I’m sure it seems to you that I suddenly dropped off the face of the earth about two weeks ago, perhaps leaving you pining for more Raw Drip (or, perhaps, not…).  As far as I can tell, I’ve had what professional writer types might call a case of writer’s block – a complete creative block which affected my work life, personal life, and my blog life.  Even my Facebook statuses which are usually, at least interesting, became uninspired ramblings  just shy of “Samantha feels ok” in terms of gripping self-commentary. 

I’ve never really been someone who lacks for words to express herself.  My mother used to tell me that I was born talking and she thought I’d go out talking, too – or something like that.  I’m pretty sure I was too busy talking over her to listen to what she was saying.  Anyway, I do love to get me some good chit-chat going on.  I think that’s why it took me a few days to figure out what my problem was.  It wasn’t that I had run out of stuff to say, I just couldn’t summon the creative will to say it any longer. 

The only symptom of my condition was a pervasive ‘eh?’ feeling.  It’s a feeling I’m familiar with for its close association with folding laundry, but I’ve never felt that way about writing.  In fact, I’ve always cherished my writing time, often enthusiastically blowing off favorite TV shows or the chance for extra sleep to sit down and spew ideas onto the page. 

But as I sat, staring at the blinking cursor on my computer night after night, I had to acknowledge that the ‘eh?’ might be signaling the ehnd of my brief and unglamorous writing career. 


“They” say that the only way to overcome writer’s block is to write.  While this may be true, I found that the harder I tried to juice myself of some creative inspiration, the more difficult it was for me to actually come up with anything.  I even tried putting myself through the writer’s equivalent of a Project Runway challenge doing creative writing exercises with scant conceptual seeds and minimal time.  I can only assume the authors of the free online creative writing exercises I consulted are not parents of small children because the supposed “challenge” of writing a story about all the ways I’d try to escape from a tropical island – so did NOTHING to motivate me. As you well know, I’ve been spending the last 5 years trying to devise a way to escape to a tropical island, so the idea that I’d devote any energy, creative or otherwise, to trying to get off of a deserted tropical island strikes me as ludicrous.  

As I sat over lunch yesterday with my copy of InStyle magazine and a small plate of vegetable gyoza, suddenly my mind wandered from the latest designer handbags to my state of ‘eh?’.  ”Who am I kidding?” I thought.  I miss writing my blog, even if no one reads it.  That must mean something profound, right?  To miss doing something that has only an intrinsic reward?  That started me thinking – where did things go so wrong for me and writing?  Maybe, if I could play therapist with myself, I would unlock the mystery of the ‘eh?’ and somehow get my groove back?


From time to time, I indulge in a little fantasy I’ll share with you now.  It’s a tad bit embarrassing, so if I know you personally, you must forget you’ve ever read this… 

[Clears throat and puts on best Sophia Petrillo voice]

Picture it:  It’s mid-town Manhattan on an overcast late fall afternoon.  I’m sitting behind a large table at a small bookstore. I’m much thinner and better dressed than I’ve ever been (standard for all my fantasies).  I’ve got a pink paisley scarf casually thrown over my shoulder and pinned in place to my black lapel a la’ the classy brunette chick from ‘Designing Women’.  Hordes of eager, young writers and avid readers are lined up, dying to share a few moments of chit-chat with their favorite author – me.  As a fan hands me her latest copy of my book for signing, we exchange pleasantries and I put her at ease by saying something witty.  My fan tells me how much she’s always enjoyed my work, how my personal journey of relative obscurity as a mommy blogger to moderately successful author has inspired her to pursue her own creative passions with renewed vigor.  It’s basically one big literary love-fest. 

Here’s the problem with my indulgent little fantasy – it both fascinates and terrifies me.  It fascinates me because I think that wise & witty author lives somewhere inside me and would love to get out and entertain and enlighten people through her prose.  It scares me because I think I can see how easy it would be to be disappointed when the bar is set so high.  And there are few things I hate more in life than feeling worse about myself. 

That brings about another scary realization - I really love writing.  When I think of who I am and how I would want to be described in my obit, that’s the word that comes to mind – writer.  In the past, when I’ve loved something this much, something that required actual hard work and perseverance and usually resulted in a lot of painful rejection & self-reflection, I’ve defaulted to my safe place of inaction, where I remain the aloof armchair critic of other people’s work. 

