I’m married to my work. Not in the sense that I work myself to the bone or consider myself a workaholic. I’m learning to say “no” to things that I don’t want to do and don’t care about over things I know I need to do and want to do for my own self worth.

No, I’m beginning to think I’m married to my work the same way happy couples are good for each other. We have time apart, but I keep going back, and I know in my heart there’s no one else for me. The dream is there, and I my writing keeps it alive somewhere in the back of my mind when I struggle otherwise.

There are a few things I know for sure. I think, finally, that this is one of them. Even when I think there’s nothing left, the spark of imagination has never completely gone out. Recently, it’s just been so fleeting that I haven’t been able to capture it properly.

Luckily, I can write anyway, even without ideas. I can be prepared for when inspiration strikes. Married or not, I know that I will continue writing until all of me is scooped out and laid bare. I can’t stop that. I don’t even want to. I just have to be ready for big magic.

Viannah E. Duncan

Viannah E. Duncan is a writer and activist hailing originally from Los Angeles. She lives outside of Baltimore, Maryland, and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Wilkes University. She has a cat, Cleo.

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