How do I keep my little author fantasy in check?  Am I NOT setting myself up for disappointment by pinning so many hopes on a dream.  How do I reconcile my insecurities with my certainty that I’ve got something here?  Where is a good therapist when you need one??


Of course, all of this soul-searching begs the question, how can I be 37 and still not know what I want to be when I grow up?  I’m starting to think that the world has two types of people:  Those that are okay with working their way into a career and staying there for 30 years, becoming a recognized expert on chemical engineering or on the mating habits of sperm whales, or whatever it is that they’re into and then there are the rest of us.  Much as I tend to ”read” the Sunday NY Times by skimming it, rather than reading it faithfully from cover to cover as Dick does, I’ve found that I have no attention span for routines – which would explain why I hate regimented workouts.   I long to be a connoisseur of variety. I suffer from a perpetual case of spring fever mixed with a deep fear of commitment.  Unfortunately, there aren’t too many decent paying jobs for connoisseurs of variety.  Probably even fewer for people who want to write about being a connoisseur of variety.


Writing Raw Drip is a great mental exercise, cathartic for me and hopefully entertaining for you.  But the writing I’m asked to produce on the job is none of those things and it’s becoming harder and harder to reconcile treating the creative writing I hold so dear in my personal life with the dumbed down, employer-friendly vanilla-frosted crap I can produce on auto-pilot at work.   Frustratingly, whenever I try to inject some creativity into my work, I’m shot down by insipid, narrow-minded ”leaders” who long ago sold out whatever creative passion they may have possessed for much more money than I’ll ever see in my paycheck.  

During an impromptu conversation with my department manager several weeks ago I had a distinctly Bill Lumbergh-esque conversation.

“Yeah, we just need to talk about your latest online learning module…  You’ve got a lot of ideas going on there, but what we really need is for things to just be updated from last year.  We don’t have to make every piece of training content super-engaging, right?  Sometimes we just need you to update the headers & footers and keep going.  Just try to reign in your creativity a little – m’kay?  Thaaanks.”

Wow.  I’ve always believed as an Instructional Designer, if ever there was any area of a typical adult’s life that could be livened up a little it might be their workplace training. I’m surprised that Workplace Harassment Training isn’t listed on the DOJ torture memos as an approved, even a preferred, torture method.  Surely, some creativity must be in order here?  Surely, there must be a way to make a buck as a writer for the Corporate Man, while maintaining some artistic integrity?


Dick and I recently attended a reading and a book signing for one of my favorite authors, David Sedaris.  Mr. Sedaris read us, an as yet unpublished article he’d written for New Yorker magazine on the subject of “Greed” (one of the 7  deadly sins).  In his article, he made one aspect of becoming a writer perfectly clear, “If you’re thinking of becoming a writer to make money, I’d suggest you might find it easier to hold D-list celebrities for ransom or sell pencils on the uptown 6 train.” 

Okay, so making money with writing isn’t going to be easy.  But writing for the financial services industry hasn’t, exactly, been profitable either.  And, after years of trying to “corporatize” my love of creative writing in the hopes of making a buck or two, I’m forced to concede that I’m not sure I can keep selling out or settling for “close enough” any longer.  I’m 37 and I’ve been writing for one financial services company after another for the past 17 years, with nothing more than a modest portfolio and an even more modest 401k to show for it.  Raw Drip, the little part-time creative outlet for a frustrated working mom & wannabe writer, has morphed into the worst-paying job I’ve ever loved. 

Perhaps my manager is right, I do have “lots of ideas”, maybe even too many ideas.  No doubt some of my ideas are bad, but maybe a few of them are great.  For the few that are great, or at least have the potential for greatness, I can’t go on knowing they’ll eventually suffocate from lack of nurture or, worse, be re-packaged in a tidy, vanilla flavored cupcake with a large company logo slapped onto the perfectly swirled imitation vanilla frosting.   Aside from my family, my ideas are all I have, and if they’re going to be packaged, it better be in an organic red velvet cupcake with chai-tea infused cream cheese frosting, glittery confetti sprinkles, and garnished with single-origin dark chocolate shavings!!!

Darn.  I’ve confronted my fears, dislodged the block and learned that I want to be a writer.  Busy week.  Now what?

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